I had intended on writing a post much like Kathy’s over at http://smartliving365.com/10-simple-ways-create-happy-minimalist-holiday/,but since she covered pretty much all that I was going to write about, I thought I’d leave it to her and do something a tad different. So here we go…
Since embarking on my simple living journey over twenty years ago I have strived to enjoy the holidays surrounded solely by good feelings, warm embraces and plenty of intentional gratitude (and egg-nog).
Over the years – as you might have guessed – I have walked away from the consumer aspect of the holidays in an attempt to reclaim a deeper sense of Christmas, one that doesn’t revolve around the ongoing clatter of cash registers and credit card debt.
Now, to be honest, in the early days I just couldn’t afford to buy friends and family gifts and told them so. Turns out, it didn’t matter if I bought gifts or not, what mattered was that they were my friends and family, nothing more, nothing less. A Christmas visit to my sister’s home, a spontaneous long afternoon chat over tea and coffee at a small local café, a home cooked meal with a friend’s family, those were the gifts that meant the most (and still do). Time spent together celebrating the spirit of the holidays rather than what Madison Avenue would have us do!
That being said, if there’s one huge piece of advice I could impart on you all, it would be this: STAY OUT OF THE MALLS!! If you truly need to buy gifts for those you love, then look inward. Is there something you can make them from hand or from scratch? Each year I get a huge Tupperware container filled with home-made chocolate chip cookies from a friend’s children. It is the most delicious gift one could ask for and knowing that they took the time to bake such a treat for me is truly awesome!
On the flip side, I look to see what personal gifts I can offer my friends and family in the form of computer help, guitar lessons, baby-sitting and whatever else I have within myself to offer. One year I made some artistic creations using Photoshop which turned into a much asked for gift for a cousin. I simply put it in a nice frame that I bought at a dollar store and he was one happy camper.
Now, this is not to say that I don’t give any commercial gifts at all. I do have a couple of friends who I buy for when I can, but for the most part, it’s personal services all the way. Although, when it comes to my friend’s children, I usually get them gift certificates to a local coffee shop. This makes them feel great as they can feel a little “grown up” ordering a hot chocolate and biscuit with their friends and/or siblings. I also give my son some Christmas cash so he and his girlfriend can enjoy a dinner and movie after the holidays. I’ve heard it’s greatly appreciated
I also love participating in simple holiday traditions that make the spirit of Christmas even stronger like spending an evening with a few friends watching The Grinch Who Stole Christmas or putting up Christmas decorations while listening to holiday tunes and drinking egg-nog (which I did last night)*. On a more giving note, I have a friend whose family volunteers at homeless missions and meals on wheels, as a way to give back. What a beautiful way to truly spread Christmas joy amongst those who may otherwise be forgotten during the hustle and bustle of the holidays.
I realize that these gift ideas may not be something that you’re able, or willing to do, and that’s fine. We all have our own way of getting through the holidays and if that means you need to buy actual, physical gifts for your loved ones, then that is cool as well. Just remember to buy with intention rather than impulse or pressure. And if at all possible, see if you can shop locally before you head out to the big box stores. Not only will you be supporting your local economy, but you may just be providing a better Christmas for the store owners and their families Also, don’t forget the thrift shops in your neck of the woods. You might be surprised at how much softly used clothes and toys you can buy for very little money.
As I wrap this up, let me state once again that I do not judge those who spend a little or lot on the commercialization of Christmas, and in fact, I realize that it is way easier to simply pick up something at Wal-Mart than it is to intentionally figure out what your friends or family truly need in their lives. But, if you can pare down a little this holiday season, and embrace what truly matters: love, kindness and togetherness, I think you’ll find the spirit of giving of yourself is much more fulfilling than rushing through the mall looking for a hastily last minute gift.
So…how do you spend the holidays?
Do you have any skills that you can use to create or offer as gifts?
I would love to hear your thoughts on this subject so please keep this conversation going by adding a comment below.
Take care and all the best.
* Thanks to me friend Jen, I now have a festive looking living room And just for the record, everything you see has either been given to me, bought at a thrift shop or found in the magic garbage room (more on that in another post). All the Christmas decorations you see – with the exception of Saint Nick which was given to me by my cousin, and my small tree which was bought a few years ago at a dollar store – were found in the garbage room a few weeks ago looking like new. How cool is that!?by