The holidays are fast approaching, which means many folks are in full-blown consumer mode, maxing out credit cards, stuffing car trunks and loading up online shopping carts ... mostly with stuff that's likely to be forgotten once the new year arrives.
STUFF. In addition to upping our stress levels, stuff takes our attention off the things that really matter. Stuff takes up space, space that's better utilized for other things — love, affection, joy, gratitude. We all know stuff isn't what the holidays are all about, yet many of us fall into the trap of consumerism every year anyway.
Adopting a minimalist attitude toward this month's shopping madness can be an amazing way to ease holiday stress.
So, here are a few ways to avoid the trap of MORE MORE MORE this season:
1. Refuse to buy gifts just for the sake of buying gifts.
Don't buy gifts out of obligation. If you really want to show your loved ones you care, do something thoughtful. Gifts don't have to be material goods; they can be gifts of time, of energy, of affection. If a gift is a must (a Secret Santa exchange, a boss, etc.), make it something useful. Buy them a gift card to a restaurant they frequent, or cook them dinner. Or, opt for an experiential gift. Memories last a lot longer than the short-lived thrill of getting a new toy.
2. Make getting rid of stuff into a game.
Before you bring new items into your home via holiday gifts, play a game to help get rid of everything you don't need. One strategy is called the Minimalism Game. On each day of the month, you ditch that number of things. If you start December 1, by the end of the month you'll have gotten rid of 496 things. And what better time of year to donate goods to those in need?
3. Simplify the gift-giving process.
Instead of buying everything on your kid's Christmas list (or writing a 10-page list of your own), simplify. Have your child, or significant other, or all members of your family write short, simple lists. Making the gifts about something bigger is always a brilliant way to celebrate the season.
4. Lower your expectations.
Minimalism isn't just about what you're buying other people — it's also about your own expectations. Let people know you'd prefer they make donations to your favorite charity instead of giving you gifts, or put together a super-short wish list of items you know you'll value and use. Decide to only exchange one item with your significant other or close family members. Remind yourself that the holidays are about love and gratitude, not filling your storage space with more stuff you'll never use.
5. Consider everything you buy.
With every item you think about purchasing (for yourself or anyone else), ask the question, will this bring value? If the answer is no, put it down and back away. The only things worth buying at those that bring real value into someone's life. Otherwise, it's just meaningless clutter.