Holidays,  Organization & Productivity

7 Super Simple Ways to be a Minimalist during the Holidays

The holidays are just around the corner. Halloween is next weekend! Time has just flown by this year – as it tends to do the older we get.

I often talk about this on my blog & Instagram, but in case you are new here, I like to think of myself as a minimalist (but one that is still working on minimalism).

I don’t have it all figured out yet – I still buy things I don’t need from time to time, I’m still not always intentional with my time, money, and energy, and when looking around my home, I’m pretty sure many would not consider it a “minimalist-looking” home.

But, I am trying & I purposefully try to be better at being a minimalist every single day.

I have been on this journey for several years now – and I love it. It has given me so much in return – freedom of thought, freedom of choice, freedom from the “culture norms,” freedom from consumerism, and much more.

What I want to help you with today in this blog post is being a minimalist during the holidays. In today’s blog post, I’m going to give you 7 super simple steps on how to be a minimalist during the holidays.

To me, the holidays are some of the hardest days during the year to practice minimalism. But, if you can do it, they are some of the most rewarding days during the year to do so.

Before we get started, I think you will really enjoy reading this other related blog posts that I have written:

Now, let’s get to it!

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minimalist during the holidays

7 Super Simple Ways to be a Minimalist during the Holidays

What Is Minimalism?

Before we get into the 7 simple ways to be a minimalist during the holidays, let me fill you in on what exactly it means to be a minimalist.

In my opinion & experience, being a minimalist means only having things in my home and life that a) serve a purpose or function and b) bring me joy.

That’s the short of it. That’s what minimalism is to me.

If you want to read more about minimalism, and get a much more in-depth description & definition of the way of life, then head here to read this article by (one of my favorite sites).

Now, let’s get into my 7 super simple steps for being a minimalist during the holidays.

1. Be Minimal with Holiday Decor

In order to be minimal with holiday decor, I have a system that I try to set in place at the beginning of each holiday season (typically around September is when I do this). Here it is:

  • Declutter & go through all of your holiday decor
  • In order to do so, set out (3) boxes before you get started. The first box should be labeled “donate,” the second box should be labeled “keep,” and the third box should be labeled “trash.” You can have one additional box, if you think you’ll need it, labeled “re-home.”
  • Go through all of your holiday decor (by holiday is my favorite way to do it), and ensure that every single piece lands in one of these boxes.
  • Once you are finished going through all of your holiday decor & placing each item into one of the (3) or (4) boxes, take the “donate” box to Goodwill (or a similar charity) to donate all of the holiday decor items, take the “trash” box to your outside trash can & throw away, place the items from the “re-home” box in their correct location, and simply keep the items that are in the “keep” box. Super easy.

If you are wanting “new” holiday decor, follow these steps to find the perfect items for your collection:

  • First, search in your local “Buy Nothing” group on Facebook to see if anyone has any holiday decor they are wanting to part with.
  • If you have no luck there, head to your local Goodwill or Salvation Army (or any other charity/thrift store) and see what they have. I have gotten several really nice pieces of holiday decor from these places in the past – and the prices are always a good 80-90% off retail.
  • If you still have no luck, head to Ross Dress for Less. Ross is very similar to TJ Maxx or Home Goods, but is much cheaper (and often less organized, but you get what you pay for).
  • After searching your local Buy Nothing group, your local Goodwill/Salvation Army, and Ross Dress for Less, if you have still had no luck, then (and only then), head to Target or Home Goods or Pier 1 Imports to search for your new holiday decor. My number one tip here, if you reach this step, is to go with a list in your hand of exactly what you are searching for. Do not go and just browse – you will walk away with things you actually didn’t even want.

Now, let’s move on to step 2 in being minimalist during the holidays.

2. Be Minimal with Gift Giving

Perhaps one of the hardest parts about being a minimalist during the holidays is the gift giving.

It is so hard (especially when you are a parent, or even just someone who loves giving gifts to others) to be minimal with gift giving. However, when practiced intentionally, and out of love, being minimal with gift giving is so rewarding.

Here are my tips on being minimal with children when it comes to gift giving:

  • Instate the “4 Gift Rule” for children. This is very simple to follow and is actually really fun to practice, as the gift giver. It is easy to do – just determine one thing your child wants, one thing your child needs, one thing they will wear, and one thing they will read – that’s it! So, for example, for my soon-to-be-three-year-old, this may look like: a power wheels tractor (because that is the #1 thing on his Christmas wish list for this year), a scooter (because he honestly does need the next step in a scooter – he is still using a really simple scooter meant for a 1- or 2-year old), a new snowsuit, and a book about Santa Claus. And, if we were practicing the 4 Gift Rule, this is what his Christmas presents would look like – that’s it!
  • Instate the “3 Gifts – Period – Rule” for children. This is very similar to the previous rule except there are only three gifts for this one, and there is really no rhyme or reason as to which three gifts you select. For example, for my soon-to-be-three-year-old, this may look like: a power wheels tractor, a scooter, and a skateboard – and that’s it!

I really do believe that one of the two above rules is a great way to practice being a minimalist during the holidays, when it comes to children.

However, what about all the other gifts your children receive from friends & relatives? Sometimes it can be a lot – and totally overwhelming for both your and your child. Here’s how I handle that:

  • Be okay with telling friends & relatives things that your child actually needs and/or wants for the holidays. There is nothing wrong with this. You can even send them an Amazon Wish List (this link will take you to a free 30-day trial period of Amazon Prime, if you are interested in doing this for the holidays) with gifts your child would genuinely love.
  • If you have received a gift (or gifts) that you either do not want your child to have or you know he/she will not enjoy, be okay with donating these to charities – there are plenty of children within your community who would really appreciate these gifts for the holidays.
  • Portion the gifts out over the course of several weeks. Give your child one gift a day for 2 weeks (or 3 or 4, however many you have gifts for) – that way they are not overwhelmed.
  • Place the gifts you receive from friends & relatives in the top of your closet (or wherever you have extra storage space) and save them for a rainy day. I love doing this for my son!

Now, here are my tips on being minimal with adults when it comes to gift giving:

  • Give experiences rather than items & “stuff”. I have tried to do this a lot in the past several years, especially with my parents and in-laws, and they have loved it! I have given my dad a beginner’s flying lesson & flight, my mom several trips to her favorite salon for a manicure & pedicure, and my in-laws some lobster straight from Maine. Experiences are gifts that are so amazing because the memories with these last – unlike those of the “stuff” gifts we tend to settle for.
  • Limit yourself to a dollar amount you are comfortable with. If this amount is only $10, so be it. Don’t feel bad about a low dollar amount for gifts. I’ve found that, when receiving presents, people are just as happy to receive a $5 gift basket of cute items from the Dollar Tree as they are to receive a $100 gift from Pottery Barnhonestly!
  • Be okay with telling friends & relatives that you are not going to be doing gift exchanges this year (or ever), if that is what you want. That is totally okay. You may still receive gifts from others, but you should not feel bad about changing your gift-giving habits – especially if it’s because of something you truly believe in (like minimalism).

Now, let’s move on to step 3 on how to be a minimalist during the holidays.

3. Volunteer & Give Back

One part of minimalism that I try to remember frequently is the fact that it’s about intentionality.

As stated on, “at its core, being a minimalist means intentionally promoting the things we most value and removing everything that distracts us from it.” I wholeheartedly believe this.

So, because of this intentionality aspect, I believe that one thing you can do in order to better be a minimalist during the holidays is volunteer your time and/or give back to those who need it most. Here are a few ways I recommend doing this:

  • Volunteer your time at your local soup kitchen, food bank, church, or homeless shelter.
  • Make “goodie bags” for the homeless & pass out whenever you are in your car and see someone in need. These goodie bags can be filled with very simple things, such as toothbrushes & toothpaste, deodorant, soap, nuts, apple sauce pouches, bottled water, a book, etc. – anything that may make someone’s life, who is homeless, just a little bit better – even if only for that day. This is a great activity to do with your children, too.
  • Adopt a family in your community for the holidays. Here are a few sites you can head to now to check into this type of program near you: Doing Good Together, Compass, NC Lifeline, Soldier’s Angels, & Brighter Beginnings.

I’m sure you can think of other ways you can volunteer and/or give back during the holidays, but these are just a few of my favorite ways to do so, from my own personal experience.

Now, let’s move on to step 4 for being a minimalist during the holidays.

4. Make Your Own Traditions

Part of being a minimalist is adopting new ways of life and new traditions for you and your family that better fit the minimalist way of life.

Because of what you believe in as a minimalist, compared to what you used to believe in, you may very well have to make your own new traditions that better suit your new lifestyle.

Here are some of my favorite holiday traditions that help me to be a minimalist during the holidays:

  • Make homemade cookies & pass out to your neighbors (with your kids, too!).
  • Make a green & red construction paper chain that counts down to Christmas Day.
  • Go away and/or travel for the holidays, rather than staying at home (this helps with the idea of giving experiences, rather than gifts – even for children).
  • Get a group of people together to go Christmas Caroling in your neighborhood & surrounding neighborhoods.
  • Go see the surrounding neighborhood’s Christmas lights.
  • Make an ornament with your children.
  • Watch some of your favorite Christmas movies (with your kids, too).
  • Donate food to your local food bank.
  • Have your kids write a letter to Santa Claus.
  • Attend a Christmas cantata at a local church – or a Christmas Eve service.
  • Read The Night Before Christmas on Christmas Eve.

I’m sure you can think of plenty more traditions that you can begin with your family this year for the holiday season.

If you are trying to think of traditions that stick to the minimalist way of life, just think of traditions that don’t require you buying something new, traditions that allow you to utilize what you already have, and traditions that don’t require anything other than you and your children. Easy peasy.

Now, let’s move on to step 5 for how to be a minimalist during the holidays.

5. Be Okay with Saying “No”

This is something that is going to be hard for a lot of people reading. But that’s okay. Change is hard, friends. Very hard sometimes.

In order to be a minimalist during the holidays, you are going to have to get used to saying “no” to some people during the holiday season. This is just how it goes.

You are going to get invited to a lot of gatherings – think about it – gift exchanges, parties, family gatherings, etc. – there are a lot of different events that come up during the holiday season.

However, if you are a minimalist, or better yet new to minimalism, you will very well want to say “no” to some of these invites. And that is perfectly, absolutely, 100% okay.

Be kind to yourself. Remind yourself, regularly, that you have embarked on a new journey – a new way of thinking & living – and that your ideals, values, and sometimes even morals, are just different than they used to be. And because of this, saying “no” to people during the holidays is sometimes the best thing you can do.

I’ve found that, for one, it’s actually easier than it sounds, and for two, most people are totally okay with hearing “no” and really don’t bat an eye when hearing it. They simply move on and carry about their day & don’t hold any hard feelings towards you.

In fact, sometimes you will find that people are curious as to why you have said “no,” which can lead to some really great conversations about minimalism, values, traditions, etc. – and sometimes, yes, sometimes, you will find that you have inspired someone else to become a minimalist, too.

Let’s move on to step 6 for how to be a minimalist during the holidays.

6. Be Intentional with Your Time & Energy

Like I mentioned earlier, intentionality is a huge part of minimalism. (Head here now to read more about this).

Because of this, and especially during the holiday season, you will want to ensure that you are being intentional with both your time and your energy.

In order to be more intentional with my time and energy, these are the steps I follow during the holiday season:

  • Make a list prior to the start of the holiday season listing out everything you want to do during the holiday season. Include traditions you want to start or continue with your family, places you want to go, things you want to see, foods you want to eat, where you want to volunteer, etc. Then, make a pact to stick to the list throughout the holiday season.
  • Give yourself only 2-3 days set aside for buying gifts (if you are buying gifts). Only buy gifts on these 2-3 days – that way you can spend the rest of the holiday season truly enjoying the time with your friends & family.
  • Commit to using your phone less during the holiday season. Commit to placing it inside a box or basket whenever you walk into your living room – so you can focus that time on your children & family, rather than your phone.
  • Let close friends & family know your intentions for the holiday season up front. Tell them what you plan to do (and what you plan to not do), and have a conversation with them about it. They are likely to be more accepting of the idea than you imagine they will be.
  • Sit down with your children, at the beginning of the holiday season, and help them write a list of everything they would like to do and experience during the holiday season.

I know you can come up with other ways to be intentional with your time and energy during the holiday season, but these are just a few ways I like to do so – so I thought I would share with you to get you started.

Now, let’s move to step 7, our final step, for how to be a minimalist during the holidays.

7. Be Okay with Doing Something New and/or Different

I’ve already talked about this a little, but I think this deserves its own space in the list of ways to be more of a minimalist during the holidays.

Be okay with doing something new and/or different this holiday season.

Be open to change.

If you are new to minimalism, you will find that every aspect of your life is changing – rapidly – in order to better suit a minimalist way of life. If you are new to minimalism, you will also find that every aspect of the holiday season will change, as well. And this is okay!

It is okay to start new traditions and get rid of some of the old ones.

It is okay to say “no” to invitations for things that just don’t go along with your new beliefs & way of life.

It is okay to feel like you are the only parent out there actually limiting the amount of gifts you get your child for Christmas.

All of these things are okay – but more importantly, you have to learn to believe that they are okay.

Unfortunately, I don’t really have a “system” or a set of “steps” for helping you to be okay with accepting change in this new way of life you are living.

Instead, I can only offer you this promise: it gets easier with time & with practice. I promise you it does.

Take Aways

Well friends, there you have it, my top 7 tips on how to be a minimalist during the holidays.

I hope you have really enjoyed this post & learned something new from it.

I also hope that, if you loved it, you will share it with your friends and family! That would really help me so much (as well as your friends & family).

I know this post is about how to be a minimalist during the holidays, but if you are still planning to participate in gift giving this holiday season (or even if you are planning to instate the “4 Gift Rule” or the “3 Gifts – Period – Rule“, I have some really great gift guides you may want to check out. You can find all the gift guides for this holiday season by heading here now (there are guides for toddlers, men, and women here).

Next Steps

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If you are new here, hi! I’m Leslie! You can read more about me and my journey by heading here now.

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I also have a section on my blog just for stepmoms, in case you are one or know of one. It’s called “The Stubborn Stepmom” and can be found by heading here now!

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Furthermore, if you happen to be a blogger or someone in the social media business, I’d love it if you headed over to my “Business Babes” section. I have so many great blog posts there as well as free resources for those in the business.

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Lastly, since I know most of you reading are moms, you should totally check out my “Mom Life” section. I have a ton of helpful posts there on everything from potty training and gender norms to meal ideas and nap timeHead on over there now and check it out!

I’m so glad you joined me today for this blog post on how to be a minimalist during the holidays. If you want to see more, please make sure you subscribe to my blog by filling in your email in the teal-colored box below.

That’s all for now. Thanks so much for reading! As always, take care.

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minimalist during the holidays