We’ve worked hard the past couple years to minimize our belongings and consumption as well as any obligations or activities outside of the home that don’t fit into our family’s mission to slow down and enjoy life and our passions as individuals.
But what do we do when Christmas comes? Do we give our kids gifts? What kind of gifts to we give? How do we celebrate the season without focusing on the things our society deems we need in order to have the magical Christmas we all long for?
Well, considering minimalism looks different for each family, you’ll still find that our home looks like one in which children reside in. This means there are often a few toys or books strewn about the living room. Just not so many we’re cleaning them up every minute of every day.
And since our children’s lives aren’t inundated with an overwhelming choice of household items as it is, December truly becomes a magical time of year when we’re all able to focus on what matters most: Faith + Family.
So, Christmas in our home looks a bit like this:
• Time: Spending time with each other represents our love more than any tangible gift ever could.
• Activities: Before December came we sat around the table and discussed what each of us would love to experience during the Christmas season. We then cleared off our calendars (as much as possible) to focus on creating space for these special moments together without rushing around to multiple events. For example, this year my husband really wants to do a horse-drawn sleigh and since we cleared our calendar it was simple enough to book on the days available.
• Advent: We’re slowly moving through Advent (not the little chocolate calendar). We’re using the Slow and Sacred Advent by Jennifer Naraki this season and are loving it.
• Read-Aloud together: We’re reading as many beautiful, life-giving Christmas books as possible. Although we’re already knee-deep in many wonderful books, this list from Read Aloud Revival is a great one to start with.
• At home: We sing songs, read Bible verses, have thoughtful discussions and pray together often throughout the day. We also bake, play music, do arts & crafts, play games and build lots of wood fires to enjoy.
Regarding gift-giving, we just keep it simple:
• First, focus on giving to others. Our children were tasked with donating five to ten items to make room for their new season of gifts from others.
• Make a list. My husband and I sat down and made a simple list (Pinterest or Amazon works) to offer our extended family to make it easy to locate the best gifts our children desire and could use the most.
• Give open-ended gifts: No loud, flashy, plastic toys that require multiple batteries and we ask our family to respect our wishes if possible.
• Honor your child’s current season in life: The gifts we do give include things our children want but can also use in their current season of development including but not limited to books, games, musical instruments, craft supplies, make-believe items…etc.
• Gift quality over quantity: We prefer high-quality, long-lasting items instead of cheap, quick-thrill toys that clutter up our home. Montessori, Charlotte Mason and Waldorf methods all promote this type of offering.
• Experiences over things: Enough said.
• Adult gift giving: Somehow we convinced both sides of our family to draw names so we each can focus on one special gift for that one person instead of trying to piece together half-hearted gift attempts last minute for every single adult. It’s just too much stuff and chaos.
• Stockings: instead of little trinkets or toys the kids will only play with for a day and then break or pile in the corner of our home, we stuff them with essentials like toothbrushes, socks and colored pencils (we do homeschool so there’s that), as well as a couple fun items they’ll get long use out of.
• Treats: We generally stay away from a lot of candy throughout the season so special treats on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are much more appreciated and celebrated. No major sugar rushes and meltdowns needed if you’re trying to deliberately create a calm atmosphere in the home – and I think our dentist thanks us too!
Are you working toward a more peaceful, minimal home with kids? How do you plan on celebrating the season?