How I’m Planning a Non-Consumer Family Christmas

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Inside: Ideas to inspire creativity and giving throughout the holiday season with things you can do as a family, on your own, or in your community. 

Now that I’m a Mom, the entire concept of the holidays is changed. I’m seeing it all through new eyes and, if I’m being totally honest, it’s forcing me back to the simplest of times. As many families do, I grew up with traditions at Christmas time; from reading the same version of Twas the Night Before Christmas each December 24th, to hosting dozens of people for an open house, to participating in a Sneaky Santa, to filling stockings to the brim – I never wanted for anything when it came to Christmas growing up.

But this year, in particular, I’m feeling a bit uneasy about it all. 

I don’t know if it’s just me, but I sense society as a whole is pulling back from consumerism and ‘gimme’ style holidays. We are taking more pride in the simple act of giving and receiving and of slowing down to be thankful for all that we have in our lives. Have you seen the documentary made by the Becoming Minimalist folks? It was eye opening. I sorta started on the journey back when we started the KonMari Method, however I struggle with the concept of consumerism daily. Why do we need so much stuff? 

I really felt pressured this year to write a bunch of ‘gift guides’ because ‘all the bloggers do it’ and it is a great way to pad the bank account by generating clicks to affiliate products or by getting sponsors to pay for submission, but I couldn’t bring myself to write one.

We are all sold to so often. I’m growing weary of it all. And I feel like I can’t be the only one.  I’m at the stage of my life when if someone asks what is on my Christmas list, I say ‘peace, quiet, and maybe a square of chocolate.’

This year, I am reintroducing our Believe Box with Piper and my plan is to turn it into something that teaches her the joy of giving. (You can see how I decorated the Believe Box here in my first post about it last holiday season.) She’s still so little, but I have a bunch of coffee gift cards at the ready to make it happen. The idea behind the Believe Box is that once every week during Advent, the Goodness Fairy will deliver her a treat. However, in order to stay in the Fairy’s good books, Piper must respond with an act of charity.

DIY Believe Box

The treats I’ve got for the box are nothing lavish – some of her favourite Love Child Organics Owlies (which she totally calls Bee-Do Snacks), Smarties, special yogurt treats – and a few hair clips and books. Then Piper will get to choose who to gift the coffee cards to – her daycare teacher, our neighbours, the lovely vet assistant who clips Buddy’s nails.

I don’t know if this is ethical egoism or egoic altruism, but I can’t wait to see how she reacts to handing a small gift to someone she doesn’t really know. Isn’t that the idea of Christmas anyway? The smallest in the world can bring the greatest light?

Another tradition I’m seeking to start is one that fosters creativity. There’s something about winters in Canada that can have such a negative impact on our collective mental health. I find I’m often drawn to curling up in a ball and doing nothing until the snow stops flying in April and I know that’s not the best way to live life. Aside from topping up Vitamin D and exercising a bit, I feel most invigorated and alive when I’m learning. So this year, one of our traditions is to learn something new as a family. 

Whether it fails, results in an epic victory or just a fun time, I don’t care. The point is to try something new that celebrates our capacity as humans to GROW. This year, I tried using a new tool in my DIY studio to make large scale art for our new fireplace. And next weekend, I’m going to attempt to make my first ever jelly roll with Dan and Piper’s assistance.

None of these things are necessarily Instagrammable events. In fact, I feel they might be best kept as family focused, not-for-social-consumption events. But the idea is that Christmas traditions can stop being about ‘things’ and start being about feelings, growth, awareness, self-care and kindness all around.

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