When this time of year rolls around, I usually get a little anxiety pang in the pit of my stomach and in my chest. The stress of gift giving, buying and getting decorations up, the preparations for get-togethers, all the FA LA LA LA FACK OFF! (Sorry, that should have been my inside voice). My husband and I have always been very "subtle" with the holidays. Yes, we celebrate with friends and family, we love all the festive activities and we love all the eating! But, we pretty much DESPISE everything else. The awkward gift-giving exchanges, all the stuff you buy to decorate that ultimately turns into waste and us poor parents that work our asses off to get our kids everything they've ever dreamed of and more only to pass on the accolades to "Santa".
I thought maybe having a kid may change the way we deal with the holidays, but in fact, it's made me even more obsessive about being a #minimalistMom. I've never been the type of person to overdo it and from day one I've tried to be as minimal as possible. (FYI to all the first time parents out there if you missed it, you should read over my very tight list of "Things You Need For Baby"). Also, I don't know about you, but the more minimal things are...the less you have to clean, organize and tidy. Makes sense right? You all of a sudden have space in your head to think more clearly.
So here's my challenge and what I struggle with on a daily: What I do in my professional career, is push more product. My job is to find more products at the right prices and find creative ways to market them to buying customers - It's what we call retail. On the personal side, I'm trying to be the complete opposite, trying to leave a smaller footprint, trying to do what I can to consume less. I know it's not going to happen overnight and it's going to take some lifestyle changes. But I know we as a family can get there, one small step at a time. So here's what we are doing this holidays (and onwards) to keep things to a minimum:
1. Ask yourself the hard question, "Do you really need it?". Our space is not too big and trying to fit a tree is just not possible. Thought about it, wish we can fit one but not going to happen. I do admit, I love the lights and the warmth of the holidays so we decided to keep the decorations simple with a mini light up tree from Restoration Hardware. It has a small foot print, it lights up and it requires no extra decorations, and it's super easy to store!
2. No gifts (well, very few) - We have told our families, no gifts. But if you insist on buying gifts, then only buy them for the little one. Better yet, instead of buying more toys, give the gift of an experience! A membership to Science World, the Aquarium, the Vancouver Art Gallery, the Museum of Anthropology, art classes, lift pass to the Sea to Sky, a visit to Capilano Suspension Bridge...There are SO MANY great attractions and activities you can do as a family.
For you bakers and awesome home chefs. Obviously homemade creations are 1000 times better than buying from the store. I'd take some homemade baked goods and food over a "product" gift any time of the day! So, grandma...I do not need another scarf, come by with your tasty delicious beef stew please - YUMMMY!
3. Less Packaging, Or Better Yet, No Packaging - This should be an easy one, as long as you buy less "gifts". You see how this works? I know the holidays is that time when you are entertaining guests or perhaps heading over to several get-togethers. If you are giving a host gift or find yourself on the receiving end, try to reuse your wrappers and packaging! I've always been a big fan of saving pretty paper, gift wrap accessories and gift bags.
When it comes to stocking up on kitchen and personal supplies, we have options here in Vancouver for no-packaging products! I've been living in our neighborhood for almost 3 years now and I'm really not sure why it took me so long to do this. I've started re-filling my kitchen and personal supplies from The Soap Dispensary and Kitchen Staples store. I've filled things up like: Body wash, shampoo, conditioner, hand soap, laundry detergent, kimchi, cashew spread, rolled oats, cane sugar, olives, cooking oils, gummy bears and more. You can't get ALL your food grocery items there but you can get a heck of a lot of your staples. In addition, you are saving quite a bit of money filling up with them, since you're not paying for "packaging fees" on your products.
Like I said earlier, becoming a #minimalistMom is going to take some time. It's not going to happen overnight and the constant purging, re-assessing, and organizing of things is one that will take some practice. But I can tell you this much...This holiday is already feeling a lot less stressful. I'd love to hear more about how other families are "NOT" preparing for the holidays.
Sending you all warm hugs and many wonderful expereince this holiday seaosn.