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how to have a minimalist Christmas without being a scroogy a-hole

My motto, less space = less stuff = more life

It's easy for me to fill my home with chachkas and random stuff.  I see those pictures in home magazines and I want my house to look like that. Rather…

I want my home to feel the way Ifeelwhen I look at those warm, cozy, color coordinated, perfectly designed pages. 

No time of year are we more likely to crave a warm cozy space than during the holidays.  And it’s oh-so-easy to fill a home with glittery things we don’t need this time of year. In fact, it can be hard not to.

But you can spend hundreds of dollars on Christmas cheer and still be a miserable jerk.

All the checkouts in stores are overflowing with sparkly things, and nothing says I freakinglove Christmas more than sparkles right?

Starbucks gets it. November 1, the highly-anticipated holiday red cup comes out.

(Fact: a vanilla soy latte with cinnamon and nutmeg on top tastes better in a red cup)

But what do you do when clutter makes you crazy? And storing things you use only once a year becomes a DRAAAG? When we downsized from a 3 bedroom suburban townhome to a 2 bedroom midrise condo in the city, a lot of stuff couldn't come with us.

My husband (aka Mr. rational – well, sometimesanyway) brought up the Christmas decorations as we were packing. In all – a 7-foot plastic tree, 4 storage bins filled with decorations, random sparkly things right down to bathroom towels to bring holiday cheer, and a partridge in a pear tree.

Mr. rational: "Why are we keeping this stuff if we only use it once a year?"

Me: "Because it makes the house all Christmassy and it makes me happy."

Mr. rational: "It’s not the stuff that makes it Christmassy.  New rule, if it gets used once a year we don't have it.”

I was pissed at first. I wasn’t going to let Mr. Rational take away my Christmas cheer. It was MY red and green glory. Bah humbug! But then I got to thinking.

It wasn’t the stuff that made me feel good. How I looked at the stuff made me feel the way I want to feel.

So I asked myself, how did I want to feel?

Cheerful

Warm

Cozy

Lighthearted

Fun

Hopeful

Dreamy

Nostalgic

Calm

Grateful

When we got to our new apartment and the season with the bearded fat guy rolled around I wasn’t about to forgo the Christmas season, or skip town. I wanted a tree, so I got a little 3-footer on sale from Target and a small box of sparkly balls. The kids make decorations for the tree and for the rest of the house and I (pretend) to be Martha for 5 minutes. It all fits into a small box that fits in the kids’ closet. (Read: no storage unit required).

I feel good about this.

It's not the tree or the gaudy red and green all over the house that the kids enjoy, it’s about how YOU feel.

Last time I checked there was no 'warm fuzzy’ aisle at Target.  I’m not saying to nix the decorations, or that my version of minimalist Christmas is for you.  I encourage you to think about how the holidays, and accompanying stuff makes you feel.

If you’re complaining about the 4 hours it takes you to set the tree up to have your kids/cats/dogs/birds/Elf on the shelf pull the decorations off?  Is it worth it?

Whining about the tree shedding needles all over your floor?  Dreading taking it all down, the work involved and then the feeling of an 'empty' home?

Then DON"T DO IT. Or change your mind about it. Greatest part about having a mind is that you can change it.

Find what works for you.

Here's your new rules for living the minimalist life during the holidays without being scrooge: 

  1. Think about how you want to feel at Christmas. Only bring into your life what makes you feel that way.
  2. Decorating - make what you can, bring out all your red stuff. Instant Christmas. Or keep it simple and deck the house out in white if you’re dreaming of a white Christmas.
  3. Follow the 1 in one out rule for gifts. Go through toys and clothes you’re not using and make a huge donation.
  4. Keep twinkle lights up year-round. If they give you the warm fuzzies in December, they'll give the fuzzies in June too.
  5. Make changes that will keep your home inviting all year long, instead of once a year, don't you deserve it?
  6. Don’t do anything that you resent or dread.

Want more minimalist holiday inspiration?

Like I said, I’m no Crafty Cathy, but I've been searching for my own unfussy holiday inspiration. Check out my Pinterest board to repurpose stuff you’ve already got.

Why save the warm fuzzies for 1 month of the year?

Now, to encourage you to think about how you want to feel this month, I’ve got 2 questions for you. Leave your answer in the comments below: 

  1. How does jazzing up your home for the holidays feel?
  2. Presuming that feeling is a good one, what will you do to keep that feeling going all year?