minimalism & gift giving
my wrapping theme for this year
I went festive gift shopping and enjoyed it.
I know. Not what you expected to read from me, a self-proclaimed minimalist with a low tolerance for shopping, is it? I’m a little surprised too, but I’m in a groove and flowing with it. I’ve still maintained many of my methods such as – avoiding advertising; only shopping at stores with a good website to allow pre-browsing; and for the silly season, getting in extra early to avoid the manic-state that seems to overcome some shops (and indeed shoppers!). I’ve written about this time of the year before and what is most important to me. In 2011 I asked my family to try a Christmas with no presents. And it wasn’t fair on them. The minimalist journey is mine and in our home, it’s not up to me to ask others to miss out on rituals that they enjoy once a year. After the no gifts celebration we talked about how the gesture of giving was missed by some. In the past my grandmother determined such things, but now it is my mum and I who do. So we brought gift-giving back.
My family has always had a moderate approach to the season anyway, particularly once you know who stopped dropping down the chimney. There is a focus on time and shared meals together with a spending cap on gifts for immediate family and anyone we’re seeing that day (we’ve always loved inviting affectionately-termed Christmas orphans to join us). The spending limit is a great way of keeping the day angst-free given that no-one finds themselves feeling uncomfortable from a disproportionate amount spent. Because the upfront and honest approach is so effective, I’ve also shared a list of what I need this year so that if they wish, people can buy things that are guaranteed a useful place in my home. Homemade gifts are encouraged and enjoyed too. As are experiences and promises. We pull up chairs around the pile, presents are opened, many kisses and hugs given and laughs shared. Then we gather around the buffet, pile fresh food on our plates and sit around chatting. After which we walk, swim or laze about enjoying the company. Gift giving is a part of the day, but materialism is not the focus.
It’s a reminder of a lesson this half-decade journey has taught me – sometimes minimalism is about finding a sustainable balance rather than the absolute absence of something. It’s the recognition of priorities, setting parameters and awareness of spending habits that is powerful here. Some 5 years ago I was able to spend a day wandering the shops without purpose to merely kill time. Now, in just 3 stores I ticked off my list and smiled to myself as I purchased thoughtful gifts. I now look forward to the smiles on their faces as they either rip or gently pull apart the pretty paper and find what’s inside – my love and a gift that is enough.