Inside: Deciding what should make the cut for your minimalist Christmas decorations can be a difficult decision. Figure out what should be part of your collection using these 3 simple steps!
Other than Fall, Christmas is my favorite season of the entire year. And what marks the start of the Christmas season more than unpacking and putting up Christmas decorations?
Before minimalism, I used to think the more Christmas decorations, the better.
But then I started to take stock of what Christmas decorations I was actually hanging onto – packing and unpacking, taking up counter space every single year, and I realized that I really didn’t love everything we had.
Combine that with a couple of Christmas pregnancy due dates, and I knew that we needed to majorly simplify our holiday decorations!
Fortunately, or unfortunately depending on how you look at it, our long-distance move did all the work for me. Besides our Christmas tree, ornaments, and kid’s nativity set, everything else had to be left behind in Boston.
Last year after our move (just after Thanksgiving), we lived with my parents for the entire month of December while my husband looked for a job in our new city. We enjoyed their decorations and put up none of our own. This forced decluttering gave me a unique perspective on Christmas decorations, a clean slate, if you will.
While I didn’t like it at the time, a clean slate is a gift. I get to decide what to add back into our Christmas this year.
As the Christmas season approaches, I’ve thought a lot about how to have a minimalist Christmas – especially with kids!
Hopefully my experience will help you to simplify your own Christmas décor (I’m hoping for your sake that simplifying won’t look like needing to get rid of half your stuff in 30 minutes!)
3 Simple Steps to Decorate for a Minimalist Christmas
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1. Take some time to reflect on what makes Christmas the most meaningful for you and for your family.
What you choose for your minimalist Christmas decorations will probably be different than what I would choose because minimalism is different for everyone.
When deciding how to apply minimalism to any area of our lives, I constantly go back to Joshua Becker’s definition of minimalism, “Minimalism is the intentional promotion of the things we most value and the removal of anything that distracts us from it (emphasis mine).”
This definition means that minimalism is highly subjective: what you most value will almost certainly be different from what I most value, as will what we both consider distractions.
Questions to Ask Yourself About Christmas
What decorations really add value to your Christmas? What does your ideal Christmas feel like?
After a lot of thought, I personally realized that lighting, smells, and sounds are the most meaningful part of Christmas decorations for me. I also value my kids being able to participate in decorating – it’s a family project.
DO NOW: Take a moment to close your eyes and envision your home at Christmas. What stands out to you? Sights, smells, sounds. What would you miss if it wasn’t there?
What distracts from your ideal Christmas experience?
For me personally, decorations that clutter my surfaces are a distraction, as are tons of fragile ornaments that can be easily broken by eight little hands. I don’t want to spend the Christmas season looking for open counter space or cleaning up broken ornaments.
Those things needed to go.
DO NOW: Ask yourself what’s a distraction from the Christmas you want to have with your family.
Hint: all those things you didn’t answer or think of in the first question? Those things are most likely a distraction, and you will benefit from giving them/throwing them away.
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2. Only take out the Christmas decorations you actually remember, and think to get from storage.
This seems so simple, but it’s amazing what happens when you decide to use all the Christmas decorations you’ve stashed away in the basement. Because when you open those Christmas storage bins jam packed full of green and red everything, all the ones you never even gave a second thought all of a sudden seem SO NECESSARY.
I can practically hear your thoughts right now…
But remember the Christmas we got that angel? I don’t love it but it was a part of such a wonderful Christmas that year!
We had such a good time making that craft! Never mind that it’s annoying to put up and spread glitter all over the house. I spend a lot of December vacuuming it up, come to think of it.
But Grandma gave us that Christmas card holder! I mean, it doesn’t actually hold the cards up all that well, but I couldn’t possibly part with it!
All those thoughts inevitably come up when you actually go through each and every item in those storage bins.
But what if you committed to leaving it all away and only getting out what you think to get out?
Leave the rest this year. See how it feels. One year of less won’t make or break your Christmas.
REFLECT LATER: Did you actually miss all that stuff? I bet you’ll find when you reflect on this exercise in January that you don’t miss a thing.
3. Add to your Christmas decorations what is notably missing.
This may sound like a surprising last step for a minimalist, but hear me out.
Sometimes, we keep bins and bins of holiday decorations only to realize that they don’t really bring us joy. All the stuff prevents us from really noticing.
We are often missing the few things that would make Christmas the most meaningful to us. We have SO MUCH that we feel guilty adding to the chaos.
Once you follow step number 2, there is space to notice what’s missing.
DO NOW: Think about what is missing from your decorations that make Christmas special.
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Our Minimalist Christmas Decorations
Every family will be different, but here are the items that make up our minimalist Christmas decorations (we are repurchasing the last two items this year as we lost them in the move).
An Artificial Christmas Tree
Two years ago, we decided to invest in a fake Christmas tree. Yes, chopping down a tree is magical…it’s also a big fat pain in the butt with four small children, at least for us.
The clean-up is not fun, and it’s money we would be spending over and over again every year that could go to gifts or Christmas dinner or a number of other things. Maybe one day, we’ll return to a live tree…maybe.
We chose a middle of the line option similar to this tree.
Only word of caution: do not get a pre-lit tree. If one light goes out and a replacement doesn’t work, the whole tree is a goner (unless you want to cut off all the lights – no thank you!). Put the lights on it yourself.
My fondest Christmas memory growing up was always decorating the Christmas tree. I loved pulling out the different ornaments, remembering making some of them or who gave them to us. Every ornament had a memory, and it was like seeing an old friend year after year.
We’ve lost some every other year to little hands, but still have a great collection (I made room for them – couldn’t imagine losing these). I’ve seen genius parents set up this gate around their tree for the toddler years. If you are fond of your glass ball ornaments, either hang them up high or get yourself a gate!
Side Note: You might consider starting this fun ornament tradition when your kids are older. Every year, my parents give me and my siblings identical ornaments. They love the thought that we all decorate our trees with the same ones every year.
Kid’s Nativity Set
We were given this beautiful nativity set for our wedding, but it was lost in between the wedding and our move. I’ve missed it ever since!
Another nativity set we received was definitely NOT designed for kids. Mary and Joseph quickly lost their heads to being banged against the table shortly after setting it up.
This Little People nativity set was recommended to us, and it is PERFECT for this season with little kids in the house.
Maybe one day we will find the same Willow Tree nativity set we lost, but for now, I love how the kids can act out the Christmas story over and over again without me being worried about broken ceramic cutting little feet and hands.
Next to lighting, Christmas smells are my favorite part of Christmas. Especially since we now have a fake Christmas tree, I knew we needed to add the scents of Christmas back into our home during the Christmas season.
Yankee candles are the only ones I’ve ever had that actually fill the entire room with the scent. Balsam Fir and Christmas Cookie are my two favorites, but they have several other scents that would be perfect to add to the mix as well.
Update: We have since mostly replaced strongly scented candles with essential oils and a diffuser that mimics candlelight. Christmas Spirt blend by Young Living is divine! We do still burn unscented candles because there’s just something about candles that can’t be replaced.
Additional Christmas Lights
There’s just something magical about sitting in the quiet, dark living room surrounded by the soft glow of Christmas lights. We not only hang them on the tree, but also along our windows.
Sometimes, they stay up through February. That’s how much we love them!
Kid-Made Disposable Decorations
Every year, the kids decide to make something different to add to our decorations: signs, paper chains, new ornaments (some beautiful, some not so much).
What I love about these is they can get creative every year, and I don’t feel guilty about recycling it. They get to contribute something special; we have less to put back in storage.
While we do have an artificial tree, we do borrow from nature where we can.
Branches with red berries and extra branches leftover from chopped down Christmas trees (bring in the scent without as much of the mess) are easy minimalist decorations that can return to nature when the season is over.
Declutter Christmas: Enjoy The Season More
Christmas should be the slowest, most contemplative and joyous time of the year.
But so many of us miss it in the cluttered house and the overpacked schedules! We spend the season rushing around, doing way too much (things we don’t even love or want to do!). Come December 26, we are more than ready for Christmas to be over.
That’s not what I want Christmas to be for my family. Do you?
Christmas is the perfect time of year to embrace minimalism. I hope creating your own special collection of minimalist Christmas decorations helps you slow down and savor this special season.