Having a minimalist approach to Christmas and gift-giving has practically saved my relationship with the season. I, who always felt slightly queasy during the unwrapping moments. I, who could barely think about Christmas without also feeling the guilt, remembering crushing memories of unneeded gifts. I, who am still not the greatest fan of receiving – OR giving, for that matter.

The best year my family ever had was, in my humble opinion, when we decided on a gift-free Christmas. What I did instead, now that I didn’t spend time freaking out about, planning, searching, and preparing gifts? Glad you asked.

  • I actually ENJOYED December. I remember much more of it. Walks on the fairytale looking city streets at night, making my own decorations all over my apartment, looking at 100s of movies with my parents. Making advanced vegetarian food on Christmas Eve.
  • I had money. That money instead went to coffee dates with friends before we all headed home for the holiday, a Christmas concert, saffron, and cozy markets.
  • On Christmas Eve, we came home from church, but instead of filling the room with anticipation (or anxiety), waiting for the gift session to start, we focused on the dinner. We extended it and had amazing conversations. It went on until that concert on TV that we enjoy watching. That was a Christmas well spent with family. And the calm!

Gift money mindset

The difference between the Christmases became extra clear as we, the following year, went back to gift giving. Hey, said December stress. Missed me?

Being a minimalist during this season is very triggering, very challenging, but here are some awesome ideas to ease your stress, and add meaning again:

  • Introduce a gift free year. (At least among the adults in the family) See the quality of the days change as the focus is shifted and there are fewer distractions.
  • Suggest ‘Secret Santa’ or ‘Roll the Dice’ gift exchange game. You only have to find ONE thing and with the latter, it is not even a personal one.
  • Ask if the others, intead of buying gifts for everyone, are all up for investing the same amount of money into a little adventure, trip, hike, experience. Together.

Invest in experiences, stories to tell – instead of things.

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