Minimalist Christmas Guide 2018

Wait, when did this Christmas thing happen? Maybe it is because we have recently moved to Miami and it still feels like summer, but I have no idea where the months of October and November even went. I feel like I am already being bombarded with “gift guides” by my favorite bloggers and the stores are already slashing prices left and right. I am going to be honest, the holiday season is the hardest for me to stick to my minimalist goals and ideals. My love language is gift giving and it is so deeply rooted in my side of the family’s traditions that it has taken a lot of creativity to learn how to manage the holiday season without hitting January with no storage space and a drained bank account. We have been trying to get creative with our gift giving the past two years. Our goal is pretty simple: buy less things, spend less money, make it if possible, and responsible purchases.

Below is a little guide of the tips and tricks we have come up with over the past few years. I hope you can use some of these ideas for the loved ones on your list!


Experience Gifts-

These are great if you have an entire family to gift or even multiple kids in a family. Take what you have budgeted for the whole family and throw it together to get the whole family something special. These tend to be a little more expensive, which is why it is best to gift the entire family. If you have a big “gift opening” tradition, get creative with a handmade card. Build up the hype of the gift with a little scavenger hunt around the house to reveal where they will be going. This one is also a key category if you are flying! You best believe you can fit much more in that carry on when it is not a actual wrapped present. Here are some ideas, but think about who you are gifting, what do they like to do? What would be a “treat”. If they aren’t from your town, hop online and see what their city offers!

  • Zoo Passes
  • Museum Memberships
  • Aquarium Passes
  • Concert Tickets
  • A family photoshoot with local photographer
  • Pottery Classes
  • Rock climbing Passes
  • Music Lessons
  • YMCA membership
  • Television subscriptions (added movie channels or sports packages)
  • Music subscriptions (Applemusic, Pandora One, Spotify)

Homemade Gifts-

If you have a kid, these are so easy. Last year we had this beautiful piece of wood that we bought for a  home project and it was just sitting in our basement. We sanded it down, finished it, added handles and plopped Nora’s tiny little foot in some paint and it turned into a really pretty serving tray with a cute personal touch. Look around at the random supplies you have in your house, can you repurpose it as a gift? Throw some elbow grease on it (that isn’t the saying, but you know what I mean)… if you can accomplish that, then heck you are truly winning at life.

I already have purchased a package of blank white card stock cards. When Nora wants to “paint” with her watercolors, guess what I have been giving her… those cards. A few more art sessions and I should have a nice collection of cute little toddler painted cards to use with my gifts. Soooo much cheaper than buying printed holiday cards for each gift, and besides, it may even make someone’s fridge because who doesn’t love toddler art. Note: if you are relying on toddler art for a gift, start early. If they know they need you to paint, they will not do what you need them too.

If you have any artistic skills this is the time to showcase them. My sister is in architecture school and has been doing little sketches of family houses and special buildings, framing them and gifting them. They are just so cute and mean so much!

  • Other homemade gift ideas:
  • Essential oil blends- most of us have them, make a potion, gift it
  • Painted or homemade frames for photos
  • A quilt made of sweaters or t shirts – make it themed, baby sweaters or sports T shirts
  • Framing anything sentimental- a first house key, a family heirloom
  • Custom art, if you are an artist (or pretend to be one, like me)

Offer Your Talents-

Okay so maybe making a quilt of baby sweater is like WAY out of your league, but what else can you DO to TREAT someone.  If you live near the recipient of the gift, plan to do something for them. Just like the experience gifts, write it in a cute little card and proudly put it under the tree. What are your skills? Are you a master organizer or a good cook?

  • Organize a closet or pantry
  • Cooking a fancy multiple course meal, make it themed or for a big occasion
  • Freezer meals for a week (where my crockpot moms at? No but really I would LOVE this gift)
  • Detailing, washing someone’s car
  • Stylist Session (fashionistas, go to your friends closet. Put together outfits and take pictures of what you come up with. Not having to put together an outfit is a HUGE gift)
  • Yard work – mow, pull weeds, shovel snow
  • Babysit- order pizza and put on a movie, you’ll get through it and it will be much appreciated

Consumable Gifts-

Yep, not rocket science. Sure it is something you will have to purchase but you can rest assured you aren’t contributing to additional waste. Everyone eats.

  • Craft beers
  • wines
  • dried good
  • themed baskets
  • candles
  • Trader Joe’s goodies for someone who doesn’t live near a Trader Joe’s (dark chocolate peanut butter cups anyone?)


Shop Smart-

The reality is, I can knock a lot of people off of my shopping list with the above, but I am just not good enough at this yet to not have to go purchase a gift for someone. (GOALS, am I right?) So when I do, I make sure that I purchase from a small shop, and is ethically sourced/made. If I am going to spend money and promote this crazy spending holiday, I want my money to go to small business owners and people who deserve it.

Be Kind. To Yourself.

If you can pull off a completely minimal Christmas, good for you. Seriously, but if you decide to cut back this year and do this minimalist thing, understand IT IS A PROCESS. Otherwise you will inevitably channel all of the shopping anxiety that you had prior to this minimalist adventure and turn it into guilt and anxiety about “not being minimalist”. The goal here is to spend less, love more. Enjoy More. It is a process. Little changes are big changes. Even if you cut your budget by $20 that is huge progress! And guess what? You can take what you like out of this list and ignore what you don’t. I am most likely going to order something from Anthropologie for my little sister because it brings me joy and I know she will love it. Does it follow any of my rules? Nope. But it makes me happy and what is the goal? ENJOY THE HOLIDAYS

If you want to learn more about minimalism and its mental health benefits contact me today.

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