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How My Family is Having a Minimalist Christmas for the First Time

November 16, 2015

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This year, my family and I will be celebrating a minimalist Christmas. What will this look like? Read on to learn more about my minimalist Christmas!

Y’all need to know something about me (if you don’t already) – I LOVE Christmas! As much as I hate winter, that’s how much I love Christmas. I love spending time with my friends and family, playing games, eating delicious food, celebrating our faith, and of course, giving gifts.

I don’t mind getting gifts but what I really love is giving gifts. I love to see people’s reactions when they unwrap their presents and I love making them feel happy and special with what I am able to give them.

I do my best to give gifts that make the receiver feel special and loved. I try to make them as personal as possible too so that they know I was thinking specifically of them when I bought or made the gift.

As much as I love Christmas and giving gifts, it can get expensive really quickly if you aren’t careful about your gift-giving budget. Although I didn’t set a specific budget for gifts this year, I’m trying to keep it under control as much as possible.

One way that I’m limiting my gift-giving budget is embracing more of a minimalistic approach to Christmas gifts. This is something that my whole (immediate) family has agreed to adopt for the first time this year.

In past years, my immediate family – my dad, my mom, my brother and I – would meet at my parents’ house for breakfast and then would begin opening gifts from under the Christmas tree.

We always take turns going one at a time so we can ooh and aah over each person’s gift before the next person’s turn. While this did drag out our gift exchange, making it quite a bit longer than it would have to be, it also served as entertainment for us too.

Then in the past few years, I noticed that we were getting so many gifts at Christmas that we weren’t really using them, appreciating them, or even remembering all of them.

With that in mind, I asked my family if they’d be okay with having a different kind of Christmas this year. Instead of going crazy with gifts for each other, we are going to take a more minimalist approach:

We are giving only 1 gift per person.

This means that each of the four of us will receive 3 gifts in total – one from each of the other family members. Hopefully this will make us more appreciative of the gifts we receive this year.

In addition, we discussed the other benefits of having a more minimalist Christmas, like:

  • Saving money
  • Cutting down on less desirable/clutter gifts
  • Using less wrapping paper
  • Saving time shopping, wrapping, and unwrapping gifts

Also, now that my brother and I are both adults, we don’t necessarily need our parents to gift us everything we need during Christmas and birthdays. We can buy most of the things we want and need on our own now.

My family didn’t set a spending limit on the gifts. Instead we decided to stick to a “reasonable” price range.

Hopefully this minimalist Christmas is a new tradition that will be around for years to come. I think it’s going to be a great change to our typical Christmas.

Does your family have gift or spending limits? Is your Christmas minimalistic or over-the-top?

This year, my family and I will be celebrating a minimalist Christmas. What will this look like? Read on to learn more about my minimalist Christmas!

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18 responses to “How My Family is Having a Minimalist Christmas for the First Time

  1. We’re scaling back, though it gets harder to drop back to a reasonable level on one gift per person once you start adding spouses and kids in the mix. That’s why my brothers and I have just said we’ll skip each other this year and just go with funny cards.

    1. That’s a great point! If you have a large family, one gift/person might not be scaling it back much at all. In that case, maybe you could do one gift/couple for adults and one gift/person for kids or those who aren’t married? In my extended family we’ve just done a gift exchange game and limited the gifts to $10 or so.

  2. I know this is a huge win for you, Kayla. It’s great that you were able to get your family onboard when I know in the past – they might have been less enthusiastic or confused about cutting back. I love Christmas and giving gifts too. Like you mentioned, these days it is easy to go overboard, which makes gifts become less precious. We try to keep this in mind so that girls truly feel blessed and grateful for the gifts versus expecting them.

    1. You are absolutely right Shannon! I’m glad I was able to get them to agree to cut back too. We’ll see how it turns out. πŸ™‚

  3. This is great. I love the idea of a minimalist Christmas, and am trying to put it to practice with our family, but it is difficult when everyone is at a different stage of their life and there is such a variety of people in our immediate and extended families. Values are all different.

    1. I totally get what you mean. I think I was able to put this into practice with my family’s blessing pretty easily because there are only 4 of us that have to agree to this practice. If it were with my extended family it would be harder.

  4. I love this! Christmas spending (and gift-giving) can get out of control SO FAST, haha. Like you, I love giving gifts so it can be hard to reign myself in sometimes. This year, my main struggle has been the number of people I need to buy for, not necessarily the price tag. I’m spending Christmas with my in-laws who have a huge extended family and am then seeing my own immediate family right after the new year. Even though I’ve aimed to spend about $10-$20 per person, it adds up!

    1. I totally agree! I had a big list for gift-giving full of friends and extended family beyond just my immediate family. I had to trim it down a bit and I’m probably going to have to get kind of creative in order to keep my spending down.

    1. I will definitely do that! I’m really hoping that this will free up more time for board and card games. I love to play games and my family is very competitive. πŸ™‚

  5. I’m a huge Christmas fan too. And I’m with you 100% – I love finding the perfect gift for loved ones. It’s something I actually pride myself on being able to do and always want the gift to have meaning. As a family, we’ve cut back too, because like you said, adults don’t need much. But we still like to give the younger kids a few presents because it is so much fun to watch them tear into presents. Last year I gave my parents and grandparents a homemade gift that they seemed to enjoy a lot more than the expensive presents I gave t hem in the past. I’m not sure what to make this year to top it!

    1. I love having gifts with meaning and trying to find the “perfect gift” is something I enjoy quite a bit. πŸ™‚ I hope you come up with something great!

  6. This is an interesting question. My husband and I buy gifts for each other and our 7th grade son and our parents but that’s it. We have a small family and we told his two sisters when we got married that we didn’t want to exchange gifts.
    We don’t go crazy with gifts but because we don’t use credit cards and pay cash for everything, I have this feeling of being virtuous. So I’ m sure we’re probably spending more than we really need to.

    But, I read the Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up over the summer and that has shifted my perspective, and my buying habits, quite a bit.

    1. It sounds like you guys already have a pretty minimalist attitude when it comes to buying gifts. This year I’m excited to see how much less wrapping paper we waste, how much less time we use unwrapping gifts, and how much more happy (I think) we’ll be with the way our Christmas works out.

  7. This will be our last Christmas in England (YAY!) and this year we have decided to do absolutely ZERO gifts! We have attempted to establish no gift policies with our families. However neither of our parents listen. We typically get a care package type of gift with our favorite American Christmas candy and what not.

    When we do live state side. We typically draw names or couples and then the 4 grandchildren get a gift from each couple on my in-laws side (usually a $20-$25 limit). We usually get something a little more expensive for my husband’s parents by having everybody chip in on the gift. On my side we also typically draw couples names and then each get a gift for my mo m and dad. My parents are the ones who still continue to go overboard. My mom is definitely a gift giver and I’m not sure if we could ever convince her otherwise lol.

    I’m hoping in 2016 we can convince our extended family to go on a family vacation and skip gifts. We’ll see if it works! πŸ™‚

    1. Oh a family vacay sounds like a great way to celebrate instead of doing gifts. πŸ™‚ I hope you have good luck convincing them of that too. πŸ™‚

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