The season of gift guides, lavish meals, illuminated high streets and hectic calendars has well and truly begun. Within a whirlwind of a few short weeks, for many families, there will be so much to do in order for them to enjoy their best Christmas to date.
There’s the food shopping, card writing and sending, decorating, Christmas partying, present buying and wrapping, socialising and how could we forget, getting everything done and dusted at work to enjoy your Christmas break without anything looming over your shoulder.
And for a lot of people, that’s often seen as the bare minimum.
In 2016, Nationwide released data which showed that on average, people in the UK spend £645 on presents during the Christmas season.
Add that to the £183 which goes on food and drink, £83 on a tree and decorations, and £109 on parties and going out, it soon adds up to be a rather significant expense.
Especially when we consider that when asked, what people value most about Christmas is the time with family, the food and the essence of ‘feeling Christmassy’.
I am hoping to break this cycle this year, and therefore I will be celebrating a simpler Christmas. A more mindful, minimal festive season, filled with only the things which bring joy.
If you feel like doing it too, follow any (or all) of my top four ways to have a simpler, more meaningful Christmas.
Sort out your priorities for Christmas
It’s important to decide what is important to you when it comes to Christmas. For me, it’s to gather together friends, family and loved ones and enjoy delicious food, delightful stories and each other’s company.
More than anything, I am seeking a feeling of warmth and happiness. Of contentment. Or what our Danish friends would call ‘Hyggelit’.
It doesn’t need to be on one day either. It can be over a series of simple, festive events, so that you can see all the people who matter most to you.
Be mindful of your consumption
Christmas is the season for giving, but it doesn’t hurt to be a little more conscious about the things you choose to invest in.
Over the Christmas period, 30% more waste is created than at any other time of the year according to the London Cleaning System.
Before you decide to buy more decorations, when you have a loft full. Before you snap up that impulse novelty wine glass hat. Before you buy someone that last minute present because you think you should, consider how long your purchase is going to be used for.
We are a nation of consumers, and each year we are spending more and more at Christmas. This year, I am going to be cutting back on the novelty. Instead, I will feel festive by attending more seasonal events, drinking wine with loved ones around a warm fire, and constantly playing Christmas music on repeat.
This year, invest in your priorities. Good food, good company, and good memories, and try to avoid indulging in the novelty elf slippers which will be out for recycling by December 27th.
Buy more mindful gifts
If you are going to be buying presents for your nearest and dearest, think about treating them to gifts they can enjoy for months, or even years afterwards.
Subscriptions, memberships, event tickets where they can make memories, or activities you can enjoy together. All these have less of an impact on the environment, and create memories which can last a lifetime.
If you are working to a smaller budget, don’t discount the value of homemade. I love nothing more than getting a jar of homemade jam, a basket of bread or locally made wine. For me, the effort which has gone into making this delicious produce that I will continue to use beats anything more expensive and shop bought.
If you are buying material presents, and there’s nothing wrong with that, just make sure that before you do, you are doing so for the right reasons. Not because you think you should. If they already have something which works perfectly well, do they really need the next version or model up just because you can afford it?
A lower priced gift they will love will go a lot further than something expensive which screams ‘I really had no idea’.
Don’t get stressed
The run up to Christmas can leave even the calmest person feeling a little frazzled. With all the shopping, social obligations, cards to write and post, cooking, cleaning, on top of the day job, many of us find it gets all a bit too much as we near the end of December.
It’s a prime time towards the end of November to work out your calendar and commitments for the festive season. Don’t overstretch yourself by agreeing to be at every occasion you are invited to.
Cut down on the unnecessary ‘must-do’. If you find your to-do list is longer than your arm, then consider how you can make it more manageable for you. Buy store made mince pies instead of baking if you don’t have the time, or order your food online. These shortcuts will have less of an impact than not taking a moment to enjoy the festive period will.
Don’t look back on your Christmas celebrations and wish you could have been more present rather than in the kitchen, working until the last minute, or hidden away writing mountains of cards and wrapping gifts.
This year, I am only doing the basics. A simple but delicious dinner, no-fuss decorations, and a handful of cards. I want to take my time back to enjoy it in a more meaningful way.
For everyone, the festive season has a different meaning. However I hope that whatever way you chose to celebrate it, you do it for the right reasons, with the right people, and choose to invest your time in the ways which make you happy, not in the ways you think you should.