The hunt for gifts is already in full swing, the search for the perfect Christmas tree has begun, and the preparations for the annual consumer orgy are underway. Stop! Breath! And take a moment. Christmas goes without stress. Here are some ideas for adding minimalism to Christmas.
The Advent season could actually be a contemplative, cozy and happy time. The end of the year is approaching, it is winter, it gets dark early, one looks forward to the days off. And everything could actually go a little slower than usual. But mostly the opposite is true: the pre-Christmas period means stress.
Because we ‘have to’ buy suitable gifts for all friends and relatives and pack them decoratively, send out Christmas cards, decorate the house for Christmas, bake at least ten different types of cookies, buy gingerbread and stollen in stock, squeeze through Christmas markets, drink as much mulled wine as possible, Let us look at Christmas parties, get and set up a newly grown and not too bushy Christmas tree, buy the Christmas roast and prepare it with at least five side dishes, sing traditional Christmas carols, look forward to gifts … and then we are happy when it’s all over again.
Christmas without stress
In truth, of course, we don’t have to do any of this. We can easily decide not to participate in the Christmas consumer frenzy and collective stress.
Those who consume consciously all year round can do so at Christmas too! You don’t have to give something to everyone you know. No one needs kitschy Christmas decorations and energy-guzzling fairy lights. Neither a Christmas tree from the hardware store nor a roast goose on Christmas Eve. Those who manage to free themselves from the idea of the perfect Christmas Eve (not least generated by advertising) can actually enjoy the Christmas season with their loved ones.
No1 Give away homemade items
To everyone who is tired of expensive, stressful shopping trips: Christmas is possible without consumerism. The people you really want to give something to – and if you are completely honest, there are not that many – you make a joy with homemade little things. That is personal and at the same time sets an example against superfluous consumption.
Tip: You have the least stress if you produce your Christmas gifts in series, so to speak, and give the same thing to several people – this works well with gifts from the kitchen such as jam, spreads or cookies, but also with homemade jewellery or care products like scrubs or lip balms.
No2 Give time for Christmas
Even more minimalistic than gifts you have made yourself – and often even more personal – is to give away shared experiences. Because time is the most precious thing we have for most of us.
Invite you to a home-cooked meal, organize an excursion or other joined-up activity, such as a hike, a sauna evening or a concert of your choice. None of this can gather dust on the shelf.
No3 Less stress: Break out of the gift cycle
We get pressured by the belief that other people expect gifts. But it can be just as uncomfortable when someone gives you something even though you don’t expect it. To avoid getting unnecessary stuff for Christmas (and having to show yourself grateful for it): Either explicitly explain to your friends and relatives that you do not want any presents and why – or tell them specifically what you want. This also means less stress for the giver.
No4 Only give away what is really needed at Christmas
The previous tip also applies the other way round: Find out from the people you want to give something for Christmas to see if there is something they really need or want. This will avoid gifts that start to collect dust right after the holidays.
Alternative: Give away things that are used up instead of piling up, for example homemade groceries or cosmetics or tickets for events.
Often a good gift idea for people who don’t want anything in particular: a nice drinking bottle for on the go – that is also an incentive to do without plastic bottles.
No5 No mountains of gifts for children
All the resolutions of not giving (or wanting to receive) too many unnecessary gifts often fail when it comes to children. And then there is another huge mountain of gifts under the tree, from which only exactly one gift remains interesting for longer than five minutes. Why not think carefully about and choose this one present beforehand and save yourself the rest? To put the brakes on wild grandparents: It’s best to make a very clear suggestion for a good present. Durable wooden toys or beautiful children’s books, for example, are better than plastic junk.
No6 Donations as gifts
Here is another gift idea: Instead of objects, you can also give away donations. Many non-profit organizations offer donation certificates or greeting cards as gifts: you donate in the name of the recipient, so to speak.
No7 It doesn’t have to be a Christmas roast
Even or especially at Christmas you can critically question traditions: Why do you actually eat goose or duck on Christmas Eve? And can’t it also be something else? For example, you don’t usually have to order the ingredients for a vegetable tart, risotto or veggie roulade weeks in advance – like the Christmas goose – and they don’t have to cook in the oven for hours.
Thinking about what you could cook together and then standing in the kitchen together is much nicer than sticking rigidly to culinary traditions. There are plenty of ideas for vegetarian Christmas recipes on the Internet, for example at Eat-smarter, küchengötter.de or ProVeg.
No8 Invitation to your home instead of the Christmas market
Christmas markets can be beautiful and cozy, but quite often they can also be crowded and kitschy. And isn’t a mulled wine evening with good friends at home much more relaxed than drinking cheap alcohol from cups made in China in the crowd and slowly losing that feeling in your toes?
No9 No stress in the kitchen: cook and bake together
Say goodbye to the ambition of having to manage the perfect feast or the perfect place for the whole family all by yourself. You don’t have to stand lonely in the kitchen for hours and get bubbles while stirring while “Last Christmas” is playing on the radio for the 35th time.
Just cook or bake this year with your friends, family or guests. Nobody has to be solely responsible for the menu (and for whether it tastes good or not), cooking together can be really fun and afterwards everyone has the feeling that they have really earned the meal.
No10 Minimalist Christmas decorations: less is more
Decoration may be pretty and atmospheric, but it is absolutely not a necessity. And even if you like to decorate for Christmas: You can safely save yourself the purchase of cheap jewellery items such as those available in discounters and decorative stores
Home-made Christmas decorations made from natural and recycled materials are more beautiful, healthier and more minimalistic. There are also good alternatives for the classic Christmas tree.
No11 Share your time: Christmas volunteering
Christmas Eve is traditionally celebrated with a good meal together with family or friends. But not everyone has the opportunity to celebrate like this. If you want to avoid the traditional Christmas party and / or use your time wisely, you can do so, for example, as a voluntary helper at celebrations or food distribution for the homeless or refugees, in old people’s homes, animal shelters or other social institutions.
Find out about opportunities in your area!
No12 Offer and accept help
To relieve others from stress: offer your help! Help with baking, cooking, tidying up, decorating trees, or whatever you can. If you are the host, feel free to accept help instead of getting stressed – this way everyone can enjoy being together even more.
The most important thing in all of this: Take the brakes at Christmas and slow down. The Christmas season should also be used for rest and relaxation – stressing yourself out on the holidays does not make sense.