The Complete Guide to Christmas: From a Minimalist

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Christmas is an awkward time of year to be a minimalist. With so much emphasis being put on gift-giving, it's definitely a quandary for those of us who genuinely do not want to get more stuff...

 This will actually be my first year celebrating Christmas as a minimalist. As a result, I was a bit unsure how to approach the whole gift-giving thing. How do I avoid getting a lot of stuff I will never use? Do I actually feel right asking for gifts at all, right now?

Through careful consideration and deep contemplation, I have compiled a list of five ways to maintain good habits through the Christmas season.

Five Tips for a Minimalist Christmas

1. Make a highly-specific Wish List. Keep it short, and include items you genuinely need (a new slow-cooker since your old one broke, replacement bike tires, etc) or actually want (a specific pair of shoes, a video camera, etc).

2. Ask for a highly-specific Wish List. If you don't want to contribute to the world-wide clutter, ask exactly what the person in question actually wants. If you want to be sneaky about it, ask their friends or family.

3. Give experience gifts. If you'd rather not give things at all, experience gifts are an excellent idea. Give them a gift-card to their favorite restaurant, and set up a date for you to go together. Give them a "coupon" for one trip to the movies. Your time is possibly the most valuable thing you have to give.

4. Charity gift catalogs and other ways to give. Take this time to support a local charity, sponsor a child, or "purchase" something out of a gift-catalog in lieu of traditional presents. Some great examples are Gospel for Asia's Christmas Catalog, A21's  Christmas Gifts, and your local Salvation Army Angel Tree.

5. Focus on and emphasize other aspects of Christmas. Make a point to tell the Nativity story, or read an Advent devotional in the days before. Go caroling, or host a charity drive. Create new traditions for your family that don't revolve around physical things.


Let's not forget the friends and family, in this situation. If you have a minimalist loved-one, than these next five tips are for you!

Five Tips for Loving Your Minimalist on Christmas 

1. Pay attention to their Wish List. If they have taken the time to give you a specific list of what they'd like, it's probably genuine. 

2. Something you want, something you need, something to wear, and something to read. This is a guide that a lot of families use for Christmas, but it can be adapted to almost any relationship. You could replace "wear" with "eat" if they don't want clothes. Maybe you could collaborate with a few friends so your minimalist gets an item from each category.

3. Give experience gifts. Minimalists tend to value time even more than the majority, so giving us a little bit of yours will mean a lot. A few examples of an experience gift would be a gift-card to their favorite restaurant, a punch card (or similar thing) for a favorite activity or class, and "date night" coupons.

4. Be intentional. Much like they value time, minimalists value intention and sincerity. If they can tell you've put thought into their gift, they will probably like it all the more.

5. Respect their wishes. Whether or not you really "get it," please try to respect what they've requested. If that means no physical gifts, than the best thing to do is honor that.


What's on your Christmas list this year? Share it with us in the comment section below, over at my Facebook page, or email it to us at!

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  1. How have I NOT heard of this Matthew West song?! Love it! Love the lists here! This is great!!! For nest go around, you could take these lists and put them into PDF checklists and offer them as freebies :)

  2. I really enjoyed your tips to serve the minimalist this Christmas. Blessings!