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5 steps to a more simple Christmas
I’m usually the kind of person who is almost finished Christmas shopping sometime in October. -shop all year and I finish very early. But not this year. This year, I wanted to do things more simply I wanted to declutter and simplify, not bring in more things to store. I wanted to have a simpler Christmas, with fewer gifts.
My sister recently shared a photo on Facebook. It was something that’s been going around for a while. The idea of 4 Christmas gifts, want, need, wear, read. This idea has been around for a while, and who wouldn’t want a simpler Christmas? If you ask yourself, do your kids really need a large number of gifts, the answer is probably not.
This blog post is not to shame anyone who wants to have a big Christmas. If you want a big Christmas with lavish gifts, that’s just fine! This particular post just isn’t for you. If you are struggling to get your kids to be grateful for what they have, live a more minimal lifestyle, or just cut some chaos out of Christmas, it’s for you.
Want, Need, Wear, Read
I think that this is a good idea, but it’s more of a starting point than a hard rule. What if what they want is also something that they read? What if what they need is something that they wear? Again, it’s a good starting point, but make it work for you. For us this year, I am doing an advent calendar, a “big” gift (basically the “want”), PJs, and stockings. My kids don’t “need” anything. They have clothes and food and a roof over their heads. So I am pretty much skipping this one. They did need new winter coats this year, but I bought them already. It’s already cold, so it would be weird to make them wait until Christmas! I’m trying really hard to avoid toys this year, they have way too many toys! My friend Andrea at To Simplicity gave me a great idea for kids who have too many toys. She said she tells her daughter that Santa can’t bring toys until she makes room by getting rid of some of her old toys.
Get everyone on board
Fortunately for me, my mom and my sister are completely on board with a minimal Christmas. My sister actually asked me to write this post! We had an episode a few years ago where the kids got bored opening their presents. That was a good sign for all of us that they were getting way too much! It might not be possible to get everyone on board, some grandparents like spoiling their grandkids. Check out #4 for ideas on how to deal with family who doesn’t understand.
Related Post: 10 ways to save money this Christmas
Here are 5 simple ways to have a more minimal, simple Christmas
1. Advent Calendars
Advent calendars are really fun. They aren’t terribly expensive, and it’s something to look forward to. My older kids love the Lego advent calendars, and there are plenty of options for younger kids too. Last year we did a Thomas calendar for my youngest. These are absolutely not necessary, and yes, they have a lot of pieces. However, its worth it to me because my kids really enjoy them and it’s a fun Christmas tradition. If you’re a DIYer (which I am not) you could even make your own!
2. Choose simple, educational, consumable or combined gifts
Choose gifts that last longer than toys that will break or lose pieces immediately. I like gifts that encourage imagination (like LEGOs), gifts that encourage using your brain, like board games, books or puzzles, and gifts that encourage movement or playing outside.
Another way to have a more simple Christmas is to combine gifts. If your children are close in age, you could combine a larger gift that they would all enjoy instead of several smaller gifts.
Consumable gifts are another option, this doesn’t have to mean food, although it can. Here are some examples of consumable gifts.
- Passes to an amusement park or sports event
- Movie tickets
- Makeup or other cosmetics
- Art supplies
- Gift cards
- Netflix gift subscription
- Kindle Unlimited gift subscription
- Food/coffee baskets
- Hobby classes
You can probably think of plenty of other consumable gift ideas. These are great for an individual or family who you know is trying to be more minimal with their possessions.
3. Buy spouses and other adults useful gifts
…or don’t buy each other gifts at all. My family (7 adults) draws for names for adults. We have a $20 limit, so everyone gets one gift and it’s very expensive for anyone. We also don’t keep things a secret, and pretty much ask everyone exactly what they want.
You could choose to forego gifts altogether with your spouse, or maybe take a weekend or even just a date night together instead of gifts. If gifts are important to you, try to stick to useful items that you actually need, instead of buying a gift for the sake of buying it.
For example, my husband bought me a necklace once. I appreciated it, but I don’t wear jewelry (except my wedding ring and a Fitbit.) For me, jewelry isn’t a useful gift, and I hardly ever wear it. Last year, I got a Keurig, which may not seem personal, but I love it and use it every morning.
4. Ask that your family to not buy gifts for you, or to exclude certain types of gifts
I get it, this sounds harsh. This is primarily for adults, if you don’t need anything, request no gifts. This can get really complicated when you have kids. If your family can’t imagine not buying toys for the kids, you might need to come up with a compromise. Is it really worth having a bad relationship with family, just to get your way? Why not recommend gifts that encourage learning, like Melissa and Doug toys or puzzles, or books from the book fair? Requesting clothes for the upcoming season is another great compromise.
5. Inexpensive stocking stuffers that aren’t junk
My kids love stockings, my sister’s kids love stockings, your kids probably do too! Instead of omitting them altogether, why not choose stocker stuffers that higher quality? Choose 3 or 4 items instead of a bunch of small things. Here are some (non-junk) stocking stuffer ideas for a variety of ages.
- Thomas trains (and mini trains!)
- Earbuds or chargers (because we all lose these)
- A favorite candy, snack or fruit
- Fun socks
- New colored pencils or crayons
- Small LEGO sets
+ a gift for someone in need
I was looking on Pinterest, and I saw the typically “Something they want, something they need, something to wear, something to read” pin. However, this one also had “plus a gift for someone in need.” This is an excellent idea. No matter how big or small your Christmas, teaching kids about giving is always a valuable lesson. There are so many opportunities to do this. There are large projects like Angel Tree or Operation Christmas Child. You can probably find opportunities in your own community too. Last year, we decided to do this last minute, and we didn’t have many options! We paid for a bunch of pizzas at the gas station anonymously at two different times during the day. The kids had a great time, but we will plan something better this year!
Teaching your kids about giving is one of the most important things that you can do, and Christmas is the best time of the year to start.
What are you doing this year to have a more simple Christmas? I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments!