Thinking About a Minimalist Holiday?

minimalist holiday tips


Ahhh. A minimalist holiday. What’s that like? Well, I don’t know Hanukkah or Kwanzaa so I’m going to have to make it Christmas with a little Halloween thrown in for good measure.

I’ve gone uber-minimalist with my holiday celebrations and it’s been completely liberating to do so! Read on to find out how you can switch out from the traditional Christmas treadmill to the minimalist deluxe version featuring no stress, no to-do lists, and a happy season spending time with friends and family.

Best thing about this minimalist holiday action plan is it only includes three steps, and they’re very easy. In fact with these three steps you don’t have to do anything. They’re three non-action steps also commonly referred to as not doing three things. So read on, get busy not doing, and enjoy your stress free minimalist Christmas holiday.

1 Drop the Decorations: Wooo, liberation! I once thought it was an imperative directive of being human to have a Christmas tree, ornaments, twinkle lights, wreathes, and a tree skirt. It was how I was raised. I had me a collection of over-priced hand-blown glass ornaments ($10 a pop) that I added to each year starting from the age of eight. I had me a big, old artificial tree that I stored 11 months of the year. I had me a couple extra tubs just to hold twinkle lights, Christmas decorations for the house (Everything in red of course, down to the dishtowels!), and a pretty velvet tree skirt.

Then I found liberation. In one giant moment of anti-holiday consumer sentiment I donated the whole she-bang. Christmas stuff and light up Halloween pumpkins too. Gone, baby gone. It’s actually not an imperative human directive to store all that Christmas crap! Yay for freedom. Yay for not needing to store it all anymore. Yay for not having to put it all up and take it all down.

Is my life less for this? I don’t think so. I’m quite pleased in fact. If (and I say if, it’s been a few years now since I released it all and I’m not looking back) I ever missed it, I’d hand-make some decorations a la’ old school style (paper decorations people, paper) that could be thrown in the trash afterwards.

Drop the Presents: What is it about this holiday that makes people go rabid? I mean, people actually lose their lives every year during the mad dash for early morning specials. That’s nuts! That’s insane! That’s a nation that’s lost it’s perspective. So, this is the very first year I’m completely dropping gift exchanges. It took a few years to cultivate my fellow humans around me to the idea, I led them to it gently, but now it’s official. My very first year without giving a single gift.

Think me a scrooge? I’ve warned them all, they know they are under no obligation to give me anything either. I’ve even gone so far as to point out the benefits of a giftless Christmas season (avoiding long lines, no stress over choosing the right thing, no stress over spending money, etc.) Besides, my priorities include a smashing good meal with the people I love, reflection on the year gone by, great conversations, and a chilled out walk on the beach after it all. That’s not scroogy at all, that’s sharing myself and my time with people, taking it back to the human element. Love it! Just say no to presents!

Afraid to try it for yourself? Reduce! See what happens. You may amaze yourself.

Drop the Travel: I spent 13 years of my life traveling during the holidays. I can’t think of anything more stressful than that. I don’t do it anymore and haven’t for a few years now. I love a travel-free Christmas. It gives me time to truly enjoy the company of the people I’m around without the stress of hopping on a plane or a car or a car and a plane and yet another plane. There’s always the phone for folks I can’t see and I have long, heartfelt conversations with all of them.

What’s Left?: So I got rid of the decorating aspect of Christmas (and Halloween), the gift sharing aspect of Christmas, and the tiring travel aspect of Christmas. What’s left? Is my holiday barren and empty now that it’s so minimalist?

No way. I’ve left in all the juicy good stuff. There’s waking up on Christmas morning and drinking a big ol’ glass of vegan eggnog (which I happen to love). There’s spending the day cooking up a storm of delish’ food. There’s having people over and eating till we can’t move. There’s lots of smiles and fun and love and laughter and hugs and kisses that go round and round. Then there’s that wonderful walk on the beach (used to be a forest walk before we moved) just before dusk to bask in the splendor of this gorgeous earth we live on. Does that sound empty and sad to you? It doesn’t to me.

Give a minimalist holiday a try. You might get hooked on it. Enjoy the season everyone.


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7 Responses to “Thinking About a Minimalist Holiday?”

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  1. Molly Finn says:

    I started this two years ago. I decorated less and got rid of some. Then I decorated even less. I still decorate a little but I don’t get stressed out by it any more.

    I still do presents. Dropping presents sounds scary. How did you handle that? I mean there are people who will still give you presents. Did you talk to them? Were they mad?

  2. Hi Molly, Thanks for stopping by! I actually wrote a whole post about How to Change Gift Exchanges that answers all of your questions. Check it out!


  3. jenny_smythe says:

    I just got rid of my Christmas decoration with the exception of 2 sets of Christmas lights. And let me tell you – I feel like I’ve lost 100 lbs! Haha! Thanks for the great tips Tanja!!!!

  4. joanna k says:

    I love what this guy did for his minimalist Xmas light display:
    joanna k recently posted..Items 19, 20, and 21: A sleeping bag and two bedrolls

  5. Jennifer G says:

    We are doing our first ever “minimalist” Christmas this year. Well, sort of. I LOVE my Christmas decorations, and I have since I was a child, so I am not willing to let them go. I decorate our living room and hang a couple of Christmas themed pot holders on the wall in the kitchen. Last year I chose not to put out quite as many decorations as the year before, and this year there will be even fewer, as our 2nd child is due at Thanksgiving and I imagine being 8 1/2 months pregnant and putting up Christmas decor will not mix well. We decided a few years ago, along with all of our cousins, that we would only buy gifts for the children in the family. But with 25 kids between our 2 families to buy for, that has been quite stressful. This year, I have cut our Christmas card list down to just very close friends and family…and those kids’ presents? They are going in the form of cash placed in their family’s Christmas card (I’m loving the simplicity of it, so I think that will be our new tradition…and what person doesn’t like getting cash???). With a newborn in the house, there will be no travel, and we’ve been fortunate not to have to travel in recent years, as my mom has been willing to travel to us, and my inlaws are just next door. (Don’t ask…it’s not fun) I do have a few Halloween decorations, but there very few of those. I will probably put out our jack-o-lanterns for my son to enjoy (he’s 5 and is excited about making scarecrows out of the jack-o-lanterns).
    Jennifer G recently posted..The one that got away


  1. [...] 3 Steps to a Minimalist Christmas : My big three tips for how to instantly transform your traditional Christmas into a minimalist one. Not for the faint of heart or middle-of-the-road minimalists! (I get a bit extreme.) [...]

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