Christmas creates a strange combination of joy and dread in me.
For most of us it’s such a magical time of year – a time of human connection, good food and immense excitement from small humans. But then there’s this nagging undertone of expectation, pressure and consumerism that comes along for the ride.
I’ve been on a journey to simplify our family’s approach to Christmas. It’s not about cancelling the fun, it’s just about being more conscious of the choices we’re making and reconnecting with what’s important in a way that’s better for our own wellbeing and the wellbeing of the planet.
Here are a few of the things I’ve learnt along the way.
Breathe: It’s so easy to get caught up in the hype and temptation of Christmas marketing and expectation. I’ve found my most powerful solution is to just breathe – to take a moment to gain perspective. I make a list of things that we need on my phone and stick to it. I still feel that last minute pang of wanting to grab a couple of extra stocking fillers or to squeeze in an extra trip to the supermarket – but when I pause, I realise that I already have enough.
Decorations: I love looking to nature to zhuzh up the house at Christmas time. A simple vase of hydrangeas, a foraged wreath or some hanging herb bunches look ridiculously impressive and remind me of how damn awesome Mother Nature is.
Less is more: In our extended family we’ve simplified who gets gifts, the quantity and also the value. For our children’s gifts, I love the concept of getting them ‘something they want, something they need, something to wear and something to read’ as a way to keep things on track.
- Experiences: Art classes, movie tickets, coffee dates, kayaking adventures – in our family we love collecting memories instead of things.
- Keep a list: I always have a list running on my phone of things my kids need so I have ideas at the ready when I’m asked.
- Pass it on: We have older cousins who pass down toys they have outgrown – it’s a really lovely way to normalise second-hand gift-giving.
- DIY: Each year I choose a simple home-made gift to make in bulk . I can churn enough limoncello, vanilla essence, chai latte mix or sugar scrub out of my kitchen to cover all of my gifting bases in less than an hour. It’s sooooo much more enjoyable than a trip to the shopping mall.
- Wrapping: I’m a big fan of reusing things I already have for gift wrapping. Paper bags or old magazines are super easy and can be fancied up with some string and foraged items from the garden. I also love Furoshiki (the art of Japanese fabric wrapping) as a way to reuse offcuts of fabric or op-shop scarves.
Food: Sharing food is such a special part of Christmas – the catch is that it’s super easy to get carried away and buy too much. In fact we end up throwing away a lot more food during the festive season. I always make sure I stick to my shopping list, try to go for local and seasonal options and have a big stash of pizza bases and wraps on hand to use up any leftovers.
Acts of kindness: From dropping off bunches of flowers and home baking in our neighbourhood to donating children’s gifts or food – acts of kindness have become part of our family Christmas tradition and are hands down one of the simplest ways to gain perspective and reconnect.
This festive season, whenever you feel the pressure of expectation or the need to buy more, just take a breath. It’s not about going without, it’s about reconnecting with what’s important and not getting swept up in the frenzy of expectation.