MINIMALISM & CHRISTMAS: 5 TIPS TO INCORPORATE MINIMALISM THIS HOLIDAY SEASON

minimalism and Christmas

Minimalism and Christmas may not seem like they belong in the same sentence, but I believe they do. The holidays are stressful enough. Why do we make them even more expensive? You don’t get much more minimal than the first Christmas if you think about it. Save yourself some time, stress, and money with my five tips to keep it minimal this holiday season.

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Minimalism & Christmas: Opt for Experiences instead of Items as Gifts

When it comes to gifts, experiences are a wonderful idea! Instead of giving stuff that may go unused in a closet (or just donated if you’re like me) or put a lot of strain on the budget. Avoid all that and give the gift of an experience; this can still be just as if not more thoughtful than a store-bought gift.

Examples of experiences include a gift certificate to a favorite activity such as an indoor sports place (TopGolf, ax throwing) for a more active individual, skating rink or indoor trampoline park for kids, or a certificate for mini-golf or bowling for the entire family. Just keep the recipient in mind. Know someone with a creative flair? What about a gift certificate to paint their own pottery?

Keep the Calendar as Simple as Possible

When (if) the party invitations come rolling in don’t feel the need to RSVP yes to all of them. If the holiday season typically includes a lot of social invitations have a family meeting prior to the deluge of mail and agree upon a set number of social events to attend or discuss which annual gatherings are the highest priority.

Keeping the calendar as clear as possible will save a lot of time, stress, and might even reduce your potential exposure to a few winter bugs. It’s cold and flu season folks and you never know who’s been sick or is coming down with something at large gatherings. Be sure to bring some hand sanitizer.

It’s also worth noting that it is not very minimalist to buy a new outfit for every function you plan to attend; if you have room in the budget for one fancy outfit to wear and most social events you plan to attend include different social circles then guess what? That same outfit will be “new” for all events. Even if you’re seen in the same dress at more than one event does it really matter?

Minimalism & Christmas: Opt for Couple or Family Gifts Instead of Gifts for Each Individual

This is something we’ve chosen to do on my husband’s side of the family and it just makes life easier. There are a lot of kids on his side and they all have a lot of stuff already. Thankfully, nobody truly needs much of anything, and most of us have made efforts to pare down our possessions so adding a lot for everyone in the house seems counterintuitive at this point.

We’ve also all pretty much asked each other exactly what they want or need or if something from a general category would be alright. It helps a lot. Our Christmas savings account check was cut this week and I’m just patiently waiting for it to show up in our mailbox so I can start checking items off our list. Our gift shopping list is about 75% done at this point. I will tally the approximate total against our budget (the amount of the check) once I have it in hand and make adjustments where necessary. Our total Christmas budget this year is $500. I have added about $30 from the monthly budget to round this number out. The goal is obviously to come in under budget. This may feel like a lot to us, but it is below the average of $727.90-$730.70 National Retail Federation predicts American households will spend this year.

See: NRF Forecasts Holiday Sales Will Grow Between 3.8 and 4.2 Percent

minimalism and Christmas

Or Draw Names for a Gift Exchange

In the years past we did this with my dad’s family as it is quite large and it was always so fun; different family members live in different states, so it was always exciting to see something picked out for you that wasn’t necessarily from a store we have here in Northwest Arkansas. Granted, this area has grown significantly, but I remember when it was quite exciting to get gifts in boxes from stores I’d never been to!

This can obviously save a lot of money in larger families but admittedly isn’t for everyone. We considered it last year for my family, but we’re not really big enough. It’s not quite as fun when the odds are high you’ll be drawing the name of someone in your house.

Also with gift exchanges, this is something that the family needs to agree on fairly early as some people like to get shopping done early to save themselves some stress. I actually prevented a gift exchange from happening a few years ago because I had taken on a rather large handmade gift project and started it well in advance of Christmas.

Minimalism & Christmas: Keep it Simple with the Kids

As in years past, we plan to keep it pretty simple with our kids this year. Last year was the first my daughter could read. It was also the first year we forgot to label anything as specifically from Santa. She was so caught up in the excitement she didn’t notice!

We typically buy the kids a few things they need (this usually means there will be socks and underwear in stockings), an experience or larger want (by large I mean around $75- they’re still little and we operate on a budget), and a few smaller things. I will probably opt to skip on the few smaller things this year just because stuff for the sake of stuff isn’t very minimalist.

This year their large gifts are mostly things they need or have wanted for a while; my daughter is a boot girl and she finally outgrew the cowgirl boots we bought her two years ago for Christmas. When it comes to boots we buy quality ones from Cavender’s; they always hold up better and fit longer than tennis shoes or dress shoes. For our son, we will buy a plan rug for his bedroom floor with roads and such. He loves to play cars on the rugs around the house. I can’t say I blame him; tile is cold to sit on!

Related: You can find all Christmas posts published on a Life on a Dime by searching the Christmas category!

minimalism and Christmas

What About You?

Do you plan to incorporate minimalism into your family’s Christmas this year? Do you already keep it pretty simple for the holidays? This is how my family continues to use minimalism and Christmas is much less stressful (and expensive) as a result.

This post was proofread by Grammarly

3 UNEXPECTED BENEFITS OF MINIMALISM: MY EXPERIENCE

benefits of minimalism

I decided to go minimalist thinking it was about getting rid of stuff. I leaned that direction for some time, not going overboard with baby stuff or toys after we had our first child, but after the death of my mother, who was a packrat, and you might even say an organized hoarder (is that a thing?). Once I decided to take an even more minimalist approach in my life. I felt overwhelmed by all the stuff in general and wanted less of it in my life. I had no idea there would be numerous unexpected benefits of minimalism.

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Benefits of Minimalism: Saying No Got Easier

I had a hard time saying such a simple word. It wasn’t just with bringing things into my home, I took on tasks I didn’t have time for, it was doing things that didn’t necessarily fit in the budget, putting up with stuff I didn’t have the emotional energy for, sometimes even putting up with people I didn’t have the emotional energy to be around.

I’d ignore a problem as long as possible (an inherited trait apparently) or would double my efforts and try to do more than I should in an effort to prove someone was right to put their faith in me. All because I did not want to let anyone down when it was plain for everyone to see that the expectation could not possibly be met. I exhausted myself and I let myself down.

Once I started purging I analyzed why I held on to things that had little meaning and no purpose. It became very clear that the only way to prevent more things that had little meaning or purpose in my life was to say no to them.

I suffered postpartum depression and crippling indecision after our first child. Walking around treating yourself like a doormat encourages others to do the same. It took a while to figure it out, but once I recognized what was happening I got help. I got better and was able to stop the meds, but anxiety has plagued my adult years. Again, it appears I inherited this trait.

I’ve said no to things recently due to anxiety because I knew I couldn’t handle it. I don’t know that pre-minimalism I’d have recognized the problem and chosen to make a decision for me rather than based on what I felt was expected of me; I feel much more proactive when it comes to my wellbeing.

The Urge to Shop Less Often

I grew up learning to appreciate the joys of bargain hunting and the value of a good deal. Pre-minimalism I spent entire lunch hours scouring stores looking for something I didn’t think we could live without. The better the deal the more you can buy, right?

I shudder to think how many of those good deals were hauled to donation centers in the last few years. In the last two years, I have really only frequented Target for baby supplies. Up and up was my favorite brand for diapers, wipes, and formula. I’d stock up once a month and get the$25 gift card for spending $100 (which I usually used the SAME trip). Something else always managed to find its way in the cart by the time I made it to the checkout.

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When we moved a little farther out and I no longer worked I stocked up with online or drive up orders once we no longer used baby food and didn’t meet the free shipping minimum. A funny thing happened – I didn’t miss those Target runs! Lately, if I can’t get it at the grocery store or on Amazon, it’ll take me a good long while before I decide to venture out for it.

I’ve been to Hobby Lobby a grand total of once in the last six months, possibly all year. I spent less than $4 and used the 40% off coupon! We only went in because I couldn’t justify shipping for a $4 stencil that was a 20-minute drive away. My two-year-old kept reminding me why minimalism probably isn’t the only reason I dread shopping these days. We walked out with the item we came for and then headed to the donation dropoff to unload a few boxes.

benefits of minimalism

Benefits of Minimalism: Focus on Quality over Quantity and More Thoughtful Purchases

With this newfound aversion for shopping, it should come as no surprise that I spend less money on frivolous things since embracing minimalism. My purchases tend to be more researched, and when I click the checkout button in my Amazon cart, I’ve found the best value for my budget.

If the value I want isn’t in my budget I DON’T BUY ANYTHING. I also tend to leave items on my wish list for a long time. I go back through every once in a while and delete items I no longer want. In the past, these items would’ve been shipped to my front door, and later made their way into the donation box without much thought.

This is a major shift in perspective; I can’ tell you how many times I walked out of a store with a shopping bag of consolation items. They didn’t have exactly what I wanted, but I bought something else that didn’t really fit the bill to lessen my disappointment in not finding what I wanted.

I’d rather buy fewer items less often and buy quality items. As I said earlier in the week, frugal isn’t cheap. I’m not going for cheap anymore. Lesson learned. Since transitioning to a single income (with no car or student loan, and typically no credit card debt) we’ve actually become better savers. We were always good at saving and cash flowing projects, but just saving to have money in savings? Not so much.

I had no idea when I first started on this journey that the benefits of minimalism would go so far beyond having less stuff. My whole perspective on life has changed since embracing minimalism. I can without a doubt say it has changed my life for the better mentally, emotionally, and financially.

10 THINGS MINIMALISTS DON’T WASTE MONEY ON

… and you shouldn’t either

Becoming a minimalist makes life so much simpler; this can have a substantial effect on your budget too! As a minimalist, I don’t waste money on things I never gave a second thought about before starting my minimalist journey. I knew at the start becoming a minimalist would make my home more peaceful, but I had no idea it would actually help me keep more money in the bank!

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So what are some items minimalists don’t waste money on? I’m glad you asked! Here is my list of the top 10 items I quit wasting my money on after becoming a minimalist. Even if you don’t fully embrace the idea of minimalism you can still save yourself some money and give your budget a little more breathing room if you quit buying some of these items as well.

1. Minimalists Don’t Waste Money on a Lot of One Time Use Products

It just makes no sense to store 50 rolls of paper towels and keep throwing all that money in the trash! Literally! I never really thought about how much money we spent on paper towels, but I realized how quickly we went through a roll. The trash also filled up faster when we used paper towels. Not so long ago we were each using a half size paper towel at every meal AND I was cleaning the kitchen countertops with them as well as spot cleaning the rugs. That’s a lot of trash!

If you remember from 3 Weird Ways to Save Money we don’t pay for trash service. Eliminating the additional paper waste by simply using the abundance of tea towels and our set of previously almost never used cloth napkins we also saved some money by going through fewer trash bags. This is both a frugal and sustainable win!

2. A Different Cleaner for Every Application

Up until the beginning of this year, I bought hand soap, dishwashing soap for handwashing, kitchen countertop cleaner, bathroom cleaner, toilet bowl cleaner, furniture polish, glass cleaner, dishwasher detergent pods, and carpet stain remover. Prior to owning a steam mop, there were also the disposable dry dusting and wet mopping floor pads.

That’s a lot of cleaning product under the kitchen sink! And the bathroom sink. And the hall closet… it felt like we had cleaning products everywhere! All that cleaner didn’t just take up a lot of real state in the house; it also took up a considerable amount of real estate in the budget!

Now I find all I really need to handle most household cleaning is Thieves Household Cleaner, unscented Castile soap, baking soda, and lemon and Thieves essential oils. I mix a capful or two of the household cleaner in a spray bottle and use it to clean the kitchen countertops, stainless steel appliances, bathroom counters, mirrors, and to spot clean the rugs.

I mix a capful with some baking soda and lemon oil to make the kitchen sink and showers sparkly white. A combination of the household cleaner, water, and castile soap does a great job hand washing dishes. It also doubles as our hand soap in the kitchen. I currently use the Thieves dishwasher powder but am curious to DIY some pods and see how they do. The fewer things I buy the better! And to think I used to believe I needed nine different cleaning products to accomplish the same tasks!

3. Don’t Waste Money on Multiple or One Trick Pony Kitchen Gadgets & Utensils

I have a healthy collection of wooden spoons, a few scrapers, and spatulas, but nothing overwhelming. In the past this was not so; I pared things down considerably before we moved, but when unpacking still found three ground meat mashers (three!) and other multiples I quickly realized I didn’t even use! I googled the meat masher and Pampered Chef charges $15 for them! And I had three! I usually grab a wooden spoon when cooking ground meat.

As far as appliances go we have a microwave, single-serve coffee maker, blender, sandwich maker, and pressure cooker. The sandwich maker gets the most use in the fall and winter, but it was a wedding gift and 13 years later it is still going strong.

A pressure cooker is an awesome addition to the kitchen! We can cook a tenderloin in 40 minutes or less, can soup salsa, or veggies from the garden (when we have one), and slow cook soups or other “crockpot” recipes all day in the same appliance.

If it only serves one purpose or isn’t used often it doesn’t stick around long at our house. It is much easier to clean a kitchen with fewer appliances cluttering the countertops. Laptops are excluded from this statement; I work at the counter!

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4. Lots & Lots of Toys

At our old house, we only had one child when the living room became overrun with her stuff. We resigned ourselves to the fact that this would always be the case. Not so much anymore.

You see, the more toys kids have, the more they think they need. There is also an interesting situation that arises when there are so many toys to play with that the kid feels overwhelmed in trying to make a choice and plays with none of them! We had toys everywhere and yet someone was always bored and wanted something new to play with.

We put a lot of thought into toys we bring into our house now, and we focus on experiences more than things. This mama routinely goes through the kids’ rooms reorganizing, tossing or repairing broken toys, and taking outgrown or unwanted toys to the resale shop or donation center. The best part is that my daughter rarely notices something is missing!

We are also lucky to have friends and family who respect our minimalist wishes and buy our kids gifts of experience rather than unsolicited toys. This helps a lot!

5. Don’t Waste Money on Magazine Subscriptions

Apart from the fact that you can sip on your Starbucks at Barnes and Noble and read all the magazines you want, who wants all that cluttering their mailbox? If you read it and find value in what you read that is great.

I am all about educational literature, but I found decorating magazines and even family-centric subscriptions either made me feel dissatisfied with what I already had or didn’t really align with my personal values. All too often these magazines would set in a stack on the countertop, occasionally get carried off by kids or ripped up, and I would inevitably toss it in the recycling bin without reading the majority of it.

6. Monthly Subscription Boxes

I know these are all the rage and a potential source of income as a blogger, but I do not see the appeal. You spend $50 or more every quarter (or more) for a box of assorted stuff to show up at your door. Yes, it’s expensive stuff and you get it at a supposed discount, but do you really use most of it? Or do you buy it because your favorite Influencer unboxed hers on Instagram stories and it looked so fun? And she gave you a discount! That’s exactly what they want you to think. That $200 or more a year could be put to much better use paying off debt or building up an emergency fund. Better yet, if that’s all taken care of you can invest that $200! Yes, I’m boring. But I’m also right.

7. Don’t Waste Money on Over the Top Seasonal Decor

Now I decorate for Christmas and the kids decorate pumpkins in the fall, but that’s about as far as it goes. In the past, I would head to Hobby Lobby every time the season changed so you would know what season it was by seeing what was on display. I had a pretty candy dish to display on our ottoman tray every season. Some of these are currently packed away in the attic.

I have a beautiful glass decorative glass plate I will display for fall, but the majority of things I used to put out either have to be kept out of the reach of small hands or I simply no longer have the shelf space to display them. This doesn’t bother me. I’ve been hesitant to put up some really nice shelves in the new house because I do not want to fill them with clutter.

8. Duplicates or Bulk Items

While it can be nice to know you have a backup of something, minimalists don’t buy duplicates of things or a lot of items in bulk if they can easily be reordered or picked up at the store any time. I see no need to store or buy in multiples when an item is readily available.

This applies to toiletries, personal care items, even baby stuff. I only buy one case of training pants at a time; the store is 15 minutes away. In three weeks when we’re running low I’ll buy more. No need to take up valuable closet real estate. And not that many of us actually need to buy $50 worth of toilet paper at the big box store. You’re not saving as much money as you think to buy a lot of items in bulk. It makes sense for larger families, but not everyone.

9. Don’t Waste Money on Trendy Fast Fashion

Chances are most minimalists you know aren’t chasing the latest fashion trends. There is more than one good reason for that; apart from the ethical implications of fast fashion, there is the appeal of a smaller or capsule wardrobe of more timeless, quality pieces. I have fewer shoes now than ever before in my life and they’re much better quality now too. If I buy something new chances are three or four years from now it will still be in my closet getting regular use.

10. Impulse Purchases

Most minimalists don’t make impulse purchases; we study, research, and discuss what we plan to buy to make sure we not only get a good deal but buy what we truly need. Make it a point not to buy much at all while in the process of decluttering. If you decide to do some minimizing or decluttering around our house make a point to go on a spending freeze during the duration of the process. Implement a no-spend challenge or join one on social media for motivation.

What don’t you waste money on now that you have discovered minimalism and/or budgeting? What do you have a hard time giving up? I’d love to hear from you!

WHAT MINIMALISM MEANS TO ME

To me, minimalism means less is more:

Less stress

I am no longer stressed out by my stuff. This hasn’t always been true. I’ve spent a good part of my adult life stressed out by stuff. Read my previous post, Beginnings of a More Minimalist Approach for more on that. This includes stressing about what I didn’t have; when I learned to let go of the excess I did have I also learned to let go of the things I thought I had to have.

Today minimalism means I no longer worry and stress about how or when I can buy what I want. I just no longer want most of it. This is a very freeing feeling. When it comes to most wants I can either take it or leave it. It no longer factors into my happiness. A major win here!

Less is more… time

Once I had fewer things to maintain, it meant dusting and cleaning, in general, took up a lot less of my time. Most of what is out is in use. Now that the kids have fewer toys they play with just about EVERYTHING they have! What they don’t play with or age out of promptly goes to the donate box or bag and out of the house.

I can see what I have/find what I need when I open a drawer or cabinet. If I don’t see it I probably don’t have it. The fact that I don’t have it probably doesn’t bother me now. In the past, it oftentimes would.

Less is more of what matters

Now we live in a 1320 square foot house. It is smaller than average maybe, but certainly not tiny and it feels just right for us. I still have a few things to pare down; this is not a one and done approach where you go through one purge and everything is perfectly minimal from there on out. Life changes, kids grow, and priorities get reevaluated. I am able to focus on the people in my house instead of the things. That’s just as it should be.

less is more