Minimalism and Christmas: Downsize the Gifts and Start Christmas Traditions

Minimalism and Christmas can be difficult for people who aren’t pursuing a minimalist lifestyle to understand. People sometimes have a hard time wrapping their head around the fact that we don’t need a ton of gifts to enjoy the magic and wonder of the season. Instead, reducing the gift-focus actually allows us to enjoy the important things even more!

Obviously, as someone embracing minimalism and trying to have less clutter and stuff, I want to keep the focus off of gifts at Christmas time. But it is much deeper than just not wanting a bunch of new things to clutter up the house.

A few reasons we focus on traditions rather than stuff:

  1. My husband and I want to discourage greed and materialism (both for us and our kids) and encourage contentment. When the best memories kids have are about the “stuff” they got, it can breed entitlement and materialism. They equate stuff with happiness, and will always want MORE.
  2. Time together is the most valuable thing we can give our kids. If we get too busy shopping for the perfect gifts, making all the preparations, and trying to make everything “perfect,” our kids may enjoy that one holiday with us, but miss out on all the time leading up to it.
  3. Traditions help children establish a healthy family identity. When we create routines and traditions that involve our children, they get a deep feeling of belonging. They also learn the value of time together to build relationships.
  4. Simple traditions can center us on what’s really important. When we intentionally choose traditions that honor our values and our family, these traditions are reminders of what’s important.

In our family, we decided to start simple Christmas traditions centered around the meaning of Christmas, giving, and time spent together. They are built around things our family loves, and each person feels included when we do them together.

These traditions don’t have to be complicated or expensive. The fact is that being together and enjoying each other’s company year after year is something they will remember.

I want to share a few of our family’s traditions, and hopefully, they can help you come up with some of your own. I’m sure we will add new traditions as our family grows and gets older. The goal is to come up with things that work for your family without a lot of pressure and stress.

Advent Calendar and Daily Stories
I’m not sure who gets more giddy about this, me or the kids. 
Check out: Nativity Fabric Advent Calendar (Countdown to Christmas)
Every day of Advent the kids remove one stuffed figures from the pockets and added to the nativity scene. You could choose to include a candy or treat in each pocket (my kids are too young for that)

Daily Stories: 24 Christmas Stories for Little Ones
24 inspiring stories related to the birth of Christ and other tales to help children learn about the true meaning of Christmas.

Cookie or Gingerbread House Decorating
Some years we decorate cookies. Some years we decorate a gingerbread house. Some years it is just us. Some years we have a party. But we always have the BEST time.

Christmas Eve Children’s Mass
This is something we do with Will’s dad. It is the early service so the chances are very slim for any meltdowns. Can I get an AMEN!?! This year Widdy actually gets to sit with the other kids to watch the play. He is going to love it.

Holiday Craft
We do crafts all year long but Christmas crafts are extra special because we make special gifts for grandparents. From ornaments to paintings, they always love what the kids make for them.


Christmas Breakfast for Dinner + Christmas Lights
This was one of the first traditions I started with the kids. I make reindeer pancakes for dinner, we put on our pajamas, make some hot cocoa and drive around to look at the sparkling lights. My husband researches and finds the BEST places to look at lights.


Cutting Down Our Christmas Tree
This is something we did at the beginning of our marriage and Widdy’s first year. Last two years we decided to press pause on this tradition until the kids are a little older. Sometimes you have to be flexible with traditions and that is okay.


Opening GIFTS
Yes, we do open gifts on Christmas morning, even though we have decided to downsize the gifts!

Each of the kids gets four gifts from my husband and me. We give them: something they want, something they need, something to wear, something creative, and something to read/educational. And stockings (minimalism stocking ideas coming soon) and ONE BIG gift from Santa.


Movie Date
This year was the first year we did this because Widdy was finally old enough. We went and saw The Grinch. He had the best time.


Ice Skating Date (one on one time with the hubby)
The holidays keep us super busy that is why it is very important to us to fit in our annual ice skating date which normally ends with a spiked hot cocoa next to a fire.


Santa at Poppy’s and Omi’s House
On Christmas Eve Eve Santa comes to my husband’s dad’s house to see everyone. This is nice because we get to have one on one time with Santa and we don’t have to wait in any lines for a photo.


I hope this has given you some ideas to build memories with your family at Christmas. For us, these traditions have come about gradually and naturally. Remember you don’t have to do it all, and your family’s traditions should be meaningful and not stressful.

Whatever you do, take time to enjoy being together.

If you have family traditions at Christmas, I would LOVE to hear about them in the comments.

xo, simply beachy

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