Creating a Life Free From Chaos

What Do You Do at Christmas if You’re a Minimalist

This is a guest post from Nicole Akers.What Do You Do at Christmas if You’re a Minimalist by Nicole AkersMinimalism. It’s an interesting word because you probably have strong feelings about it. Is it weird? Who wants less stuff? Maybe you embrace it because you live with less stuff and find it exhilarating. At either end of the spectrum, or somewhere in between, what do you do with minimalism at Christmas?

Christmas is a time when many give gifts. Lots of gifts. Parents and grandparents shower kids with stuff. Much of it gets stuffed in the corner of a closet or buried and never sees the light of day. The boxes and bows are appreciated more than the stuff inside them. Since you’re reading, I’m asking you this rhetorical question: Who just downsized rooms and closets in preparation for the holiday onslaught of gifts? It’s okay to raise your hand or nod your head in the affirmative. No one can see you. It’s our secret.

Here’s another question: Do you really want to keep repeating these same steps year after year?

If you’re ready to do something different maybe it’s time to be weird. “Weird.” That’s what our family calls us. Many friends too. Most of the time it’s okay, but sometimes it hurts. They called us weird when we sold our house earlier this year and moved to a 997 square-foot apartment. I’ve only written about the experience in guest posts, so it’s fitting I continue this trend. The background of how we began the experience is right here. And, I’ve described how we continue to be weird here. So glad Sandy is minimalistically weird, like me. 😉

Saying goodbye to stuff-minimalism

This year, as we pull out the Christmas decorations, everything feels different. We’re touching and using things we’ll never see or use again. It’s eerie and freeing at the same time. As we decorate the Christmas tree, we don’t have to be as careful with the glass ornaments. It doesn’t matter if our youngest hangs 12 plastic icicles crowded on four branches. We don’t have to obsess about the details. Nothing has to be perfect. It just gets to be enjoyed. We can move about and enjoy items in ways that we never have before. It’s nothing like Sandy’s house fire. The huge blessing and difference is that we get to enjoy using them one last time as we say good-bye.

We’re preparing for an adventure. We’re going somewhere, and it’s going to be a beautiful journey. When Mommy, Daddy, K, and C travel to the other side of the globe, or the other side of the Christmas tree it looks something like this.

What Do You Do at Christmas if You’re a Minimalist by Nicole Akers

I remember making those ornaments with the girls. We mixed the dough, cut “cookies”, and decorated them over the course of 3-4 days. Our Christmas tree is filled with them. Feel free to borrow our recipe if you want some too:

  • 3 cups applesauce
  • 3 cups ground cinnamon

Stir together until nice and firm. Roll out like dough and break out the cookie cutters, but don’t bake them. Make a hole with a toothpick or nail. Make the hole bigger than you think it needs to be because it will shrink as it dries. Let them air dry completely before decorating.

We used ribbon, puffy paint, glue, and glitter to make ours festive. It’s a great minimalistic way to decorate a Christmas tree. Now the tree is decorated, and we’re wondering what should go under it.

What do minimalists put under the Christmas tree?

“Maybe Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more, than packages and stuff that comes from a store.” ~The Grinch

Does that sound “Grinchy”?

For us this year Christmas might look like backpacks and hiking boots because of where we’re going. What might it look like for you?

Something you want

Everyone has wants. If you’re minimalistic and have young children this can be a challenge. Zero in on something the receiver wants. Kids have an endless list of wants. Pick one and fulfill it. My girls love jewelry. The 6-year-old wants “real jewelry” — the kind that isn’t a plastic toy ring or princess jewelry. She wants the kind her older sister wears. The oldest is a tween and she enjoys chokers and earrings. We stumbled upon a clearance rack at a department store on Black Friday and made a killing on jewelry that doesn’t break the wallet. At $2-$3 a piece, we found plenty to stuff their stocking. These items also already have a place in our tiny apartment and don’t take up much space.

Something you need

Most people “need” something. Maybe it’s a kitchen appliance, a pocketknife, or a car repair. Pick something you are certain the receiver needs. Have a conversation to determine needs. The last thing a minimalist needs is something he or she doesn’t need.

The last thing a minimalist needs is something he or she doesn’t need. ~ @TheNicoleAkers Click To Tweet

Maybe it’s a gift card, restaurant gift certificate, or a check. Everyone needs savings for a rainy day. One day kids will want to buy a car, and wouldn’t it be great if they could buy a car without debt? Talk about changing a family tree! We’re extra weird with money. If Grandma really wants to buy the kids a gift maybe it’s time to change her thinking. Saving for the future is a gift you need.

Something to wear

It is Christmas, after all. My oldest likes clothes, but she has more than she needs. She needs shoes, especially if she’s outgrowing the ones she has. It’s okay to splurge a little. Maybe a new coat is in order. This is a place where wants and needs can blur a little, if so desired.

Something to read

All great minds need books. Luckily both my girls love to read. If you’re not a reader it might be time to give it a try. One book a year won’t kill you. It can be a cookbook, or about professional or personal development.

“When I get a little money, I buy books. If any is left, I buy food and clothes”. ~Erasmus

“There is no friend as loyal as a good book”. ~Ernest Hemingway

“I am simply a ‘book drunkard.’ Books have the same irresistible temptation for me that liquor has for its devotee. I cannot withstand them.” ~ L.M. Montgomery

I love her Anne of Green Gables series.

Great minds read books.

Plan an experience

If none of that fits quite right, then plan an experience. Take a small trip. Maybe drive to the beach, visit a museum. Scrap the gifts and go somewhere you’ve always wanted to go. If you have kids who still believe in Santa, I’m positive he’ll find you with a special surprise that won’t leave you wondering how you’ll get it home.

How will you enjoy the holidays more minimalistically this year? Please tell us in the comments. It’s even okay to call me weird too. I’m used to it. ;-).

What Do You Do at Christmas if You’re a Minimalist by Nicole AkersNicole is founder of and spends her time helping writers grow their audiences through crowdsourcing readership. She’s also a health advocate at WeTalkHealthy who helps you tip the scales in your favor through healthier living. You can connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

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13 Replies

  1. Howdy, Partner! Can you tell I live in Texas? I can’t thank Sandy enough for the opportunity to guest post. Don’t forget to visit and so we can connect. See you there!

    1. These are great tips! Thank you for sharing!

      1. Hi Dawn! Thanks for reading. Glad these tips are helpful.

  2. Love this post packed full of helpful and wise suggestions! When my girls were small people used to buy so much stuff for them at Christmas and birthdays. I’d be left wondering what to do with it all!

    I would also bring home things I just didn’t need. Later finding myself tossing and donating. After downsizing the areas I use in my home I got smarter! Now I love being a weird minimalist! My weakness though is that I love books and have tons of them!

    1. Hi Cori! Thanks for reading! It is easy to let the holidays lead us to more consumerism than necessary.

      Too many times I’ve found myself at Goodwill donating things we didn’t need and more often donating things others gifted us.

      I love books too. We’ve made great friends with our local librarians. They know us, our reading preferences, and even put books on hold for us that meet our likenesses. It’s great to have good friends.

  3. When we moved into our new home, we purged big time. Sure, we have twice as much space. We just choose not to fill it.

    Great post, Nicole!

    1. Hi Frank! Thanks for stopping by. You’re preaching to the choir. When one experiences this freedom, it’s tough to refuse it.

  4. I really want to do this! It may be too late this year, but I am in the process of decluttering. Hopefully, I can adopt this way of living because I know less clutter= less stress!

    1. Hi Valerie! Couldn’t have said it better myself. Less clutter = less stress. Preach it, Sister! Join the revolution!

  5. Raises hand Yep I did just that. Though I will say we have downsized Christmas and other holidays considerably. I love the idea of an experience. I also know my youngest who still lives at home would love it too! Thank you for the cinnamon dough recipe I plan to make use of it.

  6. Mrs. G, I’m proud of you for admitting publicly to downsizing right before the holidays. Maybe others will be brave enough to join you in the admission.

    Glad the cinnamon dough recipe sounds like fun for you. We had a great time with it. You might add more cinnamon than required. The key is to make the dough firm. We had so much fun making and decorating them. I hope you enjoy the craft. Do let us know how they turn out for you.

  7. We are going for the “experience” route this year and spending Christmas petsitting for a family in Germany. It will be different for sure, and maybe even magical!

    1. Hi Tanya! I am so excited for you and wish I could stow away in your suitcase. May your experience be blessed. Curious how you connected with a family in Germany. Are they your family, or did you find them on some kind of message board? Either way, it is an experience for sure. Hopefully, one you fondly remember always.

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