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The "Less is More"/Minimalist Christmas

(28 Posts)
fuzzpig Sat 21-Sep-13 13:30:15

A chat thread for anyone planning to reduce the clutter etc this xmas.

What are you getting/avoiding getting for your DCs?

MrsOgg Sat 21-Sep-13 13:39:17

Yes! The thread I've been waiting for! Trying to cut back generally without losing the magic.

fuzzpig Sat 21-Sep-13 15:06:43

yay I'm not alone grin

How old are your DCs? Mine are 4 and 6 so hopefully young enough to adapt. They don't see adverts (we only use our TV for DVDs) and so far don't really ask for the latest stuff. Painfully aware that won't last forever though!

we are lucky that our family is very small and my parents/grandma prefer us to choose on their behalf anyway so there isn't a nightmare influx of mountains of unsuitable tat that I frequently read about on here!

buildingmycorestrength Sat 21-Sep-13 15:26:04

Hi fuzz Thanks for this. Christmas won't anything like minimalist in our house but I'd like to be thoughtful about gifts and timings and food to avoid overwhelm.

We have a problem every year that the children just get freaked out by so much excitement. And not just overexcited and happy, but sort of edgy, and not playing with their presents because they just want to open more. Normal, I suppose, but I'd like it to feel more relaxed and happy.

Last year we let them open gifts from friends that arrived by post almost as they arrived. It made them more special, they remembered them, and it meant that there was less on the Big Day.

I also always really appreciate gifts for the kids that are just a really nice well-chosen hairclip or a funny pair of socks.

inthetide Sat 21-Sep-13 18:46:18

The Christmas frenzy is something I dread. We are by far the least well off of one side of the family and so the kids seem to get deluged out of pity. On one hand I'd love to be asked what to get them, but on the other I'm at a loss as to what to ask for. As far as I'm concerned, we are happy as we are! Mine are similar ages Fuzzpig. We have cleared out a lot this year and it has been noticed by them. They do occasionally ask for the Disapppeared items, but yet never really played with them, nor their remaining toys. They are happy with books, their tv time and dressing up.

prettymess Sat 21-Sep-13 19:28:06

Oh I don't want more tat for Christmas. I am giving minimalist and not bothered about getting more stuff. The kids are older now so less toys.

Sockywockydoodah Sat 21-Sep-13 20:21:58

Hello again fuzzy grin

Great idea for a thread.

Having just got rid of the tat, I have requested (nicely!) that we don't get given plastic this year. Have set up a Pinterest wish list for Xmas and bday because the GPs and aunts and uncles have requested ideas.

My DC are also very young (6.5mo and 3yo) so for me it's a question of taking charge while I can!

MrsOgg Sat 21-Sep-13 20:28:54

Right, I'm back as I'm at the computer and can post properly (hate posting from my phone). We've got 1 DS, he'll be 18 months at Christmas, and our house is already absolutely full of tat. I am quite happy for him to be given more tat though, that's not the issue! What we are cutting back on is:

- presents to everyone else - we're telling everyone that we're being really frugal this year/ agreeing to no presents at all. Me and DH will get each other a little something (I'm asking for a particular mug and a book) and that will be it. In the past I've gone completely mad at Christmas, and I still get the urge, but will stand firm. We will get DS a few little gifts, but not go crazy.

- decorations. With an 18 month old we're going to have to make sure it's not too dangerous, as he is quite grabby, so we'll have to scale back significantly. I have been known to go a bit mental with decorating at Christmas and it's just not necessary. I would like to get into the habit of being restrained.

- food. I LOVE cooking. I get over-excited when we have guests and buy masses and masses of food. The first Christmas we hosted I did about ten kinds of vegetable to go with the turkey. This year I'm going to hold back and just do 3 or so. And only one choice of pudding on Christmas day, not 3 laboriously made from scratch like the year before last! And WHY do we always buy great big massive turkeys and then freeze loads of the meat? I never fancy eating it once it's been in the freezer. I think I've just been brainwashed by Christmas films and magazines. This year I'm going to get a bird that will last us generously for Christmas Day and Boxing day and that's IT.

Things I'm not cutting back on:

- Christmas cards. I know the cost of stamps has gone up but I've got lots of relatives who would like an actual card with a photo of DS in it and a handwritten message, so I'm going to make the effort.

- events. In past years we've been too busy to do much around Christmas, this year I definitely want to go to a load of carol services/ christingles/ Christmas fetes etc etc. They're free! And DS will enjoy it a lot, I think.

- Christmas stories. I'm going to get the Night before Christmas book and read it to DS, and me and DH are going to listen to an audio book of A Christmas Carol in the run-up to Christmas.

I also plan to knit DS's stocking for Father Christmas. In past years I've planned to make far too many gifts and ended up all stressed out, and not everyone appreciates a home-knitted gift anyway, so this year I'm just going to make a hat and scarf for DH (he really appreciates them - or he claims to, at least!) and a jumper, hat and mittens for DS, plus his Christmas stocking. I'm starting now, so should be no trouble!

Oh and one more thing - I'm doing a massive clear out in November and decluttering, and then on the 27th of December I'm going straight down the charity shop with any gifts I've been given that I don't want. That might seem heartless, but I've got gifts in the cupboard I was given last Christmas and they're just sitting around taking up space in my life. Also, as everyone seems to give me body wash (possibly hinting something - I do wash, honest!) I've got about 9 bottles in the cupboard. Any more I get I am GIVING AWAY IMMEDIATELY. Nobody needs that much bodywash.

Anybody got any other minimalist tips? I am by nature not at all minimalist, so I need help!

everydayaschoolday Sat 21-Sep-13 20:41:46

Hi fuzz I lurk on the minimalist thread in GH smile. Feel like I know you! I'm doing a lot of practical (that we need and would use) but fun stuff (aka avoid the tat):

character/disney bath towels
new duvet covers
character pants, pjs, vests, slippers, dressing gowns, socks
bean bags (for a reading corner)
swim gear : cossie, swim bag
basics craft stuff (tesco, the works, B&M)
ceramic breakfast sets (moving on from melamine!)
character/christmas: beakers, hair accessories, toiletries
new lunch bags and bottles for school & stationary
a selection box each

They have one big box (a toy) plus a bean bag, then the other smaller present are all the 'practical' ones. I have followed this pattern in previous years, and even my teenage DSDs (with an older theme) are happy with their 'pile' (all kids get the same in this house).

everydayaschoolday Sat 21-Sep-13 20:49:07

Excellent post MrsOgg. I did a 'shopping list' blush.

I take a massive bag to a charity that I support of unwanted items. I don't feel guilty, the presents were gratefully received and I appreciated the thought and sentiment. And I have 'used' them in they way that makes me most happy - to raise funds for a charity that needs it much more than I.

I also keep some items to use (I don't need to buy toiletries for months after christmas!) and sometimes hold a couple of items in a present cupboard to re-gift for teachers etc.

MrsOgg Sat 21-Sep-13 20:58:19

Oh that's what I forgot! This year I want to donate some special Christmas food treats to the food bank - I'd like to do this every year and in future get DS involved with picking out what we're going to give, to get in the spirit of Christmas being about giving to others as well as receiving.

TheYamiOfYawn Sat 21-Sep-13 21:07:09

Pantomime tickets make good presents.

I think my kids will be getting bunk beds this winter, so probable Christmas presents will be bedlinen and wall stickers.

I reuse stocking fillers from year to year - everyone gets a small wrapped musical instrument (shaker, kazoo, swanee whistle etc) from the music box and we make a Christmas morning band, and we also get fingerpuppets and do a little play. Most of the rest of the stocking fillers are either useful (underwear, toothbrush, hair clips, notebooks) or edible.

prettymess Sat 21-Sep-13 22:27:50

I'm getting gift vouchers or a little hamper with food for adults. Once eaten it's gone, perhaps a little basket to keep, but could easily do a cardboard box which is recyclable.

The kids have also got no interest in the bearded man so that makes things a lot easier. I'm trimming down my decorations to a nice wintery style and no santa figures all over the house. So done with that! A few sentimental items will be kept in the loft. The stockings might stay, but the kids always tended to forget about them.

One thing I have got them is a dressing gown each as they need bigger ones anyway.

I need to remember "quality, not quantity" when it comes to gifts. One really nice indulgent item is so much better than a multi pack box of unwanted tat.

And ask people what they would like, if they need something. Put money together with other family members to buy someone a new kitchen appliance or whatever... It's what we always did in my family.

Horopu Sun 22-Sep-13 04:45:57

Great ideas here.
Can I point out one disadvantage of knitted stockings MrsOgg .They go on forever, stretching and getting bigger the more you put in them! It is a nightmare. My mum made fabric ones with a design from hobbycraft for my kids and there is only a finite amount of stuff you can put in them.

fuzzpig Sun 22-Sep-13 14:08:10

I've always gone way overboard on stockings. I hate tat so it's always nice stuff, just too much. Eg rather than getting one set of Disney figures (always popular and played with endlessly) I get several movies' worth. Just one set this time though!

I am horrified at myself, just looked at my amazon wishlists (I have several) and the total item count is 776 shock INSANE I tell you. Loads of it is duplicates/slight variations, lots that would never be bought, but FFS. It just brings home that I am still too hung up on 'Stuff'.

Off to cull it now.

fuzzpig Sun 22-Sep-13 15:19:00

Making slow progress.

It helps that DH and I have agreed no battery operated toys this Xmas - not that there was anything particular we'd been thinking of, but it rules out stuff like hex bugs.

Also making little decisions like ditching the Disney puzzles I'd been looking at for DS - he will get just as much joy from a non-character one (Melissa and Doug do really nice ones full of animals, fish, dinosaurs etc).

3birthdaybunnies Sun 22-Sep-13 17:36:43

I am aiming for the useful but personal - so have got personalised pencils, swim bag and going to make personalised swimming towels. The girls want heelys, quite expensive but no little bits. Dh is getting a gravy separator - he will moan that it is too useful, but as it is always him wanting gravy he will appreciate it in the long term. Will chuck in some books and maybe craft stuff for dd2.

everydayaschoolday Sun 22-Sep-13 21:19:13

fuzz I've noticed a few posters associate non-character merchandise with minimalism. Is it to avoid supporting the big companies, and 'buying local'/supporting independent traders? I'm a newbie at minimalism, and my lurking on the other thread has seen masses of my stuff make it's way to the local charity shop. Btw, I love the Melissa and Doug wooden sets of toys and I agree they are lovely.

Tip for not overindulging in the stockings: keep the stockings SMALL!! When posters talk of putting books in stockings, I just think "how?"! Ours are just marginally bigger than my dad's a work sock. Room for a satsuma, lots of some sweets, some pens/pencils/erasers, couple of small little parcels like necklace or bracelet, a tiny notepad, a perfume miniature, and topped off with a new hanging christmas decoration for the tree. If I were to fill it with pop cans, I get 4 in it, that sort of size.

How big are everyone else's stockings??! <not sure that came out right...>

buildingmycorestrength Sun 22-Sep-13 22:11:18

inthetide "we're happy as we are"

Exactly! In some ways the big day is fun and nice but in many ways it is just waaaayyy too much for all of us.

I am Christian and would love Christmas to be more about faith, hope, charity, love, but it is totally swamped by the presents.

Growing up I always though Jehovah's Witnesses were just weird, not giving presents, but now I understand and honestly sometimes wish we had never started.

I don't know. We will give presents, of course, but trying to scale it back seems unquestionably right.

Sockywockydoodah Sun 22-Sep-13 22:20:05

Everyday - for me, the non-character stuff is partly because I want any toys my two get to be as open-ended as possible, to encourage creative play, and also aesthetic. I want fewer, higher quality toys made out of pleasing materials.

monkeymax58 Sun 22-Sep-13 22:21:50

As a JW, Building, we do give presents but not at Xmas or birthdays. Tis a blessing really as, ATM, I would have no idea what to get my boys!

They have bikes, scooters, ds's, phones and iPads. Lego, games, toys, comics coming out of their ears! They want for nothing! smilesmile

I do feel sorry for people at Xmas stressing over money and gifts and would hate to get token gifts of more body wash or another scarf.....secret Santa in the staff room is always excruciating when people get gifts they neither want or need. I feel embarrassed for them! gringrin

StupidFlanders Sun 22-Sep-13 22:47:44

Although my house is definitely minimalist (no clutter, nothing except art which isn't used) I always like to decorate the house for christmas!

Presents are a different story; my entire family does secret Santa so never have lots of presents coming in from others and I was quite blunt with all our friends that I don't want to do gifts as our kids don't need more stuff (everyone seemed relieved).

We do a big toy clear out before christmas which they know they must do for charity and to make room for new stuff and gifts are all dvds or toys which add to what they have (this year skylanders as they already have the wii/xbox etc and more superhero figures).

For those wondering how to start secret Santa it requires being blunt and honest and should be discussed as early as possible (some people shop early). During preparation for a past christmas my family was discussing how hard it is to buy for people as we buy ourselves things we want and don't need anything. I said I'd prefer not to do gifts at all- just have our get together but we compromised on a small gift for someone pulled from a hat - preferably consumable (booze/voucher etc). It's much nicer now and we've done it for a few years!

Our school year starts in January so it's also good to fill stockings with "good" school supplies.

Ruprekt Sun 22-Sep-13 23:25:48

So much stuff all the time.....hmmhmm

MinimalistMommi Mon 23-Sep-13 17:47:16

Marking my place fuzz.
We're doing minimal stockings with good quality bits and no 'tat'.
Main presents for DD's are Lego sets, I'm delighted as it means that it can all get tipped in the box we already have...grin

everydayaschoolday Mon 23-Sep-13 19:42:55

Hi Sockywockydoodah. Yes, that makes sense. Not binding an object around a particular character, therefore making it more flexible and, as you say, aesthetically pleasing. I imagine some characters may become outdated or old fashioned, and therefore the toy would as well; so not having the character on may create extended play. I get it now smile.

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