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

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

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

And if you are thinking about having 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, it is so rewarding that you’ll never want to go back to your old way of celebrating.

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!

Minimalist Christmas with Kids, 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 … it’s also cheaper to have a Minimalist Christmas!

If you want to see how we budget for the holidays, you can check out this post.

3) You Won’t Have to Declutter After Christmas

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

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

4) The Kids Will Appreciate Simple Things

One of my favorite reasons for having a Minimalist Christmas is to teach the kids 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 getting 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.

Most parents’ biggest worry about having a Minimalist Christmas is 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!

(And if you prefer to watch instead of read, check out this video:)

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, and let them know what that means for your family.

The other reason that you’ll want to have this conversation ahead of time is that you might feel overshadowed by the grandparents if you are trying to give the kids minimal gifts, but 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.

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

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!).

How to Have a Minimalist Christmas With Kids

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), 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, but we find a community production instead of going to the expensive one downtown. This was a great way to save money, and I’ve never felt like I was missing out too much 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 gift 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!*)

If you’d like to see the full list of Intentional Gift Ideas, check out this post.

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.)

For more Experience Gift Ideas, check out this post!

5) Give Them Something They Want

And once we have chosen a practical gift and an experience gift, we will also choose a gift that they want that doesn’t necessarily fit into the other two categories.

I keep an ongoing amazon wish list for each girl that I keep 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 and Christmas approach, 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.

Can you have a minimalist christmas with kids?

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 into the practical 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 wants this year could also fit into the practical category, but she is obsessed with my mom’s hydro flask water bottle… and I found some really cute Kid’s sized Hydro Flask water bottles!

Give Family Gifts Like Games, Puzzles, and Books

The girls love games, puzzles, and books because they have fun with them…

I love these gifts because they teach them to share and are 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) Give 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 get new socks in their stockings, 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 that they would like. But I still list everything out that I would be ok with them receiving so that I can let grandparents know when they ask me what the kids would like.

Our list this year looks like this:

How to Create a Minimalist Christmas with Kids

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, but since she already has a lot of toys, she doesn’t need more right now.

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 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 names next to what they decide on.

Here is what this looks like for us this year:

How to Create a Minimalist Christmas With Kids

Both Girls

Daughter #1

Daughter #2

Stocking Stuffers

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

I hope this gave you some ideas for your Minimalist Christmas!

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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?

See you on the next one! Kassy