The Holidays and Minimalism
I’ve been reading through some minimalism books, and they all seem to say the same thing: “Get rid of all your stuff, and you’ll be happy. Keep only things that are meaningful to you. Buy experiences, not things.”
That sounds great, and then I look up and remember it’s the holiday season. Every other commercial has turned holiday tunes into jingles. The message of each ad can be distilled to: “Buy expensive stuff or your family won’t love you.”
I got a catalog in the mail (one of many) which boasted, “Black Friday sales start Nov. 12!”
Okay, first, a Friday cannot be 11 days long. Second, why are we creating new holidays dedicated to shopping?
I was planning to write a kind of bland “oh you know, shop secondhand, reuse newspaper as wrappings” kind of story, but that doesn’t scratch the surface. So here is my answer to this madness:
It’s okay to give gifts. It’s okay to shop. Just give and shop responsibly.
Being a minimalist doesn’t mean you can’t exchange gifts. Go right ahead! But consider the following.
- Trim your holiday budget, and ask others to do the same.
- Instead of gifts, consider asking for friends/family to donate money to a charity.
- If your kids have enough toys, ask if them to choose a new toy for a kid in need, and donate it to an appropriate charity. This is a great way to show them how to help others.
Think needs, not marketing
- Toss the catalogs and ask people what they really want.
- Try not to give clothes. They’re hard to size, and everyone has their own personal preferences. In January, clothing reseller thredUP got a 34% increase in clothes that still had tags on them — basically, gifts people didn’t want. But if you do give clothes, choose a classic style and include a gift receipt.
- Consider giving food items, like a bottle of wine or dessert (if appropriate).
- Consider sustainable gifts from reputable companies.
- Get a gift card so people can buy what they want. Gift cards to restaurants or movie theaters are usually a safe bet.
- Bring a reusable bag to the store.
This year, I did ask for no gifts. I don’t want handbags my cats will tear up, or oversized sweaters. But I said that if people want to give a gift, I would love if they donated to a specific charity.
I’m also tearing apart my closets to clean them out again, so the house looks great when people visit. How did stuff make its way back in there since I last de-cluttered? Who knows.
How are you handling the holidays and minimalism? Leave a comment and let me know.