Make Your Minimalist Holiday Manifesto

Few things exemplify the wrestling with abundance concept Asha and I discuss in Minimalist Parenting like the holidays. Too many things to do, too many things to buy, too many crazy people to deal with...the list goes on. And I'm by no means immune. Thanksgiving break offered a very clear reminder of what fills me with happiness and also what causes immense stress. So I decided that I wanted to create a minimalist holiday manifesto, and invite you to do the same. Intention setting is powerful stuff!

First, to clarify, as Asha and I discuss in our book, "minimalizing" is not about deprivation. I'm not asking you to give up shopping or family traditions. What I am asking you to do is to not be driven by "shoulds" and prioritize, to become more mindful about your choices and intentions, to make choices based on what rings true for you and your family. Ultimately, the goal is to do more of what lights you up and less of what drags you down.

Over the coming weeks I'll share editorial geared towards making your holidays easier (while still being fun, beautiful, tasty, and generous in spirit!), but meanwhile, on this first day of December I wanted to share the 6 items on my manifesto. I hope you'll create your own as well. I'd love to hear what you come up with.

1. Address what is causing the most stress as early as possible. It's very clear to me what I'm most stressed out about this year. And when Jon asked how he could help me with it, I realized that it would be helpful to address the issue as early as possible so I won't sit with the anxiety for the entire month of December. (Also, as I was thinking about this issue, I was reminded of two really great back posts: Jane's on 8 ways to reduce holiday stress and Jules's on 10 tips for preserving holiday mental health. Definitely worth a read!)

2. Continue to recalibrate gifting. This is a big one. Though I do love giving gifts, I really don't love the pressure and volume around the holidays. I want to continue to recalibrate traditional gifting by either doing nothing (sometimes nothing can be a gift), focusing on giving one lovingly procured gift per person (rather than scurrying around trying to fulfill some sort of quota), giving small handmade treats (e.g., to neighbors and friends), and continuing my charitable giving efforts (for ideas, see these wonderful back posts by Isabel Kallman and Jennifer James).

3. Make togetherness part of the process. Though I love being able to set Laurel loose on kid-friendly DIY projects, I have also realized how powerful it is to make togetherness part of the holiday process. Laurel is someone who truly treasures together time, so I plan on focusing gifting efforts around easy projects we can work on together. I'll be sharing more editorial about easy DIY gifts soon.

4. Embrace the little (potentially quirky) things that bring joy. Everyone's priorities are different and that's part of the power in creating your own manifesto. This weekend when I ordered my holiday cards, it seemed totally crazy not to opt-in to Minted's free recipient addressing but I reminded myself that hand addressing is one of the ways I foster connection. It may seem weird, but I like to think of the recipient and send them good juju as I address their envelope. I decided to keep this task on my to-do list and pay for return address printing (since I definitely don't enjoy printing labels or writing my own address 150 times).

5. Make sure there is plenty of opportunity for laughter. A few weeks ago we hosted a last minute dinner party with neighborhood friends and it was a good reminder of how incredibly powerful laughter is as a mood elevator. I want to prioritize gatherings with people who make me laugh!

6. Edit the to-do list. Continually. One of my best life lessons has been about prioritizing and letting go. For Violet's first birthday, Laurel and I prioritized our to-do lists in order of fun and gave ourself permission to let items at the bottom of the list fall off. I'm already getting her to do this for the holidays (her original to-do list was tightly written, two-sided...), and will follow suit. The other bonus about editing? It will give you breathing room to put yourself first from time to time. So important.

I'm not kidding, I feel calmer and happier about the holidays just writing this! What elements speak to you? What do you want more of? What do you want less of?

Image credits: Christine Koh