We have an unwritten rule in our house – we don’t mention the ‘C Word’ until after the last family birthday. Well, that has happened, and now we are safely into December, so it is now safe to talk about Christmas… well, talk about Christmas and how despite, now considering myself a minimalist, it has not become less stressful as all of the articles and blogs I read suggested it would! What do you do when you don’t want extra stuff in your house, but others insist on buying you things? And what about all of the excess ‘tat’ that seems to be part and parcel of the season? Let’s have a look at tiptoeing the minefield that is a family Christmas….
I have spent the last 3 or 4 years trying out various ways to ‘do’ Christmas, in a way that will become part of the ‘Thompson Tradition’, some have fallen by the way, such as the time we all had 12 presents that were themed to each month (January = Winter clothes, February = love hearts,… and then it got tenuous and weird… June = Bugs (spider man gift! etc) but one that has stuck is the Advent Tree. Basically, it is an old wooden tree I saved from the bin about 13 years ago, which has, conveniently, 24 prongs, on which to hang little bags that generally contain a child’s name and they then get a present… this year it is presents for all, with them already having shared biscuits, Twinkies and attempting to build a gingerbread house (it did not go well!). Cool traditions are a great way of bonding with the family without having to spend too much, or indulge in buying a mountain of plastic tat. Most of the prizes in this years advent-aganza™ are edible, wearable or fun activities so will not be cluttering up the house for the holidays or the foreseeable future.
This weeks vlog is about some tips for a minimalist Christmas – mainly because I have not done anything towards the Kettle List and I am busy getting ready to start my new job – so I will briefly list them here:
- DECLUTTER! – make it a part of Christmas: old stuff out, so new stuff can come in. Everyone wants a tidy house for the holidays and new year, so get everyone involved.
- Sustainable wrapping: While in Japan I became a bit addicted to furoshiki, and have decided to wrap many of the presents in them. I also used tea towels, bento boxes, material bags and fleece blankets, so the wrappings are also gifts and will save on the papery aftermath.
- While ‘presence is the best present’ and the greatest gift is love, if your family are the sort that will call BS and claim you are just being a tight-wad, consider experiences. Maybe gifts such as a trip to the local Cat Cafe, or a voucher they can cash in for free babysitting. Look at giving food, or toiletries you KNOW they will use and like (not just buying a ‘gift set’ because it was the cheapest thing in Boots!) Consider what you know about the person: what do they like? Don’t know? Ask them what they want. And under NO circumstances do you give people empty jars with cutesy labels that have a poem about how you wanted nothing. There is a special circle reserved in hell for those people!
Whatever you decide to buy, do it for the right reason, with the right attitude and with knowledge that the recipient will love it… Christmas is about making others happy so be sure your gifts will do that!