Lifestyle, One Pot Living

Conscious Consuming and Minimalism at Christmas

By  La Shell Reid Hoilett

Conscious Consuming and Minimalism at Christmas

Gone are the days when I spend half of my salary on Christmas gifts that people will more than likely never use. I’ve bought really expensive gifts for children who play with them until the novelty wears off and they never see the light of day again. What about all the decorating and splurging on Christmas food and alcohol? Or the new drapes and furniture?

In Trinidad & Tobago, and by extension the rest of the Caribbean, the Christmas season is heavily celebrated with lots of food, music and spending money. We love to show off to our neighbors that we can repaint our already perfect walls, buy new drapes, stock up on food and snacks to last for months, buy the new trendy toys for our children and host the biggest Christmas lime (party). Not only do we spend lots of money, we also create a lot of waste.

Of course this a blanket statement and doesn’t go for all as we don’t all celebrate Christmas here. Even if we do, we don’t all celebrate it the same way. But what I can say is that generally, we have a culture of over spending for Christmas.

I am not exempted from this equation. Christmas is my season. I love it and look forward to it every year. Over the past few years though, I have reengineered how I take on the holiday season. I ask myself some pertinent tough questions and the answers justify how I spend.

I aim to be a conscious consumer generally, and now, during the Christmas season. The temptation is enormous but I think I have it under control. Here’s how we can all work on being conscious consumers this Christmas.

Food

Trust me, I know how hard it is to not over do it. I love love love Christmas food and I come from a background where food around Christmas time was overflowing and you were expected to indulge (in a good way of course). Not to mention when you go to holiday parties and family get togethers, the food is boundless. Don’t fall into the trap of eating everything you see. Over indulgence is never good. Everything in moderation is key. I always try to remember to eat so that I’m not hungry, rather than eating to be full. It also sets a good tone for the young ones looking on.

Gift giving

Materialism is a hell of a thing. We need to have stuff to be happy. We need to give stuff to be happy. Big companies know of our insatiable desire to give and receive things so they wrap themselves up nicely and mesmerize us. They present everything we think we need. And we fall for it. Hence the grandiose sales and deals. Imagine people line up for hours in the cold, behave like caged animals and kill (yes literally take someone’s life) each other for a TV or barbie doll. It’s something I can and probably will never understand.

When giving gifts this year, focus on gifts that the giftee will actually use and appreciate (like these dryer balls). If you must buy something, choose local craft and specialty markets and websites like Etsy. That way everyone wins. The community benefits and the giftee gets something that was made with great thought and is probably customized just for them. Also edible gifts are always appreciated. How about a jar of coffee, bottle of wine or a homemade cake?

Nothing is better than giving time or an experience, though. Experience grows old with you and it is something that you can share forever. Concert (and fete) tickets, a weekend trip or a tree, so that they can nurture and watch it grow are all good ideas. For kids, you can use the Four Gift rule where if you must buy something, you can buy something they want, they need, can wear and can read. Don’t forget to use your imagination!

Spending

Avoid big sales (like Black Friday) like the plague. I can guarantee they’re not offering you anything you need anyway. Reuse decorations from previous years. I know for some this is hard as they’d love their house to look refreshed every year but think about what happens to the items you’re not using. Where does that end up? Some don’t decorate at all in order to save on money and eventual waste, but if that’s not your thing (like me, I love a decorated house), then try to spend and waste as little as possible. I bought decorations one year and will not buy any until these are at their wits end. As mentioned above, buy sensible and sustainable gifts. Nothing that will keep running you a hefty penny long after the holidays. If you have to spend anything, spend time.

Giving back

Someone is always in need. Christmas time can be particularly hard on some families that may be having a hard time. What about those that don’t have a family? Instead of receiving gifts, have something donated in your name to charity. You can also participate without spending a dime. Give your time. There are organizations that visit children’s and elderly homes to bring Christmas cheer by singing and just engaging with residents. I think we all know a family or someone who knows a family that would welcome a box of groceries with open arms. If that’s not your thing, connect with a trusted charitable organization and donate what you can afford. It’s a million times better than gifting a cologne or wallet to someone that would never use it.

To be a minimalist this Christmas doesn’t mean that you have to go without. It means we are being conscious consumers, decreasing our carbon footprint in some way and simply focusing on what’s truly important.

What does your Christmas look like? Are you a minimalist? Or are you in an in-between like me?

…..thanks for stopping by!

P.S ~ Are You Giving Back? and 20 Simple Ways to Declutter your Home



You may also enjoy:


  Comments: 29

29 responses to “Conscious Consuming and Minimalism at Christmas”

  1. Great post! Christmas is really a lovely holiday season, but I would also prefer it if it were more about spending time together, being happy about how fortunate we are, than about getting and giving stuff. We don’t do christmas gifts, so that helps, but we will have food, of course.

  2. Kate K. says:

    This is something I have to remind myself of every year! This year in particular I’m trying to focus on giving gifts that are more practical, or experiences they can remember, rather than high-dollar trendy items.

  3. Tara says:

    Very interesting post – we definitely all celebrate differently. It is easy to forget what the season is ultimately about and getting lost in just finding the perfect gifts.

  4. Ah such a lovely post to read in the lead up to Christmas. I actually have a similar post scheduled (with a vegan twist) for my next date. It’s great to hear people trying to share a thoughtful message instead of one about money. I LOVED the four points about buying for kids… I had never heard it before. It’s so clever. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Aimee Anne says:

    Great post! I agree these are important to focus on for sure. I try to make the focus family and friends, although eating good food is high too hehhe
    Thanks for sharing!

  6. Vox says:

    I just did a post on how folks want to just skip Thanksgiving and go straight to the consumer frenzy of Christmas. I agree with you; we need to make that we are mindful of our humanity this holiday season and not simply consume, consume, consume. Thanks for sharing!

  7. Andrea says:

    Christmas is one of my favorite holidays but every year it becomes a little overwhelming with all the expectations for expensive gifts as kids get older. I am In between a minimalist but trying to transition to being a minimalist because things are not what makes people happy.

  8. Tiffany says:

    These are great tips! We can easily get so far from what the holiday is intended to celebrate. The Wisemen brought presents they could afford or had, but were their best. There is no talk of them overextending themselves or buying presents on credit!

  9. Lisa says:

    While I don’t consider myself a minimalist, I think a meaningful gift is more important than the quantity of gifts overall. In the past few years, I haven’t done a whole lot for Christmas, but that is mostly because I live in China and I’m not with the majority of my friends and family. Plus, Christmas isn’t a huge deal in China. I agree with you that sometimes the holiday spending can get out of control.

  10. Emily says:

    I need to embrace this a little more. I find myself buying things I don’t need, when I could be giving back more to others. Thank you for the little reality check this holiday season!

  11. Renee says:

    Yes. I just wrote a similar post and I love to hear the opinions of those that are similar to mine! (and that aren’t of course!) “…being conscious consumers, decreasing our carbon footprint in some way and simply focusing on what’s truly important.” Yes. Yes. Yes.

  12. Dagmara says:

    I am loving this post. I goes in hand with something I shared a few weeks ago on my blog when I referred to overindulgence. We eat too much and buy stuff we and our friends don’t really need or want. There is this business in the air right before the holidays when people start a frenzy of gift buying, and eating and drinking and just overall indulging. Often regretting it just a few hours later. I think that if we slowed down and focused on what really matter we would recognize that we already have plenty, we just need to enjoy what is already there. Experience love and friendship we share with people close to us. Thank you for sharing!

  13. Bryan Carey says:

    Materialism is an important concern and I am guilty of it myself, at least in the past. I can remember one year lavishing my two girls (they were 4 and 5 years old at the time) with dozens of presents for each. I found that they forgot about most of them in a matter of about 2 weeks. Now, I try to focus on, like you said, more meaningful gifts that they will remember and cherish.

  14. Jeanette Radmall says:

    Wonderful! When people ask what i want for Christmas i tell them time with friends and family. If they must purchase me something i prefer they buy an experience.

  15. Lance says:

    I agree with you so much. Our Christmas gift-giving has become more about gifting meaningful heirlooms or experiences. We have gifted painting experiences, vacations, heirloom jewelry, and massages. Great idea to buy on Etsy or other handcrafted sites to benefit all.

  16. Shannon says:

    This is great! I have been trying to shop more mindfully and I inform my family members to do the same when it comes to my children. I love getting others perspectives on this, especially from other places around the world! Thank you for sharing.

  17. Martin says:

    This is a great post. Think we all need reminding that Christmas is about families and not a show of money and wealth.

  18. Sarah Camille says:

    Great post! I used to volunteer with my family every Christmas for the Salvation Army, and you’re making me realize that’s a tradition I should start with mine. 🙂

  19. Ali Betts says:

    Such a great read and reminder that we dont have to over do it! I have been living minimally for almost a year now and it has been incredible!

  20. Erin says:

    I really enjoy reading the perspectives of others and definitely agree that we must steer away from materialism. After all, gifts are not the Reason for the season! Thank you so much for sharing!

  21. Hannah Rooks says:

    I love how you incorporated minimalism with the holidays which the media makes it out to be the opposite! Regarding the gift giving, I recently read a blog post about giving experiences/memories rather than things. This Lines up perfectly!

    http://www.therookiewife.com

  22. I feel for you. The whole keeping up with the neighbours can be such a financial and emotional drain. And the waste! Oh my goodness. I like my holidays simple and focussed on the important things.

  23. Lisa says:

    I really enjoyed this post…I’ve been really conscious of overspending and have been trying to live as minimally as possible when it comes to having “stuff”. I’m not going to lie, I’m totally falling into the Black Friday trap here, though in South Africa it is absolutely nothing like it is in other countries!

  24. Your post truly depicts what Christmas is all about!!! LOVE IT!!!

  25. […] not one for mass shopping as you can tell from my post on minimalism at Christmas, but I still love giving a good, practical gift during the holidays. […]

  26. […] ~ Conscious Consuming and Minimalism at Christmas and Are You Living Out your Childhood […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *