If you’re like our family, we’ve really been trying to simplify our lives in the past few years. That means scheduling less things on the calendar, removing excess clutter, and making space for what’s most important. Yet, if you looked at our lives right now it’s anything but simple. We are both working, in the middle of gutting a house we just bought, and have a firecracker of a toddler running around. Anything but simple, right? :) We know that all things move in seasons in life, and this just happens to be one of the busier seasons.
Speaking of seasons, I’ve been thinking about how we can maintain our deep desire to keep things simple during the holidays. In our home, less is more. But…I don’t want that to impact others within our circle. AND...we are also needing quite a few things for our new homes. So, I decided to write out how the simplicity tactics we’ve been applying to our life can be utilized during the holidays.
1) Decide how you want gift giving to look within your immediate family…and then also for your circle around you
For Alan and I we know less is more. His love language is NOT presents. We often plan a fun day or activity together. And then if there is a material item we want, we will usually tell the other person what we want. This year, it’s looking very practical. I am starting a garden in the backyard, so I asked for a composter. How romantic, right? For Marley, we stick to a few stocking stuffers and so far we got her one bigger present for her play room.
As far as extended family, we don’t want our decision to simplify to impact them. We might be wrong, but if you’ve heard of the 5 love languages we would be pretty certain that a handful of our family members would identify gift-giving as their main love language. So, we really don’t want to cut back in a way that they would feel loved. It doesn’t mean we buy a ton just for the heck of it, but we will be buying a nice item we know they really want and will appreciate that we put thought into it.
2) Go through what you have before the holidays
I’m pointing this out, because if you’re like me, I like to buy some gifts for myself. Ah! I have been getting pulled into shopping more recently as holiday deals are popping up. As I was eyeing up a pair of sneakers and booties, I thought back to what I actually have in my closet. If you can, I’d actually go through your things. My stuff is currently boxed up so that won’t be happening. Yet when I thought to what I have I realized I have some sneakers that are definitely not worn out and some boots that are so similar to what I was shopping for. So a rule I follow is either don’t buy, or pass on what I don’t plan to wear rather than fill my closet with more stuff.
3) Give gifts of quality time
I mentioned this above, but Alan and I often try to plan something fun as a way to celebrate holidays. Spending money on a fun activity means more to us than a gift. Some other people in our circles also like that, so we’ve used that with them as well. I personally have used it with some girlfriends when we’d pass little gifts around every year- but once we decided to stop that and do a fun outing instead it made everyone’s life easier.
4) Think quality, not quantity
Rather than buy a lot of things, we typically try to focus on buying less, but buying quality items that will last. This even applies to toys for Marley. Toys can quickly accumulate so we try to be mindful of what we bring into the home. Another little thing about toys, which isn’t necessarily holiday related, but clutter related :)…if you see your child no longer playing with an item, store it away. Their focus improves if they have less toys to draw their attention. As always, less is more!
5) Ask yourself if you’re drawn to the deal, or the actual item
Everyone likes a good bargain, right? We often laugh because we have a family member who lives for deals. When there is a sale, they don’t buy 1, they buy 10. Seriously. We aren’t trying to pick on anyone (see how there are no names mentioned :) ) but we realized a deal is not a deal unless you really want or need it. If we buy because it’s a great markdown but don’t really want or need the item, it’s not a deal.
6) When in doubt, lead with love and forget rigidity
If you haven’t noticed by now, our family is not strict minimalists. We like to remove excess and be mindful of what we bring into our home, but we try to catch ourselves if we become dogmatic about our simplicity journey. Because truly, the journey is not about the stuff, it’s about creating more love and joy in our life. If I were to really narrow in on what the holidays are about for us, it’s about creating memories that include gift-giving as a sign of love, but they certainly are not the focal point. It’s putting up a tree, cookie-baking, and cozy fires. It’s reflecting on the invitation of new life gifted to each and every one of us.
Simplicity is about focusing on what matters most. It doesn't mean you cannot purchase items, it just means you bring more awareness and mindfully choose what enters your home. As you shop, pause and ask yourself if the item will bring more value into your life. If not, move on. Happy rooting, everyone!