Congratulations on opting for a minimalist Christmas, or at least thinking about how to have a clutter-free Christmas. If you’re like me and appreciate minimalism, but you also love giving gifts – you just need to find a way to buy or make gifts that don’t sit around and collect dust for the next three years or until whenever they’re regifted.
What is a minimalist Christmas? It could mean lots of things:
- less emphasis on materialism
- greener, more environmentally friendly celebrations
- spending time rather than money
- focusing on relationships rather than things
- tackling the problems of life rather than avoiding them
- doing the 20% that gets you the 80% of results
- choosing mindfulness rather than mindlessness
By choosing the right gifts, you can solve several “problems” at once – cutting down on all sorts of waste and adding much more essential value.
If you can, try to make your gift serve more than one purpose. The more, the better. Think: reusable, long-lasting, relationship-building and problem-solving. As you proceed with or finish up your holiday gift shopping, consider some of these questions.
Will this gift help my friend/sister/in-laws get ahead?
Is it something I, or a member of their family, or someone else, would actually use?
Is the gift meaningful – does it solve a problem in their own life or does it bring people together?
In other words, how much leverage will they get from this gift? How much will it make a difference? Remember, not only are you spending money on the gift and the time to find it and wrap it, etc., but the gift takes up space in that person’s life. Is it worth the extra attention it demands as a result?
Mindful, Minimalist Christmas Gifts
Life is one long string of experience – and the quality of a life depends upon the quality of these experiences. Time is the ultimate currency here. So take an old friend out for coffee, go on a weekend trip to a city you’ve never been to with your partner, or get out and meet some new people. You could take an AA meeting and turn it into one of the best Christmas gifts you could possibly give yourself.
- Host a party
- Go somewhere different
- Do something different
- Drive to a new town
- Spend Christmas abroad
Most experiences wouldn’t be what they are without the people we share them with. And relationships depend upon good communication. Have that difficult conversation you’ve been putting off, call the relative you have ignored, make sure no one is going lonely this season. And don’t forget the relationship with yourself – why not take some time to write your thoughts in a journal if you do not do this on a regular basis? If that bores you, why not try writing a letter to your future self or child?
- Get the *whole* family together
- Meet in person – go beyond Facebook
- Forgive someone
- Share something personal
- Take a risk
Giving to Others.
This is not limited to what we know as charity – giving to others (usually strangers?) in financial need. Go out of your way to help someone out with a personal goal. Does your neighbour need a ride into town? How about your own relatives? Is anyone going through a tough patch? Can you put aside your usual relationship to help them out (if this is not what you would normally do)? Give your time, but also your patience with those who take longer or need more care and attention.
- Make them a dinner
- Treat your colleague/assistant/acquaintance
- Run errands for someone
- Give a hug
- Help your lower-income brother/sister out
Catch up with yourself.
How’s your life going (judge yourself only by the actions you have taken – not the mindless chatter that runs through your head every day.)? Do some of the things you know you need to do that you’ve been putting off. Take advantage of the slower time of year to turn inward and take the extra time and focus to clear up some of the “personal clutter” in your life in order to get ready for a fresh start next year. Balance your finances, get clear on your goals. What’s not working? Break it down. What parts can you fix? What would you still like to do that you haven’t done yet?
- Get a haircut/massage/spa treatment
- Determine your current health
- Where do you want to be this time next year?
- What went really well for you this year, and why?
- Your biggest mistakes this year?
In other words, use the holiday season as an opportunity to become more aware and awaken to what really matters in life. You already know it intellectually, now try to live it a little more. These types of gifts are often free and will last much longer, and be much more meaningful than most objects (although certain objects, of course, can be very helpful and important to someone).
Do you have other ideas you could add to this list? Material gifts, perhaps, that would fulfill one of these categories? As I think about some of the gift-buying I’ve already done, I’m aware that as nice as the gifts are, and as fun as they are to buy as well as receive, many are just distractions and window-dressing. I will still give them (eg., some are cd’s, and music is pleasant to have around and can add to someone’s experience), but I am also mindful not to forget the real giving that needs to take place, too.
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