20 Dec 2015


As we approach the Holidays, I encourage you to be intentional about your spending. Think of all the consumption that goes on particular around this time of year. The paper. The packages. It all goes in the trash. Here’s what you can do to cut back and enjoy a more minimal Holiday season.

Growing up, my family was poor. There were five kids. We rarely got more than a couple presents each. It didn’t kill us. It made us stronger.

Since having my own kid, I’ve discovered something. Many Americans are excessive about gift giving. I’m guilty. I wanted Annie to have things I didn’t have as a kid, but what does that teach her? That the Holidays is all about getting stuff? That’s the wrong message. I’ve intentionally cut back on gift giving the last few years.

Giving gifts is a wonderful thing this time of year. Giving too many gifts is not. When you give too many gifts, you send the wrong message to your kids. You contribute to pollution. You overspend. Too many decorations and big meals add to the excessiveness that comes with the season. Reduce clutter and eat healthy this year. Here are some things you can do:

Do your best to cut back on the excess this holiday season.

  1. Buy less: Christmas has nothing to do with buying stuff. Still, that’s what the media has convinced us to do. This creates several problems. You overspend, putting yourself deeper in debt. You send the wrong message to your kids. You send the wrong message to the world. You negate the true meaning of Christmas. Cut back on your buying this year.  
  2. Consider needs: It’s nice to receive something you really want for a Christmas gift. It’s better to get something that you really need. When you do your holiday shopping, consider needs. When you buy needed items for family members, they’ll be more appreciative in the long run. 
  3. Decorate less: I’ve never been a fan of huge amounts of decorations for Christmas. We have a tree and a string of lights in our front window. That’s about it. Excessive decorating seems to say, “look at me, my house is prettier than yours.” Christmas is not a competition. It’s a joyous season of life.   
  4. Eat less: Americans seem to find any excuse to eat. We tend to buy more food than we need. We eat unhealthy foods. Food gets wasted. We gain weight just to try to lose it in the new year. It’s illogical. We don’t need more food just because it’s the Holidays. Cut back on food this season.  
  5. Be eco-freindly: There are so many things we do during the holidays that are wasteful. You can go green this year. Here are some simple ideas:
  • Shop online. It reduces the amount gas you consume. You’ll have more time and energy for the season.
  • Shop local. Don’t go to those big national chain stores. Shop at locally-owned businesses.
  • Be creative in wrapping your gifts. Consider wapping gifts in blankets or towels. You can wrap gifts inside of other gifts. 
  • Turn off your lights at night. Many people leave their lights on all night. This wastes power.
  • Recycle your waste. Reuse boxes, bags, ribbons and bows.
  • Don’t eat out too much. It’s easy to start eating out more often during the holiday season. If you keep things simple you’ll do less running around. Less running around means less eating out.

Even when we have a simple Holidays, we can still make a mess. Get some great cleaning tips: Join the Cleanup Queen on Facebook.

When you cut back on the excess, your family will do more bonding.

Cut back this holiday season. Be more intentional in how much you buy. Don’t overdecorate. Don’t overeat. Find alternatives. Get creative with your kids. Make your own decorations. Read stories together. Make healthy snacks together.

Buy less. Bond more. 

You can learn more about simple living by reading my book, The Happiness of Simple - for FREE). It’s my gift to you. The book teaches you how simple living leads to happiness and productivity. Get my free book: The Happiness of Simple.

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Dan Erickson is a single dad of nine-year old Annie. He’s also a teacher, musician and minimalist. He has an M.A. in communication, works in education, radio, television and journalism and writes about simple living on his blog