Minimalist Mama in a Maximalist Season

The holiday season can be complicated for us minimalist-minded folks. It is usually associated with an influx of stuff, which can lead to holiday stress. Our family LOVES Christmas, and their love language is gift giving. It’s one of the many ways they show their love and it brings them joy. I appreciate that about them. It also brings my kids joy to receive gifts. I’m not here to minimize joy, so I thankfully accept these gifts. 

My reasons for being a minimalist could probably take up a whole post, but the primary reasons are space, waste, and gratitude. We simply don’t have the space for an abundance of stuff. I don’t want that abundance of stuff to end up in a landfill. And I want my children to learn to be thankful for what they have. Let me mention, no judgement towards the maximalist mamas out there. If this is your season and you love to do it big, go for it! 

A few things that have helped me navigate the stress this holiday season:

Proactive List Keeping

I keep a list year-round for each member of my family so if anyone asks for ideas, I can suggest things we really want or need instead of trying to think of something on the spot. My oldest knows that if he asks for something we will “put it on the list” and if he still wants it by the time a special occasion rolls around, then I know he really wants it.

I use the Notes app on my phone, but there are different apps you can use. “Alexa” can even help with it. I try to keep a variety of things on the list including multiple experience ideas, which is our first preference.

Thinking Ahead

My kids have birthdays not too long after Christmas, so I generally suggest gifts that are more for the current phase they’re in for Christmas. For birthdays, I look ahead to things they may want or need as the year goes on.

That year-round list comes in handy for this as well. As they get older, they have more opinions on their wishlist, but I encourage them to look ahead when they make their lists. 


Okay, this one is obvious. It’s always a good idea to head into the holiday season by purging and organizing what you already have. If your kids are older, you could help them sell their items on marketplace to save up for something they really want.

Something else I do is set a date toward the end of January to revisit our new things. By then, I usually have a good idea if things are a “keeper” or if it would be better stored away for later. If we’ve already lost pieces of it or it’s broken, then away it goes. 

Thinking of Others

Take the opportunity to partner with your family to find items that are no longer serving you, but could have a new life with someone else. Donating to others is a great way to instill gratitude and has nothing to do with what ends up under the tree.

Last year we adopted a family and my son was so excited to go shopping for the items on the list, and was proud when it was time to drop them off.

Balancing Things Out

I head into the holiday season knowing our children will likely receive lots of new items. To compensate for that, we generally gift our kids an experience. This year is a weekend away. On Christmas morning, each child receives a stocking with (mostly) useful items or small fun things. Santa does not visit our house with a big bag of gifts, and that’s okay.

I think a lot of parents feel the holiday stress at this time of year, whether it’s about making the season magical enough, moving the elf, remembering to-do lists, hosting and attending gatherings, or the influx of stuff that comes with holidays. I hope these tips help you feel a little more at ease if you are a minimalist mama like me. Take this as your opportunity to give yourself a break this season. 

What are some tips and tricks you’ve employed to navigate all the “stuff” of the season? Check out Stacy’s post for a few more helpful ideas on navigating holiday stress!


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