I always used to think that people who limited their Christmas spending were either lacking in generosity or lacking in imagination. I thought buying things was an indication of how much I cared about my family and an expression of how well I knew them. Every year we would laugh at the stack of gifts around the tree like we just couldn’t stop ourselves from showering each other with stuff.
Every year someone would say “I thought we were cutting back” as we each amassed a mini mountain of new things and stuffed black plastic sacks full of waste wrapping paper that never got recycled.
But this year it’s changing and it feels like the natural culmination of every Black Friday email in my inbox, every Christmas gift guide blog post and every moment I wasted this year picking up discarded stuff off the floor of our house.
Last month someone in my family dared to suggest that we set a budget of £10 for gifts and after the brief wistful feeling that adulthood had arrived and practicality had finally overtaken magic at Christmas, I felt nothing but relief. Relief that it won’t cost so much, relief that I have permission to buy simple things for those I struggle to buy for (yes socks will be making an appearance) and relief that I won’t be taking home well-intentioned gifts that I just don’t need.
It will be slightly different for the children of course, but not totally. They are both at a point in life where we are setting expectations for future Christmases and I am determined that they will get just one gift from us under the tree (and a stocking full of things from Father Christmas) This means that beyond what Santa gives them in the morning, both Theo and Alice will have at most, half a dozen gifts from family, which still frankly seems a lot, but is a number which I hope will allow them to appreciate and enjoy what they receive. Theo’s moderate aspirations this year mean his one gift from us only cost £30.
There are so many really good reasons for cutting back on what we give at Christmas and this article says it all so eloquently, but in particular the point that I keep thinking of is number eight, clutter. Most of us own more things than we really have space for and as the article says….
“Why do we want to force clutter on our loved ones, oblige them to find a spot in their already
cluttered homes for this gift we’ve given them, so they won’t offend us when we come to visit?”
Of course it’s about the waste of money and the vast quantities of packaging and time spent shopping, but the clutter factor is the one I keep coming back to.
During 2016 I’ve toyed with ideas linked to minimalism and zero waste, but I have struggled to condense what it is I’m doing into a blog post. Is it frugality, sustainability or minimalism I’m aiming for? I think it’s probably parts of all three, but mostly I think it’s just simplicity.
Next year I’m going to attempt to produce a regular schedule of content for my youtube channel and as part of that I want to document my journey towards simplicity, including cutting back on household waste, my capsule wardrobe and the constant cycle of decluttering. If you’re not already subscribed, please follow me there.
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