Between the dinner parties, seasonal activities and gift exchange, the holiday season can be a very costly time of year. We can feel compelled to accumulate more and more in response to the persistent advertisements that can reach us via notification at any time of the day. I am making a concerted effort this season to refocus my attention towards my family and away from the reflexive consumer patterns I have felt consumed by in the past.
Truthfully it is out of selfish intentions that I am choosing to reorient my ideals for a memorable holiday season. I want to spend quality time with my family and friends, relax and recharge, and experience new adventures. I am sure we have all felt the pinch as the year winds to a close and our list of tasks grows. Finding the right gifts for everyone, decorating, and cooking can feel like a part-time job. Unless the celebratory tasks are your idea of fun, they can detract from what can be most enjoyable about the season.
Here are my top tips for what has helped me simplify my life, spend less and enjoy more of the holidays.
Quality over Quantity
It can be tempting to try and curate a mountain of gifts to rapidly devour after our alarms go off on the 25th. Is more really better? If you give someone ten gifts, just for them to have more to unwrap, will they still treasure them once the snowflakes have been replaced by flowers? I like to focus on one special gift when gifting for friends and family members. When you focus on one gift instead of splitting your attention and resources the quality and impact of the gifting experience will be much more impactful. Above anything else, I want the holiday to feel special and for my gifts to reflect how deeply I value my relationships and for my family to receive gifts that bring them joy and are useful in their day-to-day life.
Rethink Gifting Rituals
It is a great idea to pear down the amount pile on your loved ones, but it can be difficult amidst peer pressure from family members intent on throwing every sale item they walked by in the last month under the tree. If you want to bring more intentionality into your family gifting experience it can be really helpful to explore more alternative giving rituals such as a Secret Santa that level the playing field for expectations and take the pressure off of your shopping list. An added bonus is that this can save you money as well, especially if you have a big family.
Beware Seductive Sales
Of course, we all want to get the deal of the century on all our gifts and baking needs, however, unless it was on your shopping list, you are not saving anything. Signs screaming “70% Off” or “Extra 20% Off Clearance” trigger for many of us to pull out our credit cards and give our wallet a workout. If you are really looking to cut back on reflexive purchases and create some extra room in your budget I suggest forgoing shopping as a holiday pastime and make more time family fun activities. Spend this season on the things from your own shopping list, don’t let advertisements and sale signs reorient your prioritize and appropriate your funds.
If you are prone to buying in response to sale signs try the following things to change this habit:
- Unsubscribe from any store emails in your personal email
- Set up a separate email account only for promotions and look only when you need something
Distance yourself from Comparison Traps
When a staged image of the lives of the 1% is at our fingertips, it human nature to reach out and grasp a piece of our aspirational lives for ourselves. It is good to have your goals close at hand, however, I think that the constant comparison of social media does more harm than good. Very few of us would admit directly that we want to look like the latest influencer on our Instagram feed, yet it can be so easy to get sucked into the sponsored posts and aspire to be a part of the lifestyle. You can’t change your life with the new trend piece and once, the shopping high wears off, your bank account will show that you are even further away from it than before. Instead, I have chosen to distance myself from social medial as a way to better understand my desires without social pressure to fit into the Insta-chic ideals. The result of this has been a dramatic decrease in my monthly spending on clothes and an increase in my self-esteem.
If you are looking to cut down on the amount of social media you consume, try the following tricks that have helped me:
- Move all of your social media apps into ole folder in the back of your phone.
- Turn your phone to gray scale.
- Consider deleting any apps that you compulsively open without thinking.
- Turn off notifications except for calls, text, tasks and calendar.
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Check out the books below for more information on how we can focus on what matters this holiday season and embrace intentional living.
See my strategy for gift giving in my last post Minimalist Christmas List.