Photo Christmas Cards & Minimalism

These may seem like opposite ideas: buying and sending photo Christmas cards, and being a minimalist.

Hear me out

photo christmas cards and minimalism

When I first set about simplifying my life, researching minimalism, and KonMari-ing my home, I had a guiding principle: I would not do anything that was LESS convenient or MORE stressful in the name of minimalism.  I would follow simple living down any rabbit hole I desired, but not into making more work for myself.

And this is the kind of moderation I still practice.  I do not count my possessions, because frankly I don’t have time and that probably doesn’t matter in the end, anyway.  I don’t purge things just for the sake of purging them, if they’re still serving me.  I sometimes even buy things if it becomes apparent that they would be very useful and make my daily life easier and less stressful.

*gasp*

One of the things that remains in my life is photo Christmas cards.

Hear me out.

Yes, it costs some money to send these.  I try to spend about 30 cents a card (I have found the best prices every year through Walmart.) Add to that the nearly 50 cents of current postage, and it costs about 80 cents per card.  I order 60 cards (this number has increased in recent years) so I spend about 50 dollars per Christmas.

This may seem excessive, but I choose to do it this way because I detest writing out actual Christmas cards.  The first few years of our marriage I sent out handwritten Christmas cards (cutting the cost down to more like $25) but it took me a month to get it done, and I dreaded every card.  I’m terrible at small talk, and writing out a Christmas card is, to me, just more small talk.

Yes, it’s a little commercial… tooting one’s own horn… “typical American”… all things I try not to be in my personal life.  But this is the ONLY time of year we take a family photo, and the only photo of my children that I distribute.  So I do not indulge in photo sessions, prints, grandparent photos, etc.  I keep my Christmas greetings and my family photo distribution to one single activity.

This is also how I announce additions to our family.  My oldest has just joined us this year, and this card is the most formal notice anyone is going to get.  My middle two sons were born in November, so the yearly Christmas card replaced any kind of baby announcements.  Even though the next is due in May, I included “& baby” on the list of names so at least people have an idea it’s happening.  Next year’s card will be this child’s first distributed photo, even though he/she will be several months old.

 

In my life, photo Christmas cards are killing multiple birds with one stone, and easy for me to make and send.  They cut down on stress, on the number of times I feel obligated to print photos or send notice of family events.  It’s a tradition I intend to continue for the foreseeable future, even if it isn’t the most “minimalist” thing ever.

5 Ways KonMari Minimalism Improves My Life

5 Ways KonMari Minimalism Improves My Life

I can’t claim to be an expert minimalist.  I don’t count my possessions, I can’t fit everything I own in a backpack, I don’t have a spartan tiny home.

But goodness, do I have less stuff than I used to.  I aspire to minimalism.

I applied the KonMari method to my entire home when pregnant with my second baby.  Call it extreme nesting if you will.

I did it again as we were packing up that house to move.

And I’m doing it again right now in my new home (how did this stuff even get MOVED here?!)

It is the best homemaking decision I’ve ever made, and here’s why:

birch trees. Text: Minimalism Changed My Life

1 – Minimalism forces me to think deeply about purchases and gifts

Before I buy anything for my husband or kids, I think seriously about whether it is amazing and going to be used frequently.  This results in usually buying one joint large gift for Christmas – and this last year we skipped in entirely.  We went on a 2-day vacation with our dear friends instead, and it was so much better than a gift!For our children, we follow the 4 gifts principle – something to wear, something to read, something fun, and something they need.  (Clothing, a book, a toy/game/ticket to somewhere, new sheets, dishes, etc.)  Since they have grown up this way, they don’t expect anything more lavish.  My 3 1/2 year old still gets excited when we put his “new” sheets on his bed, and talks about how he opened them on Christmas.

2 – I am more motivated to finish the laundry and the dishes.

I only have enough sippy cups and coffee mugs for two days.  I also only have enough kid dishes, good knives, and pans for two days, so if I’m feeling unmotivated I can only possibly let the dishes go for a day before we run out of necessary items.  (Sippy Cups and Coffee Mugs would make a great blog name – feel free to borrow that one!)Likewise, we have pared down our wardrobes to the point where I can’t skip laundry.  Maybe this doesn’t happen to everyone, but before KonMari I could skip laundry indefinitely.  I had SO. MANY. CLOTHES. that it didn’t matter if I washed them or not, the closet just kept giving!  Now, my boys only have 6 pair of pants, so I have to wash them.  I use a capsule wardrobe, so I actually wear every piece in my closet and need to wash them to have options for the next week.

3 – Broken items rarely bother me

Fact: Kids break things.  Little Known Fact: My husband, somehow, breaks even more things.This used to bother me immensely, but the process of decluttering and reducing my possessions has definitely changed my mindset about material possessions.  Minimalism functions under the theory that possessions are not important, period.  Because of this, I’m not going to get upset at a person who accidentally ruins one.  I actually say, “Well, there’s one more thing I don’t have to own!”  It helps me let go of even one more item – it has been decided for me by being broken.

4 – Less guilt

This is a problem I didn’t even realize I had until I became familiar with the KonMari method of minimalism.  I had no idea how much guilt I was inviting into my daily life by keeping possessions around that I didn’t love.

“I should really be using that, _____ gave it to me.”

“Forgot I had that.  What a waste of money!”

“I need to go find _____ and set it out so _____ thinks I’m using it.”

“I should dust.  Haven’t touched that shelf of things in months.”

“Here’s the box of ugly things I have to keep around.”

“Let’s sort the Christmas ornaments: Ones we like, ones we can get rid of, ones we don’t like but can’t get rid of.”

“I need to find a place to put _____ where nobody will really see it.”

These are true.  Not exaggerated.  I actually had to think these thoughts routinely about possessions in my home.

I heard it so many times, but didn’t truly believe it until I decluttered objectively: The people you’ve loved don’t cease to exist just because you get rid of “things.”  I didn’t need to keep around heirlooms, gifts, greeting cards, what-have-you from deceased or faraway relatives simply to remember them by.  I’m not going to forget them!  I do have some heirlooms and gifts that I really, truly love and use almost everyday.  I enjoy that those particular items happen to have come from people close to me.  Beyond that, I’ve learned to let go.  And now I don’t have to hear those guilty thoughts inside my head anymore. (Katie from The Decluttering Queen wrote a great post about “keepsakes!“)

The same goes for money spent  You already “wasted” the money.  Having the items staring at you all the time isn’t going to help the situation – it’s just going to make you feel bad daily, instead of once by decluttering the item.

5 – Ease of cleaning, dressing, packing, etc.

Less clutter on surfaces = easier to wipe or dust.
Fewer toys = even if the kids empty out the whole playroom, it’s not that much to pick up.
Capsule wardrobe = just count outfits to pack.  Everything goes together, everything fits, everything feels good to wear.

And this is why I continually look to minimize our home even more.  It has brought such a relaxed, peaceful mindset about possessions and really helped me curb my attachment to them.  There is so much more mental space and time in a day to work at things that truly matter, because I’m not devoting time to shuffling items around (physically or mentally!) picking out clothes, avoiding housekeeping, lingering over decisions about keeping or storing.

What benefits are you hoping to see from your minimalism journey?

What positive experiences have you already had along the way?