“He who has not Christmas in his heart, will never find it under a tree”, said the American Clergyman Roy L. Smith.
Despite what the high street likes us to think, we know Christmas is about people rather than things. That doesn’t mean it’s easy to avoid the maximalist’s Christmas however, especially if we have children at home who are bombarded with Christmas ads and want to keep up with the latest toys and gadgets.
Can you remember all the gifts you received last Christmas? Or the year before? It is more likely you remember the experiences – the carol singing, the Christingle service with the children, Christmas day dinner.
If you have a minimalist or sustainable mind-set, Christmas also poses a dilemma if you don’t feel able to break-away from social norms. Friends still expect gifts, don’t they? Kids want gifts certainly. Festivities are naturally un-minimalist.
How do we cut back without offending anyone?
Firstly, communication is key. Chat with your friends and family; maybe they want to cut back too. Maybe you share a meal with friends rather than sending each other gifts? You might have mixed feelings about secret santa but use the same ethos without the ‘secret’ part and you can opt for quality gifts over quantity. For example, if you have two siblings then suggest you each buy one gift for one sibling. It cuts down on stress as well as an excess of things.
Avoid buying excess food; you WILL have enough. Baking your own gingerbread or mince pies is a good family-friendly activity and doesn’t take long. Make your own decorations from natural foliage and pine cones, and use reusable gift wrap or simply recycle newspaper.
Good gifts for minimalists
Good gifts for minimalists are either experiences, or consumables. Consumables largely includes food and drink ! We need to eat, so why not buy us something fancy ? Wine, chocolate, or even cheese; just look out for sustainable packaging. It has never been easier to buy experiences too, but if you want to do this then try to buy from independent businesses – a voucher for the local beauty salon or theatre tickets are great options. Memberships and subscriptions make for gifts that just keep giving. Ideas include a monthly coffee subscription or membership to a gallery.
Most people with a sustainably-minded approach to minimalism will appreciate second-hand gifts as much, or more than, brand new things. Checking out the local charity shops or antique centres might require a commitment of time from you, but it’s worth it when you find a unique and eco-friendly present.
Of course, minimalism is not just about being environmentally friendly. It’s just as much about living a simpler life. And as Christmas can get unnecessarily complicated for many of us, it’s worth keeping in mind that it doesn’t have to be.
K.I.S.S, as they say. Keep It Simple Stupid.