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thoughts on the holidays and minimalism

The idea for this post started with me thinking I would share some of my tips for not over-spending or being to ‘consumery’ at the holidays. As I began preparing to write it, I had a lot of other thoughts and feelings– so I’m asking you to go with me on this little journey.

I have always been a little bit of an odd ball in terms of spending. I differ from the majority of my friends and peers in that I don’t regularly spend money on coffees out, lunch or dinner out, cute little things I find at the store that I love, or really anything for myself. If I’m spending, it’s typically on others. But I’m a gift giver and I love doing that for others, it brings me more joy than buying for myself. But as you may guess, this makes people curious when they hear that I don’t ‘spend’ on myself often.

Yesterday, I was reading a book (or trying to at least) from a lady who dropped her life and decided to travel. I was struck with a feeling of annoyance at how flippantly she spoke about the ability to just get up and go, wherever she wanted, because she had the means and would be welcomed anywhere (being a white woman). I was also struck with being torn between agreeing that one should do what they feel is best for them and the fact that not all have those options available to them. This led me to thinking about our society and culture of spending. I know.. I know.. but I told you before it was going to be a ride, right? 🙂

Our society and culture is always sending the message that we must have the newest best thing or we fall short. The newest phone, the newest clothing items, the best shoes. While more and more we are embracing being an individual we are still constantly told we need to buy buy buy. This causes a lot of stress for those who don’t have the means. I know you’ve heard “keeping up with the Jones” and that’s a real thing. With social media being at our fingertips, literally all day every day, people are constantly bombarded with their favorite influences or celebrities showing their newest best items. We, as a nation, are constantly in debt just to keep up with our friends and the idea of what we believe we should be. After trying to read that book, I became so frustrated I couldn’t finish it and instead picked up the next one I got from the library on loneliness and human connection (big jump, right? stick with me)

This leads me to my (almost) last point. All of these messages from society and our way of living as a culture lead us to believe that if we don’t have, buy or consume these awesome things we fall short and we fail. This can lead to comparison with others, low self image, depression, anxiety and yep you guessed it, loneliness. It is so easy to fall into the “I’m not good enough because I can’t afford ____” or “I don’t look like her because I don’t have _____”. I want to go back to a simpler time of less stuff and more joy.

So how do we do simple-minimalist Christmas (or life). Minimalism to me isn’t not buying or consuming, it’s buying and consuming with intention and purpose. So here are some guidelines I try to follow in order to stay as close to minimalism as I can during the holidays (and life):

minimalism guidelines:

When choosing gifts:
  • does this person need this gift (could they rent it or borrow it from another resource like the library or a friend)
  • will this person use this gift regularly?
  • is this gift sustainable?
  • is this gift thoughtful?
  • when possible, give the gift of an experience vs an item or toy
  • you and your family could choose to do a secret Santa and only buy for one person or choose to not do a gift exchange at all for the adults and focus on the kiddos.
When choosing decorations:
  • can I reuse or repurpose decorations from previous years?
  • can I make this decoration for less and with things I already own?
  • do I really need this? (James and I haven’t had a Christmas tree in the last 3 years- we decided that it was more important to keep them in the ground than to bring one into the house. Therefore, we got some solar lights to decorate a tree outside to save the tree and use solar power, too)
  • choose pieces that mean something to you and focus on those select items (I purchased a countdown gnome this year which has been fun for me to change each morning. other than that, we have lights and greenery that we spruce up each year.)

When celebrating, try to agree to only things you want to do. Be intentional with your time and find joy in those things you actually want to do. If you’ve made it this far, thank you for following along for my rant 🙂

I hope this list is helpful to you + if you have minimalist ideas for the holidays, please share them below.

♥- J


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