The white walls, the modern art, the stereotypes. . .
If you have ever been interested in minimalism, but have been intimidated by all of the reasons that you “couldn’t be a minimalist” then keep reading because this post is for you!
I’m going to show you how you can implement minimalism in the areas of your life that work for your family!
There are so many different ways that you can embrace minimalism in your life, and it doesn’t have to be an all or nothing type of thing. Just having minimalism in one or two areas of your life can help lower your stress and make your life easier.
As I go through the different types of minimalism, I’m going to tell you why you might find it helpful. I’m also going to tell you if it is one that I use in my house!
If you prefer to watch content instead instead of reading, here is the video that goes with the post:
Different Types of Minimalists
1) Ambience Minimalists
These minimalists stereotypically like the white walls, curated art, and keep very few possessions. This is what many people associate with minimalism.
These minimalists are really concerned with how their house feels and looks.
This type of minimalist is more concerned with having a minimalist look and feel to their house than they are with having any sort of personalized decor.
Now, I personally don’t relate to this type of minimalist because I love decorating my house with family pictures. And having a house that looks and feels like a minimalist house isn’t as important to me as having a customized space that I enjoy living in.
But just because I don’t personally relate to this one, doesn’t mean it wouldn’t be a great reason for you to explore minimalism. If you love clean lines and clean looking spaces, this may be a great reason for you to check out minimalism and see if it might fit with your lifestyle.
2) Cozy Minimalists
The cozy minimalist is much more concerned with having a space that is customized to them and feels cozy when they are in it.
Often when you think of the ambiance minimalist, it looks like a sterile environment. Often they don’t have as much furniture, or if they do, it’s very minimalist. Typically no throw pillows and things like that.
Whereas, the cozy minimalist will have more pillows, blankets, wall decor and things that just make the house feel homey.
You would enjoy this type of minimalism if you want your house to feel clean, but you also want it to be comfortable and feel like it’s customized to you and your lifestyle.
This is definitely a type of minimalism I subscribe to. I love having a home that is easy to clean, but also feels warm and inviting.
3) Extreme Minimalists
Now, this is the type of minimalism that you would have seen if you watched the documentary on Netflix called Minimalism. These people have very little furniture, they pack for months in a tiny little suitcase, and they just have a miniscule amount of possessions.
People who like this type of minimalism will often will count their possessions and know exactly how many things they have in their house at all times.
This is not a type of minimalism that I am drawn to. I like to have enough things in my house for it to be comfortable for me to live in.
However, some people find this type of minimalism freeing because they can easily pack and travel at a moment’s notice.
So if you just have too many things in your house and you’re ready to just get rid of everything, this type of minimalism may appeal to you.
4) Frugal Minimalists
Frugal minimalists are typically drawn to minimalism because minimalists tend to buy less things. And when you buy less things, you happen to have more money (funny how that works 😅).
This type of minimalism might be appealing to you if you are already a frugal person by nature. But it might also be something that could help you if you have a budgeting problem and you need to reign in your finances.
Being a frugal minimalist helps you to not spend extra money unless you actually need to.
This is one reason I was drawn to minimalism in the first place because I am a very frugal person and I don’t like spending money on things that I don’t need.
5) Meal Planning Minimalists
Now often when people become meal planning minimalists, they create meal plans where they eat pretty much the same thing every single day. Or they may have a one-week or a two-week rotation of meals that they repeat over and over again.
Now, I do implement this type of minimalism in my house… but I put my own spin on it!
If you’ve read any of my meal planning posts, you know that I am a huge fan of having theme nights for every night of the week, and that simplifies my meal plan, without making things boring.
But this is a great way to simplify your meal plan while still having variety!
6) Budgeting Minimalists
These types of minimalists are different than the frugal minimalists in that they try to actually minimise the overall budgeting process. This means that they will often have maybe one giant account that they pull everything out of, and they just have very broad categories within their budget.
Maybe at most they have four accounts that they work with, but it’s very simple, very streamlined. A lot of things will come out of the same chunk of money because they don’t want things to get too complicated with their finances.
Now I don’t personally subscribe to this type of minimalism. And I actually recommend that people have several accounts for their budget because that actually simplifies things in your mind. Check out this post here if you want to know which accounts I think everyone should have.
If you feel like you are going in way too many directions with your budget and you need to simplify it, this might be a type of minimalism that would work for you.
7) Stuff Minimalists
Just in case you’re wondering, yes, I am making some of these terms up as I go along 😅. But stuff minimalists are people who just don’t want to have so much stuff in their house.
They don’t really care if their home has the perfect minimalist ambience. They don’t necessarily care if they have a cozy minimalist house.
They just want to have less stuff in their life, and they want it NOT to look like Toys R Us threw up in their house.
So yes, this is a type of minimalism I definitely can relate to because I do not like having too much extra stuff laying around my house whether that stuff be toys, clothes, books, or anything else.
You may be interested in this type of minimalism if you feel like you just have so many things that you can’t keep your house clean.
I highly recommend stuff minimalism for anyone who has kids. I have found time and time again that my kids are happier, they share better, and their rooms stay cleaner more easily when we have less stuff.
I can always tell when it’s time to go through and start decluttering some things when they start fighting about toys.
And there’s kind of this reverse logic with it because you think when they have more, they should be happier. But it’s just not the case.
If you are interested in stuff minimalism, Check out this post on How to Start Decluttering When You are Overwhelmed by Clutter.
The next type of minimalist is a cleaning minimalist. Cleaning minimalists just like to clean their house as quickly and efficiently as possible.
And if you’ve been around my blog or my YouTube channel before, you know that I can absolutely relate to this type of minimalist!
I used to clean my house all day on one day of the week and expected it to stay clean all throughout the week. And it did not work. So instead, I created a very simple weekly cleaning routine where I do a small amount of cleaning every day of the week except for my rest day.
Low waste minimalists embrace minimalism because they want to have a lower impact on the environment.
Now, this was not one of the original reasons that I came to minimalism. However, I would definitely say it is something I can relate to now!
Because I am a frugal minimalist, I started looking into buying things that were more reusable and figuring out which things I didn’t need to buy anymore. And it kind of led me down this low waste rabbit hole, which has been fun and eye opening!
And the further down the rabbit hole you go, the more willing you are to do some crazy things in the name of being low waste.
But if you care a lot about the environment or you just want to reduce your impact on the environment, this would be a great reason for you to explore minimalism.
9) Schedule Minimalists
Schedule minimalists want to have more white space on their calendars. They like to say no to a lot of things so that they can really enjoy the things that matter.
I definitely relate to this type of minimalism and I highly recommend it if you have children. Children can get very overwhelmed if they are constantly going and doing something (like so many of us are in western society).
If you schedule in time to be slow and schedule in simple days, children cope much better. And honestly, so do we, even if we don’t want to admit it!
So, if you are interested in this type of minimalism, check out my How to Set Up a Weekly Schedule so that you aren’t constantly going from one thing to the next.
10) Routine Minimalists
The next type of minimalists on my list are routine minimalists.
And these people really like to have a simple, predictable routine that will make their lives easier.
I can definitely relate to this type of minimalist as well because as you guys know, I love setting up easy routines that just make your life kind of run on Autopilot.
And if you guys are interested in setting up some routines that will help your home run itself, check out the YouTube series I did on How to Easily Manage Your Home, where I walk you through how to create every single routine that you need for your home to run smoothly.
11) Travel Minimalists
The next type of minimalists are travel minimalists.
This is a type of minimalism that I was interested in back when my husband and I were first married. We really slimmed down on just about everything else so that we could pay off our debt and travel before we had kids.
But this isn’t necessarily a huge driving reason for us now because we are on one income and we have kids, so we just don’t get to travel as much as we would like to.
But if you want to travel more, travel minimalism can definitely help you do this!
12) Quality Over Quantity Minimalists
Next are the quality over quantity minimalists.
These minimalists are very similar to the travel minimalists because they are able to get exactly what they want, when they want it, since they don’t have all the extra stuff and noise in their life.
For me this was not something that initially drew me to minimalism. I was very frugal and I liked buying clothes on the sale rack at Walmart because I figured “Why spend any more than that?”
But as I’ve gotten a little older, I have realized that certain things will last longer when you buy Quality over Quantity.
So this has been a mindset shift for me as I have continued to explore different aspects of minimalism. But it has definitely paid off to spend a little bit more on something that will last much longer than to buy something cheap over and over again.
So this type of minimalism might appeal to you if you are tired of buying cheap things and having them break all the time. You can invest a little bit more upfront and have things that last longer.
13) Off-The-Grid Minimalists
The next type of minimalist that I have on my list is the off-the-grid minimalists.
These people really like to be on their own.
They have so few needs and ones that they can take care of without needing anyone else to help them out.
Now, I just spent a week off-the-grid backpacking with my husband and several friends, and it was amazing. But I don’t know that I’d want to do that full time.
So I don’t really think that it’s for me, but I can definitely see the benefits of it if it appeals to you!
I mean, you’d spend a lot less money and you’d have a lot less waste if this was the type of minimalism that you embraced.
14) Practical Minimalists
The next type of minimalist is the practical or moderate minimalist.
These people love the benefits of minimalism, but they aren’t ever going to count their possessions or worry about how many things they have… as long as they have a manageable amount for them.
They also aren’t particularly worried about if they feel like they have a minimalist house or if their house is cozy.
They just take the aspects of minimalism that work for them. So this is definitely something I can relate to, although I do like to have a cozy atmosphere.
I think it is more important to be practical about how minimalist you are, than to just to be a minimalist for the sake of being a minimalist.
15) Rule-Breaking Minimalists
And the last type of minimalist that I have on my list is the rule breaking minimalist. There are a lot of unspoken rules out there about being a minimalist, but these types of minimalists just don’t care if they are breaking the rules or if they’re doing everything correctly.
Because, like I just mentioned above, I think it is more important to have a type of minimalism that works for you and works for your family than it is to just say, “I’m a minimalist and I follow all of these rules,” even if I don’t enjoy following them.
So that is it. That is all of the different types of minimalist that I could think of. Let me know in the comments below if you think I missed any, and I’d love to hear which types of minimalists you most relate to or which types you could definitely never see yourself becoming.
Ready to Simplify Your Life?
If you are ready to Completely Declutter Your Home, check out my course, Cluttered to Calm!
This course walks you through the 4 Steps of Decluttering so that you can get rid of the stress and have peace in your home.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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:
Zoo Membership (Any relatives who want to contribute money)
You’ve done your research, you’ve read the posts, and you know that decluttering is something that would be good for you and for your family.
The only problem is that now the holidays are just around the corner…
So should you start decluttering now, or should you wait until the new year?
In this post, we are going to go over the pros and cons of both options. And by the time we are done, you should know if it is best for you to start decluttering right now… or if it is best to wait until January.
Let’s start by taking a look at Decluttering before the holidays.
The Benefits of Decluttering Before The Holidays
1) You Will Stop Procrastinating
It can be really easy to keep putting something off that you know you should be doing… even when you know that something will improve your life.
Starting today will keep you from putting decluttering off for one more day.
2) You Won’t Have It Hanging Over Your Head
If you wait until after the holidays, it might be difficult to fully enjoy the festivities because you know that you will have a big project to start when everything is over.
Think about when you were in school and the teacher would assign a large project that was due right after Thanksgiving. Was Thanksgiving much fun? Or was it stressful?
If you wait until after the holidays you are kind of assigning yourself a project that will be hanging over your head in the same way.
Getting started will get rid of this feeling!
3) You Won’t Feel As Stressed
There are many studies linking clutter with stress, especially in women.
That’s because women tend to take on more responsibility for keeping the house clean than their male counterparts.
And when you have a lot of extra clutter, it’s really hard to keep your house clean.
So if you want to feel less stressed during the holidays, get started decluttering today!
4) Your House Will Feel Cleaner
Decluttering is the biggest secret to having a house that is clean all the time (check out this post or this video for more details about the other 6 secrets!).
I go into detail about how decluttering can help you keep your house clean in this video, but essentially if you want to effortlessly keep your house clean, start decluttering!
Even if you aren’t able to complete your project before the holidays arrive, just getting started can make a huge difference in how clean your house will feel.
5) You Will Have Space for Any New Gifts That You Receive
If you typically exchange gifts for Christmas, you will have more things coming into your house.
And if you have started decluttering already, you will be able to find a place for the new items much more easily!
The Downside to Decluttering Before The Holidays
You Will Have to Pause From Time to Time
I could only think of one downside to getting started right away, and that is that you will *most likely* need to pause your project from time to time.
Obviously, you don’t want your house to be in shambles during those times, so you will need to put everything you are working on away for a couple of days or even a week during the holidays.
For some people, the idea of stopping and starting might be frustrating enough that it would be better to just wait until the can do their project from start to finish without any interruptions.
The Benefits of Waiting to Declutter
1) It is Easier to Declutter Toys After the Holidays
If one of your biggest areas to declutter is your kids’ rooms, it might make sense for you to wait until after the holidays.
It is easier to declutter toys after the holidays for a couple of reasons:
The first is that it is much easier to get rid of old toys when you just received some new ones. So if your kids receive toys for Christmas, it will be easier to talk them into parting with some of their old ones.
The second reason it’s easier to declutter kids’ things after the holidays is because you can talk with your kids about how many children didn’t receive new toys like they just did.
As you do this, you can also talk to them about how it is good to give things to people less fortunate than we are.
2) You Don’t Have to Pause
If you wait until after the holidays, you won’t have to pause your project for different holiday festivities that are bound to come up.
Some people (like your’s truly) don’t mind taking breaks here and there as long as they are able to get back to the project quickly and keep moving forward, but other people find it very frustrating to be interrupted.
If you don’t like it when you have to take a break from your projects, then it may make a lot of sense for you to wait until after the holidays to get started.
The Downside of Waiting
1) You Might Just Be Procrastinating
Often we know when we need to do something, but it’s really easy to say “oh I’ll get started on this after the holidays.”
The problem is that after the holidays there will be something else that you can say you will start after…
Until before you know it, it is just before the holidays again and you still haven’t gotten started decluttering.
If you feel like you might just be procrastinating, get started now.
Even if it isn’t perfect and you don’t have all of your ducks in a row, just getting started will move you so much closer to your goal.
2) You Don’t Get to Enjoy The Benefits of Decluttering
You will still feel stressed in your home, your house won’t feel as clean as you would like it to, and you’ll still have a huge project hanging over your head.
Whereas if you just get started, even if it isn’t completely perfect by the time the holidays get here, it will still be better than it is right now.
What Would I Do?
With all of these pros and cons in mind, if I were beginning my decluttering journey right now, I would choose to start decluttering before the holidays.
There are two reasons for this:
I don’t like procrastinating. I do much better when I just get started once I have decided to do something.
Now that I know what it is like to live in a decluttered house (and let me tell you, it’s pretty amazing!) I would want to get to the end result as quickly as I possibly could!
If you are the type of person who doesn’t like to pause projects when you are working on them, it would probably be best for you to start after the new year…
Just don’t wait too long, I promise, it will be worth it when you are done!
If you are ready to change your life with decluttering, but aren’t quite sure where to start, I would love to work with you!
If you know you want to declutter, but just need a little help getting started, check out Decluttering 101. Decluttering 101 is a one-hour, private coaching call where I help you develop a game plan for tackling your biggest pain point.
If you want to be sure you see your project through from start to finish, check out Kick Your Clutter to the Curb. Kick Your Clutter to the Curb is 12-week coaching program with weekly coaching calls and unlimited text and email support.
A lot of people don’t think that the words “Minimalism” and “Kids” can belong in the same sentence.
I mean, kids are supposed to add a lot of expense, stress, and… well…stuff to your life! And even if you were able to declutter all of your things while having kids at home, what are you supposed to do about birthdays??
Birthday Parties tend to focus on the accumulation of stuff and almost seem to have become a display of who can throw the most elaborate party these days.
So how could you navigate birthday parties as a minimalist mom?
Well, as a mom of two little kids, I can tell you that being a Minimalist with kids is not only possible, but it will reduce the amount of stress and expense in your life as well!
So I’m going to show you how this Minimalist, Budget-Conscious family does birthdays without missing out on any fun!
1. Skip The Decorations
Setting up and tearing down decorations takes a lot of time and money… and usually the child couldn’t care less about them.
Sure, they make a cute backdrop for the photos… but are they really adding to the enjoyment that anyone is having at the party?
Unless your child loves to decorate and enjoys seeing the decorations, just skip it!
And if your child does love to decorate, give them a small budget and let them do the decorating themselves or with the help of a parent.
It may not be Pinterest perfect, but it will bring them joy.
We have never done any more than one bag of balloons blown up that we got at the dollar store, and our kids didn’t notice anything missing.
2. Forget the Party Favors
Kids don’t need a reward for coming to your child’s birthday party. Playing with their friends and eating yummy food is already fun!
Party favors can also be surprisingly expensive, especially when they are usually very cheap trinkets that will be played with a couple of times before they end up cluttering up your friend’s house.
Trust me, the kids won’t miss them and the parents will probably thank you if you skip the party favors!
3. Go Potluck Style for Food
Some people may find this tacky, but we have never had a party for either of our girls where we provided all of the food for everyone.
We have done everything from grilling at our house and asking everyone to bring what they want to grill plus a side dish for everyone to share, to having a picnic at a park and asking everyone to bring their own picnic lunch, to having a take-out party and telling everyone to bring their favorite take out!
The take-out party kind of happened by accident, but it was a huge hit!
I wasn’t planning on having any party for my oldest daughter’s second birthday, but a bunch of our family on both sides ended up being in town on the day we were going to celebrate. Since I was planning on getting take-out Thai Food (her favorite) for our family anyway, I just told anyone who wanted to join to bring their favorite take-out from anywhere they wanted.
My aunt loved it because she isn’t a big Thai food fan, and she wanted The Spaghetti Factory instead! Everyone got to enjoy their favorite take-out while spending time together and celebrating.
4. Ask for Help With The Cake
Or if you aren’t much of a baker (like yours truly!) ask a friend or a relative who is good at baking to make it for you.
My mom is the resident baker in our family. She makes amazing-tasting, gorgeous-looking, gluten-free, refined sugar-free cakes and pies for every birthday party.
Several of our friends also love to bake and make beautiful desserts as well and one of them has brought a dessert a couple of times for birthday parties.
People who love to bake will take it as a compliment if you ask them for help!
And if you don’t have any relatives who like to bake, grab a box cake at Wal Mart! My grandma made those for every birthday growing up since they were the cheapest option. And you know what? They were delicious!
5. Have the Party at Home or at a Park
I know it’s super cool to rent out a bowling alley, or museum, or trampoline park for your kid’s birthday… but it’s also super expensive!!
Not only is it expensive, but it also tends to overwhelm the birthday kid and can lead to a lot of meltdowns.
A great way to simplify is to host the party at home.
We have had birthdays at the park, at a splash pad, at our house, or at a relative’s house (which was super fun because they had a pool!).
One of my daughters’ little friends just had an at-home High Tea Party complete with crafts and the adults serving the tea for the kids. The girls had a blast!
You can be really creative and have a special party without all the extra bills.
The kids usually have the most fun when the party is the most simple.
6. Limit the Guest List
A great way to cut down on the stress for the birthday party is to keep the party small.
If your child is more introverted, like my younger daughter, they may enjoy and even prefer having only one or two special friends at their party.
If your child is an extrovert, like my oldest daughter, you may need to give them a limit on how many people can join… or you may decide they can have as many people as they want, but you may want to ask that people don’t bring gifts to limit the clutter that will come into your home, or ask people to contribute to the food to save you time and energy, or host at a park to minimize cleanup or all of the above!
Or you can offer them more time (like a full day or weekend) with one really special friend.
7. Ask for No Gifts
I know it may seem a little awkward to ask for no gifts, but it isn’t hard at all once you get the hang of it!
In my experience, most parents are relieved to know exactly what is expected as far as gifts go and are happy when they don’t have to run to the store and spend money before the party.
We have had No Gift Parties in 3 different ways:
We spelled it out! Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want your child’s birthday party to be like. We created a Facebook invitation for my oldest’s 3rd birthday and I simply wrote on the invite, “No gifts, please 🙂 She just wants to spend the day at the splash pad with her favorite people!” This is the best approach if your group of friends is used to doing a lot of gifts for parties.
We didn’t specify that it was a birthday party. One year, we just sent out a text to our friends saying that we wanted to go to the park and spend the day and anyone who wanted to join could. People obviously found out it was her birthday when they got there, but it took some of the pressure off me needing to coordinate food and make it a “party.” Everyone brought their own picnic lunch and we had a great day.
We didn’t give a lot of notice. One year we didn’t plan to have a party at all and had thought we would just spend the day doing special things with our family. But when we asked my oldest the day before her birthday what she wanted to do, she said she wanted to eat in the backyard with all of her friends. So I shot a quick text to all the parents and asked if anyone was free to come over the next day. Amazingly everyone was! I didn’t specify “no gifts” since it was such short notice and I figured most people wouldn’t have time to get anything anyway. Only one friend brought over a gift and everyone else just brought homemade cards (which she loved!).
8. Go Simple With The Gifts
I know that we all want to give our kids the most amazing birthday ever, but more gifts won’t accomplish that.
Giving the child too many gifts will overwhelm them and lead to everything only getting played with for the first week or two until they are left on the floor of their room.
Simple gifts are often cheaper, they encourage imagination, and they tend to get played with longer than more flashy and expensive toys.
Simple toys will generally garner a more subdued initial reaction from the child, but they get so much more enjoyment from them down the road.
This year for my oldest daughter’s birthday we built on something that is already a passion of hers (like I talk about in This Post) riding her bike!
We got her a water bottle holder, a basket, and her grandparents got her a bell. She was thrilled with the additions to her bike and will get a lot of use out of these simple gifts in the coming months (or years!).
If you want to get your child a larger gift, but your budget doesn’t allow for it, see if you can get your family members that would normally buy your child a gift to go in with you on the one item.
We have done this several times with our family when we wanted to buy our children larger gifts like a Strider Bike or a Museum Membership.
Even if each set of grandparents and aunts and uncles only contributed $10-$20, it still made the larger present much more feasible for us to be able to pay the difference.
10. Have An Amazon Wish List For Each Child
If you want to be intentional about the gifts your child receives, start an Amazon Wish List for them.
You can let any grandparents and aunts and uncles who want to give the child a gift know that they have a wishlist. And you can even let them know which are the most desired items.
I have a wishlist for each girl and every time they express a repeated interest in something (I don’t put every whim they have on the list. then I go to Amazon and add it.
Then when their birthday’s come, I know exactly what would bring them joy to receive and I have an answer when grandparents ask what they want.
11. Have a Fiver Party
If you have a group of friends that are used to giving gifts, throw a Fiver Party as a less expensive option for you and your guests, and a way to get a more intentional gift for your child.
When you throw a Fiver party, you ask your guests to bring a $5 bill instead of bringing a present.
Be sure to let your guests know what the bigger gift will be!
If you want to throw this type of party, simply put on the invitation “No gifts please, (insert child’s name) just wants to spend special time with friends. If you want to get them something, please bring $5 instead… (insert child’s name) is saving for a (insert the desired item)!
I recommend using Facebook or texts to invite people instead of spending money on paper invitations. Then you can save money and the environment at the same time!
12. Have a Special Birthday Week Instead of Focusing on One Party
We started this little tradition when the Covid-19 Pandemic hit right before my younger daughter’s 2nd birthday. Since she is my introverted child, she didn’t necessarily mind not being able to get together with friends, but we still wanted to make her birthday special.
So I got the idea to ask her what she wanted to eat every evening for the next week. She listed off all her favorite meals (including K-Loaf twice!) and we had a week full of special meals and desserts… and lots of K-Loaf!
It made it feel like we were celebrating all week instead of just one day, and this has now become a little tradition in our house!
Plus it is a lot cheaper to just make special meals instead of having a big party, and it will take care of your meal planning for the week!
13. Let Them Be King or Queen for The Day
If you want to go simple but want to make your child’s birthday special, let them be King or Queen for the day.
Let them choose what they want to eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. And let them pick the special activities for the day (if they have expensive taste, give them a list of approved activities!).
If your child is someone who needs time to think things through, give them the options in advance so they can think it over.
Fun ideas you could include would be going to the park, going on a family bike ride, hanging out in a hammock and reading together, painting nails together, going to the library, making a fort in the living room, baking a cake together, going on a hike, doing crafts, the sky’s the limit!
14. Set Realistic Expectations
If your child is used to having lavish birthday parties with tons of presents, sit down with them before the minimalist birthday party.
Let me know that this year will be a little different.
Explain to them why you are going to have simple birthday parties now. Let them know if you are just wanting to simplify your life, or if you are getting your budget under control. Be sure to explain the benefits of a minimalist party too like getting the larger present that they really want, and getting to choose how they want to spend their special day (or week!).
Children are usually much more understanding than we give them credit for.