With all the advertising around the Holidays and the culture of wanting more, you may be wondering how to get your family on board with minimalism this Christmas Season. Below, I’m giving you 5 ways to bring minimalism into your household this Christmas Season, without making your kids miserable in the process. Even my most minimalism-reluctant child came around with a little encouragement and setting of examples. Believe me, it can be done.
1. Get one, give one. Encourage your child to give something away for each new item she gets. If she gets a new bike, she can donate the old one. If he received a new video game, he can sell one he’s grown tired of playing. Even if the item your child gives away is not comparable to the new thing, practicing this principle helps her embody the values of simple living and minimalism.
2. Give gifts that provide experiences instead of material things. One of the gifts I am giving my son this Holiday Season is a 2-session class at a local coding academy. He loves writing code and creating moving objects from it. This is something that gives him a socialization experience and teaches him more about something he enjoys. It also takes up zero room and will never end up in a landfill. You can give your child classes about something she enjoys, electronic vouchers for things like picking the family night movie or going to dinner at her favorite restaurant (create them and email them to her). You could also host a slumber party for her friends and her or go to an arcade for the afternoon. Think about the experiences she enjoys and find ideas around them. This teaches her about the value of moments and experiences.
3. Skip traditional gift-wrap. Save money by using newspapers, paper grocery bags or other items already on hand. Price what you might have spent on gift wrap and donate it to a worthy cause, go see a family movie or save it for a rainy day adventure. I like to use brown grocery bags and decorate them with markers or by hot gluing twine and twigs onto the bag. The kids can help you gather the sticks and color the patterns on the bags. This teaches them to save money and to find ways to use items already in your possession.
4. Do your own family Christmas photos. Send them digitally instead of postal mail. Let the kids get involved in selecting poses and editing the pictures. Make it a family day or night. This teaches them to be resourceful, to be creative and to help protect resources by sending cards in digital form instead of on paper.
5. Thankfulness is not just for Thanksgiving. Make a family gratitude journal and take turns listing things you are thankful for. Little ones can draw what they are thankful for. You could share this every evening in December. Maybe gratitude journal sharing and a Christmas movie every evening at a certain time? Or you could share it daily at dinnertime or any number of ways that work for your family. By focusing on what you have, you create an energy of “having enough” in your environment. This supports you in giving a few meaningful gifts instead of stockpiling plastic “stuff” for the sake of quantity. It teaches your children to be thankful, to be comfortable with having enough and to feel contentment without over-consuming.
Being a minimalist family can be challenging around Christmas, but it is a wonderful opportunity to help your children live the values your family holds dear.
2-Minute Takeaway (Journal Prompt): Create a family mission statement about why you choose minimalism. Let each of your family members contribute a reason if you’d like. Hang it up where you can see it often for a gentle reminder of what matters to your household. To create your mission statement, fill in the rest of the following sentence: We choose minimalism because _________________.