Itís not that I dislike Christmas or New Years. It was the pressure to create the perfect Christmas morning for my kids that put me over the edge. For too many years, we blew through our holiday budgets, bought more toys than our kids could play with, and ended up with few happy memories of time with family.
I remember spending an entire Christmas day putting together toys and sorting through the recycling for many, many hours. It wasnít fun or magical, just another chore.
But the holiday season doesnít need to be stressful or commercialized. If you're ready to redefine the way your family celebrates Christmas, hereíre a few tips that may help you get started.
Start with your priorities
The idea behind minimalism isnít to get rid of everything in your life. Itís not learning to live without, but learning to live with less. And my flavor of minimalism doesnít have to match yours. The idea isnít to turn your home into a blank space with zero personality. Itís to turn it into a space that doesnít swallow you with stuff that doesnít matter to you.
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To define the best path towards a simpler and happier holiday season, start with listing whatís truly the most important parts of the season for you. For me, that meant putting faith activities over shopping trips. It meant cutting back on the number of gifts we bought and choosing activities over stuff we didnít need. This is where you get to choose whatís important to you and let go of all the things that you do because ďitís the way weíve always done itĒ.
Choose Sentimentality Over Quantity
We canít forget that the holiday season is about creating a certain kind of atmosphere. We all know families who go bananas trying to create a Pinterest Christmas. And if thatís your thing, go for it. But if you want a simpler kind of holiday season with the same kind of magic, try choosing sentimental items over buckets of decorations you donít care about.
ďThere were a couple of things that I did to help me overcome the Ďgift guiltí. For one, keep at least one item (the thing you love the most) from that person; that way, you still have something that they gave you. If itís something you will still wear/use, then keep it with other similar items; if itís not something you will still wear/use and youíre keeping it for purely sentimental reasons, then put it aside in a designated keepsake box somewhere.Ē
The same thing can be applied to holiday decorating. Keep whatís really important to you in a special place. Display it during the holidays and store it in a keepsake box the rest of the year. Keep the items that you care about the most and get rid of everything else.
Learn Your Triggers
I really donít need more things. Yet, I get excited when I see Black Friday flyers. Hereís how it goes in my head: ďWow! A toaster for $5! Thatís a great deal! I definitely need that!Ē.
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First, I donít need a toaster because we already have one. Second, I donít like toast. But my mind still screams: ďBuy it now! Itís a good deal!!!!!Ē
That is my trap so I stay away from all Black Friday flyers. Maybe your trap includes going to craft fairs and buying more nicknacks that you donít need. Or maybe itís going out to lunch at the local mall and walking around the stores. You know youíre going to end up buying stuff you donít need because you have no self-control when surrounded by a million other shoppers. Learn to identify your triggers and substitute them with activities that match your priorities.
Celebrate Your Way
The holidays can seem overwhelming when you see it as a competition and not as a celebration. In fact, lots of people are recreating the holiday season. The United Methodist Church started a campaign called the ďHundred Dollar HolidayĒ and urges parishioners ďnot to spend more than $100 per family on presents, to rely instead on simple homemade gifts and on presents of services ó a back rub, stacking a cord of firewood.Ē
There is no law that says you have to celebrate Christmas (or any holiday) by commercialized standards. You get to celebrate any way you want and by any standards your family desires. For me, that was adopting a minimalistic mindset and that freed me in ways I canít even explain.