How to have a simple, minimalist Christmas (to maximise your happiness!)

To live frugally, and have more time and money for ‘memories’, we like to have a minimalist style house; free from clutter and without an abundance of things that we just don’t need. If you’ve been working hard to simplify your home and lifestyle, you’ll share my fear that Christmas has the potential to undo all of our hard-work.

Research shows that in the UK alone we are spending 5 million pounds each Christmas on unwanted or unused Christmas gifts! And, nearly 80% of us go over budget on our Christmas shopping – you don’t have to look far to notice that we have lost the real meaning of Christmas.

Religious or not, Christmas shouldn’t revolve around mountains of gifts, insurmountable amounts of waste, nor unnecessary strain on our finances. We’re not doing ourselves, or our planet, any favours with our unsustainable Christmas habits.

So let’s take a step back this festive season, here’s how to enjoy a more simple, minimalist Christmas…

Set clear priorities

It’s important to teach our children what Christmas is really about, why we give gifts and the importance of family and making memories over having lots of ‘things’. Starting a family tradition like a Boxing Day beach walk (or dip if you’re brave enough!), a family Christmas Bake off, a festive talent show or a wintery hike is a great way to enjoy inexpensive quality time and form long-lasting traditions that don’t revolve around gifts. It could even be as simple as sprinkling oats on the lawn for the reindeer and prepping a plate to leave out for Santa on Christmas Eve.

frugal mum children in pyjamas, plate for santa, christmas eve



Have a clear-out before Christmas to make finding a home for your new things less stressful. If you haven’t used something for a long time, the chances are that you don’t need it anyway. (And cleaning a clutter-free house saves so much time and energy, allowing you to focus on more important things!)

If you clear out the old before welcoming the new, your home will be a calmer environment and it’ll feel less overwhelming when the gifts arrive. Donating to others is a great lesson for the little ones too, so pass on what you don’t need to charity and help those less fortunate.


Change the way you gift

Avoid unnecessary gifting – opt for quality over quantity and reduce how much you buy, as well as who you buy for – this is better for the planet and your bank balance! Have a chat with friends and family before Christmas, and agree to cut back on gifts (perhaps do a Secret Santa or a one gift rule) and spend time together instead.

Personalised coupons are a great way to eliminate gifting lots of ‘stuff’ and they could be exactly what someone needs, so think about what skills you can offer. Why not offer to help in the garden, wash the car, cook a meal, babysit or give some DIY assistance? Download my free, printable Christmas coupons to get started.

free, printable christmas coupon from frugal mum


Decorate wisely

If, like me, you can’t cope with a chaotic home, then keep decorations simple and your home clutter-free. Consider using natural materials like pine cones and fresh evergreen branches, which you can forage from the woods, and simple neutral colours – warm white LED lights are cosy and calming.

Decorate in tasteful, simple way and avoid using every decoration that you own – choose quality over quantity, perhaps getting the kids to craft a few special pieces. It might even be time to sort through and donate some of your old decorations to charity – keep it simple and the festive season will be less overwhelming.


Think useable gifts

Edible gifts are great – they’ll go down a treat and there’s nothing left once they’ve been devoured. If you’re a talented cook, you could even make your own baked items, jam or chutney. My lemon shortbread and chocolate fridge cake recipes are super simple, or check out my Christmas baking post – get the kids to decorate the box (or pick up a cheap biscuit tin from a charity shop) and they make the perfect delicious presents!

homemade star mince pies cooling on rack

Try to buy (and ask for) useful, useable gifts – plants, notebooks and stationery and cosmetics are all great ideas. You could even upcycle something, or make use of your own skills like knitting to create something personal from scratch. Take a look at my post on DIY budget Christmas hampers too, for more ideas.


Make a list

If someone asks you what you would like for Christmas, tell them. This will reduce unnecessary gifting and you’ll receive things that you actually need. Ask them what they would like too, to make sure your spending is purposeful and to reduce Christmas waste.


Support charities

If you traditionally do a Secret Santa with your friends or workmates, why not suggest a charity donation or collection instead? This will stop your hard-earned cash being put towards novelty or unwanted gifts, which just clutter up our homes. Instead, make sure every penny is put to good use, helping those in need at a difficult time of year.

Donating to a cause you care about can make the holiday season more meaningful. We are fortunate to have so many things, so purchasing a gift for a child who may not otherwise receive one, or donating to charity, can be a more positive way to give. Check out my article: Where to donate (or receive) children’s charity Christmas gifts in the UK.

little girl holding gift


Choose experiences over things

For me, making memories and experiencing new things is much more fun than material gifts – and it gives us things to look forward to throughout the year. So you could also think about asking for, or giving your loved ones, the gift of a day out, an experience or an activity like a cooking class, instead of ‘things’. Buyagift is great for gifting interesting things to do!

Consider: concert tickets, theatre shows, meal vouchers, cinema tickets, activities like laser tag (my kids adore it!), days out to local attractions or even a trip to the zoo, instead of physical items. For some inexpensive outings, for fun on a budget, think about things like a nature trail, a day at the beach, a family picnic or a trip to a local museum.


Say no

If you’re feeling burdened by the cost of Christmas, or have a schedule rammed with activities already, don’t be afraid to just say no. If an extra night out will send your finances over the limit, or stop you from having a rest and quality time with your family at home, politely decline the invitation. Less is definitely more – so be selective about the number of social events and commitments you take on during the holiday season – putting your happiness and enjoyment first.

christmas planning book


Make eco-friendly choices

Be mindful of the environmental impact of Christmas. Simple options like choosing LED lights, eco-friendly wrapping paper and sustainable decorations are a great place to start. You might want to consider purchasing a potted Christmas tree that you can plant in your garden after the holidays, or buy a good quality artificial tree that can be used for many years. For lots of eco-friendly Christmas ideas, read my article: 25 ways to have an eco Christmas – and save money too!


Enjoy simple festive fun

Prioritise spending quality time with loved ones rather than getting caught up in the materialistic side of things. Keeping things simple will reduce the stress, cost and chaos of the Christmas holidays – allowing you to slow down and enjoy the special moments. Print out my Christmas Activity Advent Calendar for lots of ideas.

frugal mum, free printable christmas activity advent calendar, family fun for the kids


Switch off

With online sales, deals, social media and adverts everywhere, a materialistic Christmas can be hard to avoid. If you’re feeling the pressure to get dragged into spending money that you don’t have, or complicating your ‘less is more’ lifestyle, just switch it all off. You don’t have to follow in other’s footsteps; choose to simplify, get some fresh air and give yourself some much needed space from it all.

lady with dogs walking in the snow


For lots of minimalist present ideas check out my post: Minimalist Christmas gift ideas – simple, purposeful gifting.



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