Happy Christmas Season everyone! I just wanted to quickly knock together a festive post on our plans for Jesse’s first Christmas, with the added quirk of now going minimalist! So here are 5 things we’re doing that may seem a little “quackers” and 5 festive minimalist tips! I hope this sparks some ideas if you are also looking to keep minimalism in your lives for the holidays…
1. Driving Home For Christmas.
We will be spending over 10 beautiful days up North with our family and friends in Cumbria this year. After hosting for my parents and grandparents for the last 2 years, we felt it more appropriate to give Jesse a Cumbrian Christmas for his firs year! This way everyone will be able to spend most valuable time with him, without us worrying about who to put up in our guest room.
Invest in time and experience over physical, material items.
2. Cutting the “buy for” list.
Our financial situation did push us more to decrease our “buy for” list as we now have our only little person to think of full time and not just for Christmas.
I ensured I spoke to my friends early on to ensure that we come up with a suitable alternative to gift buying– which was,indeed, sticking to that first tip- investing more in time and experiences by having a full day out together with Jesse! Going home and actually being present with family and friends is certainly better than getting an actual present when you live far away.
For you, it may be more appealing to have a family day (out or cosy duvet day), spend a day volunteering or giving back to the community in some form or going for a walk! So many people spend Christmas Day either in the kitchen, at a dining table or on the couch- why not be part of the minority who embrace the outdoors. You could even book a trip and spend Christmas in another country!
There are so many ways to spend money at Christmas time that is not spent on physical, material items! I have always enjoyed making home movies as it gives the person an experience in a physical form- now we’re in the digital age, it’s not something that even needs to be physical!
Plan a suitable alternative to gift-buying in plenty of time with the people you love.
3. Understanding the reasoning behind gift-giving.
If you are seriously considering having a quirky Christmas and feel familiar anxiety of being skint in January, then perhaps you need to address the following questions:
What is the purpose of buying the gift?
What value has this person given you, so that you wish to buy for them?
Does this really have to be bought now?
Do you actually need to spend money on all gifts?
Christmas should be an enjoyable holiday, without feelings of guilt, anxiety or ego-like needs to impress with who can spend the most. By understanding the reasons behind gift-giving (yours, personally) you will feel like the money you do spend (or time) is put to the best use possible!
The gifts we have bought for our family this year are not what I consider to be material items. I also feel that these are the people that have supported Dean and I with Jesse and even prior to us having him! So I wanted to repay these people in some way to show our appreciation, not just because it’s Christmas.
I’ve found that by giving more thought into who we buy for, the more thought and creativity we can put into everyone’s gifts!
There are ways of expressing gratitude for free to others we feel we wish to thank- like making something. If you like cooking, head out on a cookie delivery or if you are crafty, put your skills to good use and make something your family will cherish!
Only buy for people who have provided you with value if your life, as an expression of gratitude, not just because it is Christmas.
4. Cutting the “tat”!
Following on from the previous tip; if you are tearing your hair out, not knowing what to get a certain person for Christmas because they just seem to have or not like anything, then perhaps you don’t buy for this person at this time!
Since becoming a minimalist, I have moved away from the concept of buying a gift just so they have something to unwrap on Christmas Day. Things like this I’ve bought in the past I consider to be “tat”. You know, those novelty items you can get from the gadget store or on the seasonal section in Debenhams, like singing mugs and ridiculously tiny versions of functional things with their favourite football team on. These things often only get used once, soon to be replaced by the original, regular sized item again.
You know your friends and family. If the reason you are buying it is because you just “have to get it before Christmas Eve” and it’s easier to get it all in one place, then maybe isn’t worth buying for right now- perhaps you could surprise them with a gift in the right moment.
I have just spent a month clearing out useless items from our home- I now feel I put the same thought behind buying gifts as I do when making my own purchases. Finding/ making/ buying a gift should be just as enjoyable as receiving something (if not, more!) If it seems like a task or routine to do Christmas shopping, then just stop! Christmas is right at the end of, what’s probably been a stressful or eventful year. The last thing you need is the stress of spending your hard-earned cash on something you aren’t even sure will be of good use to the person, but you have to buy it now!
You don’t “have to” do anything that causes stress or anxiety. The negativity will pass through that item when you, uncertainly, give it to the person- would you want them to experience that?
Don’t resort to “tat” by the pressure of thinking you “have to” buy it now!
5. Embracing the joy of “now”, without expectations.
I feel there is a theme running through all of these tips, which finally leads my to my end point. Surround yourself with positive, loving people, peaceful animals and objects, embracing the unique atmosphere of Christmas in the best way you can, without expectations.
Remember not to put pressure on yourself for not buying Auntie Jean’s bath bomb, or not considering vegan alternatives at your nibbles Christmas tea. Don’t give your son a hard time for wanting to call his friend during the Queen’s Speech.
Traditions can often lead to expectations, especially at Christmas- people assume we all have the same schedule. For the first time, our family has no set-in-stone plan for Christmas Day. Having expectations is the worst recipe for a peaceful Christmas.
Need I state the obvious, that when it doesn’t all go according to plan, there is just a tense and negative atmosphere. Just like Weddings, religious ceremonies etc. -we are just filled with expectations, thinking we know exactly how everything is going to go…
But guess what? This is the 21st Century of an ever-evolving universe, where more and more people are choosing a “quirky” lifestyle and finding respect for their own freedom as living beings, here, in this existence… where nothing is expected.
The secret to true happiness is to expect nothing and just enjoy embracing what is now
– a truly Happy Zen Christmas!
So there you go- let a bit of Buddhist inspiration out in the end there! But trust me, this mindset has helped me feel more peaceful and joy in life, so I hope it can for you too, starting with a new, quirky Christmas!
Thank you for reading!
Enjoy the festive season and all the best for 2019 🙂
Mama Quackers x