Enjoying Christmas as a Minimal Consumer

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The best part about Christmas

I don’t consider myself a minimalist but rather an aspiring minimalist. I practice mindful spending all the time.

I love Christmas and what it means. Additionally, I love the family gatherings that occur during the Christmas season. What I don’t love is shopping and trying to find gifts for everyone. I don’t really like the whole consumerism side of it. That being said, I’ve come up with some crafty gift giving options to make the whole holiday more enjoyable.

Some People Like to Gift

Have you ever heard of the book, The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman? He basically has coined 5 love languages that people typically gravitate towards. One of them is giving gifts. I have some family members who love to give gifts. I certainly don’t want to rob them of the joy they receive from this.

Side note: if you want to take a quiz to learn you love language, you can do so here for free.

My Mom, in particular, loves gifting her children and grandchildren. She is also kind enough to let us pick out our own gifts so this is often the time of year when I get new clothing. However, being an aspiring minimalist, I have a rule with myself. If I put something new in my closet I must donate something old. Often times I trade one for two.

Anyway, my point here is if you have family members who really love to give gifts, the loving thing might be to acquiesce. Simply see if they are willing to get you something you need.

Frugal Christmas Gifts

Being that I just completed my debt pay off journey at the end of 2017, my previous year’s Christmas gifts have been on the frugal side. I want to be very clear on one thing, frugal does not have to mean cheap. I’ve found ways to give very thoughtful gifts which I poured my heart and time into that cost very little money. These gifts have been well received so I wanted to share them with Y’all.

The gift of the pen

What I mean by this is writing something to your loved ones. When I got divorced in 2000 and unfortunately had to file bankruptcy, my Dad basically forbade me from spending any money at Christmas. That year I wrote a heartfelt poem to my family. Furthermore, I used a frame from a former wedding picture (recycle!) and framed it.

Voila! That year my Christmas gift made my Dad cry.

Some years, I’ve taken the time to write out thoughtful Christmas cards to the members in my immediate family (parents, brothers, and sister-in-law).  Handwritten cards are kinda becoming obsolete. People appreciate handwritten words. Moreover, people really appreciate it when the words are specific about how they’ve impacted your life.

Pictures

Several years ago, I went through old picture albums and found my favorite picture of me with each of my family members. Then I went to a discount store and bought cheap frames and framed each one.

I’ve seen some of these framed gems on my family member’s desks and dressers. I think they’ve been cherished.

Knitting & Crocheting

Knitting and crocheting are fairly easy crafts to learn. I’ve made a lot of blankets and scarves for people through the years. I first had my Mom teach me how to crochet when a good friend was having a baby.

Then I joined a knitting group with some girlfriends and learned some additional skills.

Yeah, I know it sounds like I’m 90 years old but seriously, I hang with some crafty, hip gals.

People love a handmade gift…especially when you pour time and effort into it. My friend Amber’s little girl cannot go to sleep without the blanket I made. Technically I made it for her brother, but she claimed it as her own. Haha! How cool is it to make something that brings someone such comfort?

Painting

I’ve taught myself some painting via YouTube videos over the last few years. I’ve been intentional with some of my paintings and made them with specific people in mind.

I’ve seen my paintings up on friend’s and family member’s walls in their homes. How fun is that?

Scavenger Hunts

I have one niece and two nephews whom I adore. They get a ton of stuff for Christmas and don’t really need more from me. However, I like being a giving aunt and I’ve written on this before. My way of giving to the kids usually either involves a lesson on money or quality time.  They seem to be happy with both.

This year I’m putting the kids on a scavenger hunt. I did it a previous year and they loved it; however, I realize I need to up the level of difficulty. The way I did it previously was to purchase little knick-knacks from Michael’s craft store to use as clues. I spent under $10 for this.

I wrapped each clue and numbered them. Then I placed them in strategic places. As they opened the clues they had to figure out where the next clue would be. For example some I wrapped up miniature pop cans. When they opened them I asked them, “where would you find soda pop?” Naturally, they figured out it was the refrigerator. I sent them on several rounds and when they opened the final gift it was a promise of an adventure day with Auntie Dee.

Adventure days don’t have to cost a lot of money. We like to go to the local Animal Protective League and hold kittens and say hi to the dogs. This is free.

The Gift of Experiences

Several years ago my Dad planned and bought the entire family the gift of going on a Disney Cruise. Woah!! I had never been on a cruise previously and I must say, Disney has spoiled me for any other.

This is how the cool girls hang

Okay, so I’m not financially at the place of taking my family on a vacation but I love the concept. This got me thinking about some other creative ways to gift experiences rather than stuff. Here are some ideas I’ve come up with that can work for any age:

Season pass the local zoo

Especially if you have little ones in the family the zoo can be a fun thing to do in the summer months. Commit to this by gifting a season pass.

Gift certificate for bowling

Pretty much anyone can bowl. I’m not saying anyone can bowl well, but anyone can bowl. How about giving the family a gift certificate for a night on the town bowling? It could be an enjoyable way to spend time together playing a fun game.

A Day at the museum

How about a promise to take the family to a day at a local museum? We have a phenomenal art museum here in Cleveland that I don’t take advantage of enough. A gift of a promise is a way to set intentionality to do something you’ve been wanting to do.

Volunteer together

Christmas is about giving so how about giving to people less fortunate than you? Find an organization you want to support and sign your family up for a volunteer day. It may not seem like a gift but I suspect blessings will flow out of it.

Make your family a special dinner

This technically can go along with any of the above since most people like to eat. Rather than taking the entire family out to a restaurant after the zoo, bowling, museum, or volunteering, how about making them a special dinner?

One year for Christmas I made my entire family vanilla crème brûlée for dessert.  It was a special treat that everyone enjoyed!

Get creative

Okay, so I cannot really share my latest idea as my family reads this blog but I thought of something unique to give everyone for Christmas this year. Perhaps you’ll read about it after the festivities and be able to put it in your back pocket for next year. If you are really itching to know, please contact me and I’ll share with you.

However, I encourage you to put on your creative thinking caps. You know your family best and what they like to do. Think of a fun activity that everyone would like to do and present it as a gift.

Essentially you become the organizer of said event which is really the gift. It seems to me that everyone has a laundry list of local things they’d like to do but never get around to it. By gifting a promise, you are helping others with their bucket list.

Finally, create a unique gift certificate or flier that everyone can open on Christmas day.

Closing Thoughts

It is possible to enjoy Christmas and not get caught up in the whole consumerism side of things. It just takes a little outside of the box thinking.

If you are crafty it takes some time and planning on what you will make.

All in all, I say enjoy the holidays and find what works for you and your family. Most importantly remember to love the people in your life.

So how do you enjoy your Christmas? What are your frugal and creative tips?

12 thoughts on “Enjoying Christmas as a Minimal Consumer”

  1. Love all these ideas! I have been thinking similarly for awhile, but haven’t quite pulled the trigger 😉 Most of don’t need more “stuff”! Thanks Deanna!

  2. I LOVE the idea of gifting experiences!

    It makes the holiday way more meaningful by creating memories instead of focusing on “things”. Because what are your loved ones more likely to remember — a fun excursion with one-on-one time, or that Make Your Own Fondue Kit that’s sitting in the basement, gathering dust??

    Great job, my friend!

    1. Yesss! This is what we talk about in the FI community all the time, right? We are all looking for meaningful experiences…so why not gift them.

      Build memories, not closets fillers.

  3. Oh I love this! I’m gifting our parents canvases of the grandkids this year. For each other, my husband and I really always do experiences, a trip we want, or a purchase we needed for the house.

  4. Something we do for our anniversary / birthdays / Christmas since they’re all around the same time is to “gift” each other a trip. Not the same as bankrolling a while vacation, but that’s an idea for a family – each cover your own cost and give the gift of time together somewhere new 🙂

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