Nearly five years after moving to St. Augustine Beach as a new mother, author Meg Nordmann, is finding her creative groove in this palm-covered subtropical environment writing about – of all things – Christmas.
Her new book, “Have Yourself a Minimalist Christmas,” is making waves in this year’s current climate, as many people are realizing this year they need to embrace a simpler, slower way of life. We sat down with Nordmann to learn more about how to incorporate minimalist principles into our own holiday this year.
First of all, what exactly is minimalism?
Minimalism is a philosophy and lifestyle that encourages you to pare down the excess in your life – whether that is material items or your jam-packed calendar. Many people hear this term and immediately think of a cold, stark white room with a single chair and no art. This is not what it actually is! It’s not about aesthetics at all, but rather it’s about curating your life and editing things down to the items that actually bring you value. They may be utilitarian necessities or they may be items that bring you immense joy.
So often, we confuse joy with other things like memories of people or places, and we accumulate an unmanageable amount of keepsakes. Or we may feel beholden to objects because of guilt or sunk-cost bias. Minimalism helps you dig deep into the reasons you’re holding onto items and declutter that excess. By doing this, you end up gaining more time and less stress. When you’re not managing, cleaning and storing all of these items you gain new freedom in a variety of ways.
How can we apply this at Christmas, when gifts are exchanged?
You don’t have to be a Scrooge and not buy gifts for anyone or refuse receiving them to be a minimalist in this season. I think setting up better expectations with your loved ones will help slow down the quantity of gifts that will turn into clutter and upgrade the quality of what you both give and receive. I recommend making digital lists (such as a Pinterest Board or public wishlist) to help your family better understand what items would actually add value to your household. You’re not bluntly saying “Don’t get me anything” but rather you’re saying “Here’s what you can consider giving.”
Consumables and experiences are the best types of gifts that can relay thoughtfulness without becoming eventual clutter. Fine wines, hand-roasted coffee, craft cocktails, artisan hot sauce, gourmet chocolates – these are all ideas for high-quality consumables that people would enjoy using. If they are made locally, it just adds to the story and meaning behind it. Pre-paid tickets to the art museum, ballet, mini-golf, or a spa day are a few ideas for brainstorming experience gifts that could become treasured memories for your loved one – especially if the experience is shared for both of you!
Are there other tips for having a more minimal Christmas?
The whole idea behind the Christmas season, no matter your beliefs, is that of togetherness, peace and joy. It’s important to keep that in focus and to not fall into the busyness and hyper-consumption that society has conditioned us to feel as normal. Your presence is the best present you give your family and loved ones. In order to set yourself up to be present, front load as much of the holiday prep as you can early in the month. Declutter certain areas where you know there will be an influx of new items (kids rooms, wardrobes and the kitchen, for example). Organize and take inventory before hosting a party or jumping into the mess of holiday baking. The more prepared you are, the less stress you’ll feel in the moment and the more joyful and present you can be. Take a hard look at the self-imposed holiday traditions and events you usually partake in and edit out the ones that don’t really serve your family. Don’t continue doing things “for tradition’s sake.” Slow your pace and get really intentional. You are the curator of your own life, after all. The holidays will be absolutely magical if you give yourself space to breathe.
Featured Image by Jessica Strutridge