5 Last-Minute Ideas for a Minimalist Christmas

5 Last-Minute Ideas for a Minimalist Christmas


Christmas is almost upon us. Most everyone has finished shopping, decorating, and planning their menu. Now it’s time to make last-minute preparations for the big day. As crunch time hits full-swing, you may think the possibility of a minimalist Christmas is quickly waving goodbye. But trust me: there are still plenty of opportunities to practice minimalism this Christmas.

We all know things pile up unexpectedly. A request for a special dish; one more present for the unexpected uncle dropping by; a holiday special on a sweater just perfect for the Christmas Eve party.

With the pressures put on this particular holiday,  it’s no wonder the actual day tends to fall flat. Memories of Christmas often consist of mounds of wrapping paper, strewn gifts, and more than just a hint of nausea after gorging on decadent foods.

Instead of letting this special day fly by in a flurry, here are five ways you can reduce waste, save money, and practice minimalism to achieve a mindful, fulfilling holiday.

5 Last-Minute Ideas for a Minimalist Christmas

1. Give Consumable + Reusable Gifts

Your surprise guests will be happy simply with a taste of Christmas dinner. But if you feel it’s absolutely necessary to buy a last-minute gift, make it something consumable and reusable, like,

  • tea that comes in a cute tin that can be repurposed;
  • a DIY sugar scrub in a mason jar (you can whip up a sugar scrub in 5 minutes using organic brown sugar, olive oil, and essential oils like cinnamon and orange!);
  • gift certificates for a restaurant or coffee shop, massage, or car wash;
  • a beautiful air-detoxifying plant;
  • a gift for their furry friend; if your guest is a dog owner, a box of treats and a dog park pass will be a big hit.

2. Don’t Over-Indulge

Growing up, we looked forward to Christmas Eve every year. We pulled out our tins of various Christmas treats, loaded our plates, and sat down to watch A Christmas Story. Christmas morning began with a big breakfast, followed by snacking on Christmas treats, and ended with a Christmas dinner that was almost as big as Thanksgiving. Typical, right?

But our bodies weren’t made to eat this way. Overeating and indulging on rich foods only leads to digestive issues, fatigue, and even guilt.

Be mindful of the food you are consuming. Don’t let Christmas be an excuse to ignore your natural eating habits; eat some ham, eat some fudge, but when your body says enough, listen. Eating a lot over the holidays has almost become an obligation — a mentality that can quickly turn gluttonous and wasteful.

Besides, preparing a smaller meal not only saves money but also means less to prepare. In turn, this leaves more time to spend with family rather than laboring all day in the kitchen.

3. Rethink Holiday Novelties

I touched on holiday consumerism in my last post. It’s easy to get caught up in the limited edition novelty items that come out during this time of year. I’ve fallen into many traps in the past, accumulating clothing, jewelry, kitchenware, music, and decorations I didn’t really want but thought would get me into the festive spirit.

These things are not necessary for experiencing a joyful Christmas and can often distract from what’s really important. However, I realize that nobody — including myself — is perfect. Sometimes you just “can’t” avoid splurging on something to boost your self-esteem or holiday cheer.  If you find yourself falling into this mentality, at least be mindful of making purchases that aren’t simply one-and-done.

Instead of choosing a red dress you know you’ll only have the courage to wear once a year, buy a black dress that can be worn all year round and pair it with a red lipstick. Go for the blue silk tie rather than the green one with the Christmas lights pattern (and for goodness’ sakes, don’t buy the one that plays music). Forage outside your own home for pine cones, evergreen twigs, and sweet huckleberry branches for decoration that feels festive but can also serve you all winter long, or make your own DIY Christmas ornaments. Go on YouTube and find Christmas playlists from Indie artists to broaden your holiday tunes rather than buying every $3 Christmas CD you find.

4. Get Creative with Wrapping

Buying cute wrapping paper is fun, but often expensive and wasteful. Who else has a box or bin somewhere in their home full of half-used wrapping paper rolls?

First, rather than use wrapping paper that contains toxic metal and can’t be recycled, use brown kraft packaging paper. Add twine, dried greenery, or a homemade Christmas ornament from #3 as a tag to spruce it up. You could also use other reusable items to “wrap” and double as a gift, such as jars, baskets, muslin, or tote bags. (Tip: Pinterest is full of ideas for this very thing! Check out my Zero Waste Christmas board for inspiration.)

5. Practice Mindfulness

Not only are many hit with the “holiday blues,” but SAD (seasonal affective disorder) can rear its ugly head during this time of year as well. Depression during the holidays often leads to overspending, overeating, and extra stress, which means all your hard work following the above tips was for nothing.

Minimalism and mindfulness go hand in hand, and a great option for battle against Christmas depression is arming yourself with a gratitude journal. Whether it’s a physical journal, a memo app on your phone, or even an alarm reminder to make you stop and take a deep breath during the busy days ahead, slow down and focus on the positives that surround you during this joy-filled time of year. I’m not suggesting this as a blank cure for holiday depression, but I have personally found it to be helpful in maintaining a sense of contentment and thankfulness during this season.

What About You?

What is your most wasteful habit during the holiday season? Let get honest with each other — let me know in the comments! I won’t tell.


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1 Comment

  1. December 17, 2018 / 10:43 am

    Wrapping paper and holiday novelties. You got me with those. I love the Kraft paper idea. Very simple and homespun.

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