I’m still having a minimalist Christmas

Spoiler alert for people I will be gifting to: I recently learned that I make wicked biscotti, so that is my homemade delight this year. That’s what you’re getting. And my delightful company.

Ok, maybe a small something or other to show my affection too, I can’t give it all away on a public blog.

For myself, I don’t want any gifts this year, I’m just hoping to get a lot of good food and hugs from family (and friends) at Christmas dinner! This is like last year, when I first advocated a material gift-less Christmas, and in the past 12 months, my perspective on the subject is largely unchanged.

Why I still don’t want stuff:

(seriously, this was actually the theme of my birthday)

It takes up space. It takes up space in your home, and when you’re bored of it, it takes up space in landfills. I had a lot of anxiety buying my TV since it’s the first item I’ve bought in over 6 years that cannot fit in a suitcase. I’m still living in an apartment largely furnished with a friend’s possessions, and as the conversation goes forward on what to do with it all, I’m hesitant to inherit anything. What if I move? What if I change my mind? Extreme clutter only ever leads to extreme anxiety.

It’s wasteful. Not only does it take up space, it takes up resources and time, both to make it and to maintain it. When I’m sick of dusting or washing dishes or doing laundry, I know it’s time to give away what I don’t need and simplify so I have more time and more focus on the things that are important. Time is a precious resource that I always feel short of, so I don’t want to spend any more of it than I have to maintaining objects in my home.

It’s all depreciating assets. I do love to spend, but it has to be only on one of three things: 1) things that I need, 2) experiences that make me happy, and 3) assets that will generate more income. Food, shelter, clothing, travel, savings, investments, education, DONE. I do get a bit sentimental about some jewelry and I like to dress in fashionable clothes, but other than that I’m really proud of how little I’ve come to own over the past few years. I feel largely unattached to my possessions and I find that very liberating.

I just don’t. If I stay out of the mall and off of shopping websites, I don’t make wish-lists of dresses and trinkets. I don’t buy DVDs or books (unless their absolute favorite stories and hard to find). And while I do have those moments when I think, “I need new bed sheets, these are fading” or “these shoes will need to be replaced soon”, at the end of the day I have more than I need and I’m satisfied with what I have.

Now, I posted the following video last year but I still think it’s worth a watch to keep perspective during this stuff-obsessed season where we equate objects with affection:

Merry Christmas!

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  1. We’re big on experience gifts – the memories tend to last a lot longer than crap made in China.

  2. great blog post! i wish everyone felt the same way!
    i have made a pledge to only gift things that are consumable, or are experiences, or are recycled or help the giftee to be more sustainable.
    have a merry & green christmas!

  3. “Food, shelter, clothing, travel, savings, investments, education, DONE. ”

    I’m not religious, but AMEN!

  4. I f#*king hate when people think I’m being modest or self-righteous when I say that I don’t want a gift, when it’s actually more of a practicality for the reasons you listed. I have a tiny, third-floor apartment!

  5. I really want a non materialistic Christmas. This year all I want from Santa is a perfume (I ran out in October, and I waited until Xmas to get it), and cover for my smartphone (so I won’t break it).
    I think I face more pressure from my in laws family to get them more $$ presents because they tend to spend more money on us. Although my family spends the same amount of money just buys stuff on sale, like me! I really try to be even between families.

  6. I could not agree more. When you have kids it can get much worse. We have a lot of family visiting this year for Christmas and they’re all shipping their gifts to us that they’re giving to everyone else, it just makes my stomach churn.

  7. I totally agree with John. Having kids makes it a million times worse so enjoy it while you can. When you have kids, well meaning friends, coworkers, and family members give way more gifts then you ever need in your home. The thought is certainly appreciated but it’s just too much.

  8. Christian L. says:

    Good for you. I tried to get my family to have minimalist Christmas years ago. They weren’t on board. Christmas remains grandeur at my family’s. At least I stayed within my budget shopping for them.

    -Christian L. @ Smart Military Money

  9. I agree and I think getting a gift you can eat or turn into something of an experience is better than getting junk you would never use. I’d rather say, na don’t bother as I hate to see people waste their money. I always try to think of things that the person would be able to use or take something away from it. Happy Holidays mate… oh and I wanna see those biscotti’s and the recipe!!!

  10. I really appreciate home made gifts especially food. It’s consumable and I love trying other people’s favorite recipes!

  11. This year as much as possible I am trying to get away from gifts and instead use money to do things with people I care about as our gift to each other… loving it so far! My mom and I had a nice dinner, went to the Nutcracker ballet, and then to a piano bar. My boyfriend and I went to the Star Wars Identities exhibit and he has a surprise outing for us planned this weekend. My sister and I are planning something together for next time we are in the same city. Other than that, we just got a couple of small things (like PJs, which is a family tradition), and I crocheted some small items for my mom and sisters… gotta love homemade! I told my family members that wanted to give me gifts to donate to the Humane Society in my name… or buy me wine, that’s good too ;)

  12. Preaching to the converted. I like food as gifts, but I’ve gotten pickier and picker over the years, so it’s almost impossible to buy me anything to eat now (GOOD macarons excepted).

    I’d rather have nothing, or cash/cash equivalents if people give anything… my way of getting them to stop, is to NOT give them anything. They usually get the hint and take me off their list. Then we go out for coffee and gab instead.

  13. I’m definitely having a minimalist Christmas this year. I do not really want or need any stuff and I’m happy to not give anything to anyone either. This year I’m doing experiences only, which translates into having a lot of meals with friends and family but it’s going to be awesome.

  14. I agree with your sentiments, but I feel I can’t escape! My husband hates the idea of giving or receiving cash, which I view as having the most utility. I’d rather just spend time with loved ones than worry about gifting.

  15. “I’m still living in an apartment largely furnished with a friend’s possessions, and as the conversation goes forward on what to do with it all, I’m hesitant to inherit anything. What if I move? What if I change my mind? Extreme clutter only ever leads to extreme anxiety.”

    I’m EXACTLY the same. Buying my coffee machine last month was the wave of anxiety — “What if I move, what if I get a roomie who has a coffee machine, what if I decide to stop drinking coffee?!”

    Fortunately on the Christmas fund, most people know about my aversion to things and give me food or cash :)

  16. Great post and I couldn’t agree more. Also I love that video and I’ve shown it to people many times. It’s hard to keep the full product life cycle in mind when it’s not right in front of your face.

  17. Sometimes it is really hard to get folks to JUST stop anyway! I really don’t have room for more.

  18. I’ve seen that movie recommended before, I’ll have to watch it another time.

  19. mycanuckbuck says:

    What a great idea. I’d take biscotti any day! We’ve really cut back on gift giving/exchanging, and also do charitable donations as gifts.

  20. This Christmas turns out to be our cheapest Christmas yet. Good gifts to very close family members and a couple friends and that’s it. We are not expecting anything in return. It just feels good to give. :)

  21. I can’t remember if I commented here or on twitter but :DDDD This sums up why I hate getting gifts. Gift cards = ok. Cash = ok. Don’t give me a sweater that I will never wear.

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