A Simple Approach to Living With Less

Confessions from a Gift-Buying Minimalist

Initially, I thought a minimalist Christmas would be a cinch. Less shopping, more time. Awesome! Surprisingly, I found it has taken so much more thought, reflection, and planning to have a minimalist Christmas. Picking up a basket of candles or a cheap plastic toy on sale was so much easier!

My version of a minimalist Christmas may not be the typical version you will read about on other minimalist blogs. All of our journey’s are unique and I have a few confessions to make.

CONFESSION: It frustrates me to read other minimalist blogs about Christmas. It makes me feel like my vision of Christmas isn’t the “right” way to do things. I want to buy people gifts because I love them. I want to use the money I saved and worked for to put silly little bows on boxes that I know my two year old will love ripping off. I don’t want to get sucked into thinking that my life needs to fall into a certain category or that I should go along with the crowd.

CONFESSION: I am not ready for a Christmas with zero gifts. That may not make me any points in the minimalist community, but that’s where I am right now. The changes we are making as a family are radical for us and that’s all that matters. For the first time ever, we are actually stopping to ask questions like:

1) Is this a meaningful gift or just something to buy to check off a list?

2) Will this item last and be enjoyed for a long time in the future?

3) Does this gift fit the person’s personality and interests?

4) What could we do together instead of exchanging gifts?

CONFESSION: I’m making up a fake Christmas list for myself. Despite the fact I am making and buying gifts for others, there’s nothing I can think of that I want for Christmas. My family is a group of big gift givers and they love picking out gifts for people. Everyone keeps asking me what I want and I can honestly say that I don’t want or need anything. So, I’m actually trying to come up with a list of things I need so I can give people a list to choose from.

CONFESSION: I’m already a little stressed out about the potential Christmas gift clutter we’ll be receiving. I’m going to try to not let it bother me because I know it’s coming. I’ve been spending tons of time getting rid of things and cleaning out boxes from our storage unit so I really don’t want more clutter moving in. However, I’m starting the pep talks with myself now so I can appreciate the well-meaning intentions behind the gifts.

CONFESSION: I’m not sure we’ll go gift-free any time soon, but we’re making progress. Our kids wrote Santa this year and told him they didn’t need any gifts and to take them to other children who needed them. Maybe that’s silly, but I see it as progress. We are definitely choosing fewer gifts for our children with an emphasis on buying things that will last. I have also convinced some friends and family not to spend money on a gift for us but to plan a dinner together instead. Just the new awareness and evaluating things with fresh eyes feels like progress to me.

Do you have a confession of your own? I hope your holidays are peaceful and you make the kind of experience that fits your family’s needs. Don’t look for gifts as a replacement of joy and love, but if you find joy in giving I don’t think anyone should feel guilty about that either.


This is a section from my holiday guide, A Minimalist Family Christmas. If you’re looking for advice and ideas on simplifying your holidays you should check it out.

If you enjoyed this post, please consider subscribing to Minimalist at Home or share it on Twitter. Thanks so much for reading!

photo by sskies

Article originally published on 12/02/2010

Crafts and Hobbies: Maximum Creativity with Minimal Mess

I received several requests to talk about what to do with craft clutter around the house. I am a fellow crafter so I understand the desire to have all kinds of crafts supplies just waiting for my creativity to strike. The difficult balance seems to … [Continue reading]

Setting the Course

As a stay-at-home mom, I feel that it’s my job to set the course for how our home functions. I don’t see it as old-fashioned to believe that my responsibilities include meal planning, keeping everyone clothed in something clean, and managing the mess … [Continue reading]

Simplicity is Relative

As I pack for our family vacation today, I am once again overwhelmed. I have faint memories of what it was once like to pack for a trip and only be concerned about what I needed for myself. Now I must consider the needs of my kids as well. My boys … [Continue reading]

Busy is Easy. Slowing Down is Hard.

Being busy is familiar. We have become comfortable with the chaos because it’s all we really know. Being busy moves you from one soccer game to the next dance recital with a dozen appointments and meetings in between. You never have to question what … [Continue reading]