A MINIMALIST CHRISTMAS
It is just over a month until Christmas. On Saturday night the town Christmas lights were switched on and as I took a walk around town the other day I noticed that Christmas music was playing in all the shops. There’s definitely a buzz in the air as festive cheer begins to unfold and people look forward to the celebrations of the season. My heart did have a little bit of a fluttery panic as I wandered around the shops though. I hadn’t yet bought a single gift you see, and as everything around me pointed to the imminent arrival of Christmas I began to feel the pressure that also accompanies the cheerfulness of the season!
As I stared out of the bus window on my way home at the twinkling lights and people rushing around I took a deep breath and reminded myself of the discussion my husband and I had recently had about how we were going to approach Christmas 2017.
At the beginning of the year I wrote a blog post called Simplicity outlining my plans to make my life, home and outlook all more simple. Throughout the year I have decluttered our family home, my digital life, our calendars (admittedly the most challenging part with 3 very active children) and have tackled my outlook on life. I have enjoyed thinking about our impact on the planet and reconsidering how we live in order to live more consciously and carefully with regard to our environment. It has been really tough at times but also equally rewarding to strip back to the basics and remove anything that is surplus to requirements – from unworn clothes, to unhelpful and unhealthy thought processes, from junk mail (both physical and digital) to rethinking how we behave as consumers. We have made a ton of changes and are well aware that we still have a long path ahead of us on this journey of living more mindfully and considerately towards others, ourselves and our world.
WANT, NEED, WEAR, READ
With all of these changes and endeavours whirling around in our heads we got to thinking about what to do regarding Christmas gifts this year. Do we buy the kids a load of stuff they don’t need just because that’s the norm? Or do we only buy them a certain number of gifts? Or stick to a certain budget?
I had heard someone say last year that they used the ‘something you want, something you need, something to wear, something to read’ formula when it came to purchasing gifts for their children. I liked this idea because it allows room for the children to ask Santa for something they really want and also includes some items they’ll get practical use out of, and of course reading is always to be encouraged! We also decided that alongside this plan, we would add in a ‘little surprise’ – a gift that we think would suit our children’s individual personalities. For example, our middle son is dinosaur and nature mad so we have ordered him a year’s subscription to National Geographic Kids – I know he will LOVE this and it’s something he can look forward to receiving in the post every month.
So, although I hadn’t bought any presents earlier this week, I did have a plan in mind and my husband and I had thought long and hard about the gifts we wanted to buy. The panic I felt in town was unnecessary and I was able to go online, or into my local shops the past few days and get everything without any stress or pressure and I am really pleased that I haven’t spent a crazy amount of money in the process. I didn’t have a budget per child, but an overall budget and I have stuck to it I am delighted to say!
With all the hassle of running about trying to think of gifts to buy eliminated, I feel I can now enter the festive season and actually enjoy it as I always intend to but never really get around to doing. There will be time for the hot chocolate, snuggles and DVDS. There’ll be time to make the treats that the kids like to give out to friends and neighbours. There’ll be time to bake, or make cards, to go for chilly winter walks in the park and just enjoy spending quality time together rather than spending unnecessary amounts of money on things that aren’t really needed.
Giving gifts should be a joy, and well thought-out gifts by conscious consumers can make Christmas something that is all about quality over quantity. It’s certainly not about the number of presents received, but the fact that someone has thought of you in the first place is it not?
I want my children to look forward to Christmas because it signifies being together, making memories, that it means presence over presents. This year we are also doing ‘Secret Santa’ among the 5 of us, with a budget of £5 per person, so that the boys learn to enjoy giving a gift too. I’m hoping they’ll put a little thought into whatever they buy and that seeing the recipient open it on Christmas Day will bring a smile to their wee faces!
We don’t need to bankrupt ourselves to make Christmas special and memorable and we certainly don’t need to join the throngs of frantic shoppers, that’s definitely NOT FUN! It is possible to have a slow, meaningful, precious Christmas that sparkles in its own right without going overboard or getting into debt.
It is worth bearing in mind also that there are many, many people who spend Christmas alone. Why not buy or make a small gift for an elderly neighbour or someone else who might need shown some love during what can be a really difficult time of the year. Instead of buying just one more stocking filler for the kids, which in reality they’ll probably never look at, make someone else’s Christmas a little brighter with a kind gesture.
I hope that however you are spending your festive season, that it is magical and fun, filled with laughter, singing and chatter with those most dear to you. I encourage you to spend fewer pounds, buy wisely and thoughtfully and keep close to your heart the true reasons for the season.