How to Have a Minimalist Christmas {When You Have Kids!}

Oct 15, 2020 | Blog, Having Kids On A Budget, Minimalism for Kids, Minimalism for Moms, Simplifying

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If you are new to Minimalism, the thought of having a Minimalist Christmas can be daunting.

And if you are endeavoring to have a Minimalist Christmas with kids… it can feel like you shouldn’t even bother!

But not only is it possible to have a Minimalist Christmas with Kids, but it is also incredibly rewarding.

So in this post, I am going to show you why I love having a Minimalist Christmas With Kids, and then I’m going to show you how we do it!

Why You Should Consider a Minimalist Christmas

1) It Is Easier

Let’s just start with the obvious, why don’t we?

Having a Minimalist Christmas is so. much. easier. then having a more traditional go-all-out type of Christmas.

I have so much less stress during the holidays now because I am not putting as much pressure on myself to make everything so elaborate.

2) It is Cheaper

And speaking of obvious reasons to go simple with the holidays… it’s also cheaper to have a Minimalist Christmas!

I’m going to put up a post soon about how much we budget for and spend on Christmas, and when I do that I’ll link it here, but be sure to subscribe if you want to see that!

3) You Won’t Have to Declutter After Christmas

If you’ve recently started (or ended) your decluttering journey, you don’t want to backtrack just because Christmas happened.

If you have a Simple Christmas, you won’t be back to square one after New Year’s Day.

4) The Kids Will Appreciate Simple Things

Ok, now let’s get into the more important reasons for having a Minimalist Christmas:

One of my favorite reasons for having a Minimalist Christmas with Kids is to teach them to appreciate simple things!

I know I’ve talked about this before in other posts, but it’s honestly one of my main reasons for having a minimalist lifestyle for my kids all year round:

I want my kids to appreciate the simple things in life… from enjoying simple toys to being excited about simple activities, and being able to entertain themselves in simple ways.

If you have extravagant holidays every year, it makes their expectations higher and it makes them less satisfied when things are low key.

5) The Kids Will Be Grateful

I have found this to be a really strange phenomenon with kids and gifts:

The less they get, the more grateful they are.

I can’t explain it, but I have seen it over and over again!

When our kids receive more gifts, they get into a “what’s next, what’s next” frenzy, and when they receive less, they get giddy about things like slippers. Seriously… our oldest’s reaction to the slippers is one of the best reactions we’ve ever gotten.

6) The Kids Will Use Their Gifts

This one is also strange and I can’t explain why this happens, but the girls play with, use, and generally enjoy their gifts more when they have less of them.

When they receive more, the gifts tend to get played with quickly and then forgotten.

How to Have a Minimalist Christmas With Kids

Alright, now let’s get into the nitty-gritty of how to do this.

The biggest concern that most parents have when they consider having a Minimalist Christmas is that they worry that their children will feel left out, or disappointed, or weird if they don’t have as extravagant of a Christmas as their friends do.

But by using these tricks, our girls have never felt left out… even though they receive far less for Christmas than their friends and cousins.

And when I say far less… I mean FAR less. It’s probably somewhere around half the amount of gifts.

So here’s how we do this!

1) Have a Talk With the Grandparents

I know it’s awkward. I know it’s uncomfortable.

But seriously, if you want to have a Minimalist Christmas and not feel like you are going to have to Declutter as soon as it’s over, you need to set expectations with grandparents and anyone else who buys gifts for your kids.

Let them know why you want to have a Minimalist Christmas for your kids, let them know what that looks like and means for your family, and you might even need to let them know what the word, the movement, the lifestyle of Minimalism is about.

The other reason you want to have this conversation is that some people will feel overshadowed by the grandparents if they are trying to give the kids minimal gifts and the grandparents still think that the status quo is the same. It’s not that they are trying to bum you out, they just don’t know any better unless you tell them.

Make sure you are open and honest about your desires and intentions for the holiday this year, and for years to come, and you will all be much happier. And *hopefully,* won’t feel like it is an ongoing fight with your parents and/or inlaws.

But once you have this conversation, don’t forget to include them in the process and let them know how they can still celebrate and enjoy the holidays with your family (see #8 below!).

2) Plan to enjoy the Experiences of the Holidays

There are so many wonderful experiences that go along with the holidays, many of which are *FREE*.

See if any churches have free concerts, go look at Christmas lights, find unique things that your city does to celebrate the holiday, and go sledding!

Some fun activities that cost a little bit of money are: cutting down your own tree in the forest (be sure to have a permit if you do this) or at a tree farm, going ice skating, making a gingerbread house, and making Christmas cookies.

If your budget allows for it, you can also check out some of the more expensive experiences that come around during the holidays.

We love going to the nutcracker (pre-covid of course), but we would find a community production of it instead of going to the expensive one downtown. This was a great way to save money, and I didn’t feel bad if a little one was fussy and I had to step out with them.

When I was growing up, and we were old enough to stay home without my parents, my parents would go Christmas shopping for the first time and have a date night. While they were out, my siblings and I would decorate the tree and the house, make Christmas cookies, and watch a Christmas movie together.

It was so much fun for us, and it cost my parents very little extra money.

If your kids are young, decorate the tree with them and have a fun family night all together at home.

Enjoying the experiences is a great way to make the holidays special without bringing extra clutter into your house.

3) Give Practical Gifts

This is always the first category that we look at when deciding what to get our girls.

Our oldest daughter can usually use a new pajama, a new coat, a fleece jacket, or a raincoat by the time Christmas rolls around. (Our younger daughter has plenty of hand-me-downs *second-child problems!*)

And we also like to get them any new socks/panties that they need and put them in their stockings.

4) Give Experiences as Gifts

The second thing that we look at getting them is an experience gift that they can use for at least a couple of months past Christmas.

In the past, this has been swimming lessons or museum memberships.

But this year the girls are requesting a zoo membership since our children’s museum and swimming lessons are still closed in our neck of the woods (thanks, Covid.)

5) Give Them Something They Want

And the last category that we typically give our girls is something they want.

I keep an ongoing amazon wish list for each girl and I keep them updated throughout the year. Anytime one of them mentions something that they would like or I have an idea of something I think they would use I add it to the list.

Then as birthdays or Christmas approaches, I go through the list and prune it to make sure that everything on the list is something that I would be happy with them having and that they would be thrilled to get.

I have a full post on Intentional Gift Ideas for Kids that you can check out for more ideas, but here are a couple of things to keep in mind when you decide which wants to fulfill.

Go for Classic Toys Over Trendy Toys

Things like classic blocks, legos, lincoln logs, and other toys that you know will stand the test of time are better than toys that are trendy and will go out of style quickly.

Think Quality Over Quantity

When Giving Gifts to your kids, give them one or two high-quality gifts instead of giving them a lot of low-quality gifts.

My oldest daughter’s wants this year could technically also fit in a need category: She recently started violin (and FYI, a 1/10 violin is THE CUTEST THING EVER!), and we are going to get her a music stand and a metronome for Christmas since she will be needing them and has been asking for them anyway!

We could just get her cheap ones so that we could give her more gifts, but instead, we will spend a little more money on them so that they will hopefully last for her whole musical career.

One of my younger daughter’s want gifts this year could also fit into the practical category, but she is obsessed with my mom’s hydro flask water bottle and I’ve found out that they have Kid’s size!

Give Family Gifts Like Games, Puzzles, and Books

The girls are obsessed with games, puzzles, and books because they have fun with them.

I’m obsessed with them because they are gifts that teach them to share and things that we can enjoy together as a family.

I saw that one of their friends got a create-your-own puzzle last Christmas so I have that on my younger daughter’s list. And I have a couple of books that I think my oldest would enjoy on her list.

With these gifts, I don’t worry too much about which child is getting which item because toys in our house are community property. Aside from their most special doll and stuffed animals, we don’t make a big deal about which things belong to which person, we just say all of our toys are for everyone to enjoy.

6) Decide on Minimal Stocking Stuffers

If you want to have a Minimalist Christmas, be sure that you don’t go crazy with the stocking stuffers.

Stocking stuffers can be an easy way for extra clutter to creep into the house in the form of cheap toys and trinkets.

One way to keep the junk out of the house is to give consumable and/or small practical gifts in the stockings.

This is what their stockings will have this year:

Stocking Stuffers

Sometimes they also need new socks, but this year they are both set.

If they need any chapstick, we will also put some in their stockings… but they won’t be getting any this year either because we have so many chapsticks right now!

If you have older children, a wallet is another great stocking stuffer that would be useful all year round.

7) Make a List

Now that you have some ideas of what you want to give your kids, make a list of everything that you want them to receive this year.

If you are used to going overboard, try to restrain yourself.

The first Minimalist Christmas will be the most challenging, but you’ll get the hang of it!

We will only purchase one gift from each category unless there are multiple needs or multiple books. But I still list everything out that I would be ok with them receiving so I can let grandparents know what they can get them.

Our list this year looks like this:

Both Girls

Daughter #1

Daughter #2

Stocking Stuffers

You probably noticed that *most* of the individual gifts for our oldest are practical ones and our younger daughter is getting more “fun” presents. There are a couple of reasons for this:

  1. Our oldest is so excited to be taking violin lessons right now. She just started a couple of months ago and as soon as she got her book last week, she began asking for a music stand. She also has been asking for a metronome since her teacher has one and we do not. So while these gifts seem practical, she’s incredibly excited about getting them and they are still a really big want for her.
  2. The music stand and metronome are quite a bit more money than we would typically spend on one child for Christmas, but since they are needs, we will still be getting them.
  3. Our second daughter is two. When our oldest was two, she got stuffed animals and a doll bed too, so now she doesn’t need any more of those things since she already has hers.

8) Get Grandparents/Relatives Involved!

Now that you know how much is enough for this Christmas, figure out if you want to have grandparents/relatives give any of the gifts.

Almost as soon as I know what I want my girls to receive, I talk to my mom and see if she wants to get any of the things for the girls. Then I put down their names next to any of the items that they want to buy.

This works really well for us because I know that what my parents are getting won’t bring clutter into the house, it saves me money since I won’t have to buy everything on the list, and my parents will know that what they get the girls will be appreciated and wanted.

And if any other relatives ask what our girls want, I will give them an option or two from the list as well and put their name next to what they decide.

Here is what this looks like for us this year:

Both Girls

  • Zoo Membership (Any relatives who want to contribute money)
  • The Bible on Living Sound (Grandmommy and Grandpoppy)
  • Blocks (Any relative who wants to give a larger item)

Daughter #1

Daughter #2

Stocking Stuffers

Then if anyone wants to claim anything else from the list, I simply put their name next to the items.

And that’s all my tips for having a Minimalist Christmas with Kids!

I’ll be doing a post next week about how we budget for our Minimalist Christmas, so be sure to check back soon or subscribe to be notified when it comes out.

You Might Also Enjoy:

How to Create a Meal Plan for the Holidays Like a Minimalist

How to Have a Simple Birthday Party for Minimalist Kids

Where to Start When You Need to Declutter: 5 Tips for Getting Started

Should You Declutter Before or After the Holidays?

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