Being a minimalist during the holiday season in a society that forces the need for having all the material items is no easy job. How do you make sure the gifts you give are memorable and won’t end up in the regifting pile? Should you give more experiences versus goods? Is it really possible to give less? You’re not alone, mama—38% of Americans feeling an increased level of stress during the holiday season, but don’t fret, there are ways to be less stressed and still be a minimalist giver.
Once you’ve set your intentions, put them into action. Here are five minimalist phrases to ask yourself before purchasing gifts this year:
1. “Does this purchase align with their values?”
If they’ve shared with you that they are trying to be more active or get back into yoga, the last thing you want to do it gift a box of yummy home-baked cookies. While this may make you feel good, it might give them a sense of guilt and hesitation. Think of items that align with their thinking and you won’t go wrong.
2. “What are my favorite products that I want to share with friends?”
What are the simple purchases that have made a significant difference in your life? The holidays are a great way to introduce your friends to your favorite things, like the home goods, beauty products accessories that you love.
3. “Will this purchase support their ideal lifestyle?”
Don’t sabotage your loved one’s goals by adding more useless clutter to their lives. What do they want to achieve in 2020? Ask them what matters most to them and plan accordingly. If the gift is a surprise, think back to moments with them. Are they a planner? Get them a nice calendar. Are they a foodie? Give them a cookbook with recipes of their favorites.
4. “Am prioritizing traditions and experiences?”
Make a spending plan to prioritize what matters most to you. Maybe you live far away and want to spend more time together in the new year. Or you know your niece loves going to concerts. Get creative. Bonus: You might even save money by focusing on experiences instead of physical gifts. Bake cookies, go ice-skating or see holiday light displays.
5. “Does this gift show that I value our connection?”
When gifting, remember it’s the thought that counts. People appreciate when your gift illustrates your connection to them. When you do this well, the price point doesn’t matter. For example, last year I printed photos from old family slides that were collecting dust in the attic. My parents were overjoyed with the gift and it cost less than $15.
Now that you have a minimalist purchase plan, try these tips to minimize your holiday to-do list:
Productivity guru Amanda Jefferson of Indigo Organizing introduced me to the concept of the four D’s and it has truly helped me become more of a stress-free minimalist during the holidays.
First, make a list of all of the things you could, would and should do for the holidays. Everything from sending Christmas cards, making homemade latkes or attending the company holiday party—write it all down.
Now go through the list and ask yourself which items make you feel the most alive. The ones you love doing and can’t wait for each year. Those are the items to keep on your list.
For the rest, apply the four Ds:
1. Delete: Remove anything that drains your energy and doesn’t have to get done.
There, doesn’t that feel good? I deleted sending holiday cards from my list. No more looking for addresses, buying stamps or writing notes—I throw a cocktail party for friends instead.
2. Diminish: Make life simpler.
Perhaps you want to send holiday cards but are overwhelmed by the process. Instead of sending holiday cards with professional photography and perfectly color-coordinated outfits, will candid from your iPhone gallery work just as well? If the matching outfits make you happy, consider buying them secondhand through an app like Mercari, or try organization apps like Awesome Note or CloudMagic to keep your list organized.
3. Defer: Reschedule the task for a later time.
Maybe sending holiday cards is not feasible during the busyness of the season. Consider sending New Year’s or Valentine’s Day cards instead and make a new tradition for your family to enjoy the process of thinking of loved ones and sending notes when you have the time to do so properly.
4. Delegate: Outsource the task to someone else.
Look into services like postable.com that will do the mailing for you. You can also delegate to partners and children (if they’re old enough!). Get everyone involved and spread the emotional labor of making the holidays more joyful.