I remember the first time I heard about minimalism — I was instantly drawn in by the image of white bed sheets and succulent-lined walls. I loved how it strips away all the distracting clutter in our lives and puts focus on what we truly value, and it immediately brought me a sense of peace. And while I love applying this practice to my life year-round, I especially recommend it during the holidays.
This year is hard for many people for a lot of different reasons, meaning there's no better time to focus on the simpler things that bring people joy and happiness. Amid the annual gift-buying frenzy, we easily forget the meaning of true value, what it feels like to give from the heart, and how important it is to make our actions sustainable. The minimalist mindset can help to guide us away from the lust of consumerism and back toward meaningful gift-giving. Here are my top five tips to having a minimalist holiday with a lot of meaning while still decreasing your environmental impact.
1. Wrap Your Gifts in Recycled Paper Bags
Everyone loves a brown paper package tied up with string, and the environment will certainly love you for it, too (not to mention, this totally fits the minimalist aesthetic). Did you know that most wrapping paper ends up in the landfill? The majority of it can't be recycled, and even if it can be, it often isn't. Let's try to be more mindful this year. Each time you go to the store and forget to bring your own bags, simply ask for paper instead of plastic, then keep your bags and use them to wrap your gifts into cute paper parcels. To wrap a box with a paper shopping bag, start by taking off the handles and cutting along all the creases (this opens up the bag so it can lie flat). Then simply place the gift on the logo side of the paper and wrap it so the outside is plain brown paper!
2. Follow the "Rule of Four"
If you are going to be giving anyone in your circle multiple gifts this year, try sticking to the rule of four, which is: something you want, something you need, something to wear, and something to read. It's easy to get carried away and feel like we have to cover the whole living room floor with gifts, but remember that's not what the holidays are really about. Minimalism is all about quality over quantity and the thought and meaning of the gift. It's about giving a gift that will be held onto for a long time and really used rather than giving multiple, less-meaningful gifts that will sooner or later be forgotten about.
3. Buy Local
This is one of the best ways to make your gifts more unique and meaningful while simultaneously spreading love during the holiday season. Each dollar you spend is a vote as to what sort of world you want to live in, and supporting local businesses ensures they will stay around. And this doesn't mean you can't still shop online! When you do, just choose sites like Etsy or go straight to the provider rather than purchasing the items through large corporations.
4. Gift an Experience
A key idea in the minimalist movement is the importance of collecting memories over things. Give the gift of an experience this year by planning a cute little getaway trip for your parents or paying for them to go on a wine testing tour when it's safe to do so. Sign them up for a cooking class date night, or get your sister the singing lesson she's always wanted.
You know those coffee grounds you throw away every morning? Turn them into an all-natural coffee scrub or face mask to stuff the stockings with this year. What about those glass salsa jars you always throw away? Use them to make cute little succulent planters. There are so many things we can repurpose that we throw away on a daily basis. Try getting creative and turning those items into gifts rather than landfill contributions.