Wherever you are in the pursuit of simplicity, we can probably agree that gift giving around Christmas can include occasional moments of stress. Whether it’s searching for the perfect gift, giving up and getting something — anything — just to cross it off the list, or trying to communicate that you want less this year, I’ve put together a list of five things that help ease Christmas prep and encourage mindful giving.
1. Communicate. Each year looks a little different for us in terms of how much we would like to receive, so we try to communicate our desires well in advance. It might feel strange to set a limit or make a request, but you’re in charge of how much stuff enters your space so there’s nothing wrong with letting others know what would be a blessing. There may be an adjustment period for family, so love what they give you, keep communicating graciously, and be patient with the process. Also, keep flexing that giving muscle! Giving feels amazing and can demonstrate love. Choose gifts from a wish list or give consumables or experiences.
2. Exchange gift Lists. It might seem like lists drain the creativity out of giving, but they reduce guesswork and encourage mindful giving. Feel free to request lists from family members — another way to foster communication. My requests are specific and include things that I know will add value like consumables, experiences, and things that will upgrade or replace for something I already own.
3. Consumables and experiences are great gifts. Who doesn’t love homemade treats, nice shampoo/conditioner, soap, flowers, wreathes, candles, lip balm, or essential oils? I request fancy baking vanilla every year — it doesn’t disappoint! Experiences like movie passes, date nights, or a trip to the spa, are great gifts and make memories. Instead of physical gifts for my 30th birthday recently, my husband gave me a day of events (private architectural tour and baking class at my favorite bakery with friends). I felt so loved and celebrated.
4. Keep an easy list of gift ideas. If I’m not prepared, it’s common for me to draw a blank when I need spur-of-the-moment gift ideas. So I came up with two easy ways to prepare myself for those situations: 1) take quick pictures of things my family members like while browsing and 2) keep a private Pinterest board and Amazon.com wish list to save gift ideas. When I need to come up with a thoughtful gift, I quickly scroll through my pictures or online lists for intentional ideas.
5. It’s ok to let go of unused gifts. What do you do with that gift you haven’t used? I highly recommend the practice of giving it away rather than letting it collect dust. The memories that surround it will stay with you long after the item is removed — so love it for a time, take a picture to help you remember the person or thought behind the gift, and let go of it. I typically let unused gifts stick around for 3-6 months and then donate if unused.
Let me know how you’re preparing for the season of giving! Do you use Christmas lists? What’s the most intentional gift you’ve received? Feel free to share your thoughts or ideas in the comments below! I’m always on the lookout for new ways to simplify Christmas and restore the joy and purpose of the season.