This year marks the first year that Bryan and I will undergo a holiday season with a new mindset. This year, we are focused on memories and experiences rather than stuff. We’d rather give gifts to the people we love that would produce adventure and excitement rather than another coffee mug or bath soak. I’ve come up with a few ideas of what we are doing different this year and a few of the things I think we’ve done right!
What we’ve done right:
- Every Christmas Eve, we have the tradition of spending alone time eating sushi, laughing, and enjoying each other. My favorite was the first year we were married and we bought sushi for 15 bucks from Mr. Nguyen, a vendor out of the grocery store, and sat on the floor around the coffee table. Some of the best memories that only cost 15 dollars!
- Another thing we’ve done right is spending the night at Bryan’s aunt and uncle’s house every Christmas Eve night. We spend the night doing all of their traditions (reading the Christmas story, getting Santa’s cookies ready…) and then put the little girls to bed. I just love sharing this special day with them! I’d rather sleep in a basement and wake up to the screaming excitement of two little girls than get any present!
We’ve always cherished the idea of spending time together and enjoying family and friends more than giving gifts, but this year we are going even further. Instead of feeling pressure to give really well thought out presents since we actually have the money this year, we are putting our money into more creative outlets. Here are some ideas of the things we are thinking of doing for our families and friends:
- Gift cards to restaurants for family dinners or date nights.
- Gift card to go towards a plane ticket to a friend who wants to travel after the New Year.
- Letters of appreciation to those who mean a lot.
- Paintings created by good friends to help support their work.
- Donations to ministries/organizations in the name of friends or family members (Kiva, Blood:Water Mission, Compassion International, International Justice Mission, or Love 146).
- Magazine subscription to a really great magazine that inspires you to get up and do something (Relevant, Natural Health).
- Gift cards to yoga classes, art classes, or different interests.
- Scarves, bags or other goodies that are made by women in third world countries learning to make money for themselves (World Women Work, Heavenly Treasures, Blue Dango).
- Fair trade coffee that promotes a good livelihood for those involved in the process of creating it (Check out Global Exchange to find out what coffee to get).
- Books are always a great idea, especially the digital kind that don’t waste paper! (Check out The Art of Being Minimalist and Minimalist Business by Everett Bogue, Smalltopia and Simply Car Free by Tammy Strobel, or Inside Out Simplicity and Simplify by Josh Becker.)
- Also, Dusti at Minimalist Adventures has some great ideas in her new post.
Another thing that Bryan and I are doing right this year is getting away. Not on a plane to shuttle back and forth to family for two days, but into the mountains with just each other, our dog, and our backpacks to stay in a yurt. I had the idea for his birthday in October, so it’s a combined birthday/Christmas gift for our little family. We’ll spend Christmas Eve and Christmas day enjoying each other’s company away from the craziness of the holiday in the city.
There are so many creative things to do for the people we love. We don’t have to settle for the mediocre and buy our families more of the same stuff they already have in their homes. We can still show them we love them by giving them even more meaningful gifts this year: the gifts of time, adventure, and helping others in their name.