Minimalist Christmas: Part 1

While getting rid of things I unearthed a pile of written and partially addressed thank you notes. They were neatly encased in the thank you card box just waiting to get the full address, a stamp and a drop off at the mailbox. They were a year and a half old.

Also unearthed: four packages of discounted Christmas Cards from Chapters bought two years ago. It seems I have great intentions with cards but poor execution.

This year will be different. No Christmas cards. No panicked gift giving and last minute shopping. I want to give gifts with intention not guilt. I want to celebrate the holidays with family and friends, not packed in with other stressed out strangers in a mall. No Christmas guilt.

This year will be about face time and family fun. Rides on the Stanley Park Christmas Train, baking with my mum and sisters, a trip to the local mountains for some sledding and watching Love Actually with a hot cup of espresso and Bailey’s.

Instead of cards I’ve devised a plan that’s more personal, more work but also more rewarding. My Christmas Call List. I’ve made a list of everyone that I would send a Christmas Card to. Those not in walking distance are on a call list. In the weeks leading up to Christmas I’m going to make a lot of phone calls. There will be some Skype involved as well.

For those within walking distance (or quick skytrain) I am going to visit. Yes, there will be a knock on your door or a buzz from your intercom. I’ll come bearing treats. I’ll check to see you’re home and not entertaining your nudist meet up before heading over. I won’t stay long but long enough to wish you the best of the season and joy in the new year. No Christmas Carols unless you’re singing.

I’ll have a few other posts up in the coming weeks about trying to get minimalist this Holiday season. Rest assured, I’m not getting a half Christmas tree as you see above.

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  • Lovely post – and very in tune with my thinking. The Love Actually DVD and Baileys coffee sounds fantastic (only problem is I did buy some Baileys on promotion in anticipation – but drank it oops!). Totally agree. Every year I remove myself further and further from commercialised Christmas. Definitely no Shopping trips for me – I have a plan! Christmas cards also a no go… for close friends and family I’m going to make individual Christmas cakes instead and personalise them (and hand deliver). The kids will make grandparents cards and close relatives.

  • Sounds like a perfect plan! We’ve done photo Christmas cards for years, but last year we opted to do it by email instead, and got very positive reactions. I used a free digital scrapbook program to put a few pictures together on a page and make them look nice, and we attached it to an email. We had five people on our Christmas card list who don’t have email, so I printed copies of the card for them, and mailed them. Addressing five envelopes sure was easier than the usual 45.
    We don’t do gifts at all, except for my mother in law. I always make her something involving photos of her grandkids. This year, I’m turning a 4×6 photo album into a mini scrapbook that she can put in her purse. It’s fun to make, and when I only have one gift to do, there’s no stress. Other than that, we’ll make lots of good food and meet up with friends and family for some stress-free celebrating.

    • I love all the ideas here, all around! What program did you use for the scrapbook e-card, FrugalBabe? I’d love to do the same this year . . . can’t deal with the idea of mailing cards yet again this year (!)

  • Excellent post. I might steal your call sheet idea. Grudie and I are celebrating solstice on December 21st and it sounds like your minimalist Christmas goal could fit with our solstice party.

  • My best Christmas had to be when all the extended family on my side gathered at our house. I know it is selfish of me but having all my people around to just hang out and be with was so awesome. Having little events like sledding and ping pong gave it focus but letting people choose to take part or not also made it great. I don’t think I can remember what was purchased, given or received that year but the feeling of family and togetherness will last forever. For me that is the real meaning of Christmas. Best wishes for a holiday filled with friends, family but not shopping and stress.

  • When I commented yesterday forgot to add that when thinking about giving gifts that a little thought goes a long way. A favourite of mine is babysitting vouchers. Busy Mums (and Dads) all need some time out occasionally, and people do not always like to ask for help. Giving your time can mean so much more. If you want to go that extra mile, then give a ‘me time’ box, in this I would put a small bottle of wine/liqueur, a small but quality chocolate bar/treat, a mini (again quality) bath oil, maybe a magazine, or a book they’d like, and any other small luxuries they like that can be used up in one ‘go’ or experience (all consumable so no clutter). Place also inside the babysitting voucher to top it all off.

      • Snow in Canada – my idea of heaven (there’s talk of it snowing over here in the UK at the weekend – but it won’t be as beautiful as snow on Blackcomb mountain)! Recommendation – if you haven’t seen it ‘The Holiday’ with Cameron Diaz, Kate Winslet, Jude Law and Jack Black (whom I adore) is a fab DVD for a cold winters night. Cameron Diaz simplifies from busy LA to your typical chocolate box English Village over the holiday period.
        p.s. – one bottle of baileys purchased :-)

  • This is the easiest Christmas for me.. I got my family to agree on no gifts for adults (except for something edible, drinkable, or non-material if one really was adamant on giving something) so I only have five children to wrap gifts for, and I do love giving something nice to those children. For adults I am donating money for one gift certificate for each couple, that an organization here gives to a poor family for buying food at Christmas (or to buy presents for their kids). We all have more than we need. The gift giving just didn’t make sense to me. So easy and completely stress free!!!

  • when my son was 3 months old, we had our first xmas with him. our budget was tight so we just got 2 sheets of oaktag paper (construction paper pretty much) and stamped his paint covered hand, or foot on little rectangle cards. we wrote a few sentences on each wishing the recipient a merry xmas and decorated it a bit with glitter glue and whatnot. everyone loved them, and it was very frugal.

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