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Navigating the Christmas Holidays, Less Stuff and More LOVE


It’s been a year since my last post about gift giving over the holiday season so this year I wanted to revisit this post and update it with some content for my new and original followers… Less stuff and more love.

Often I am asked about gift giving and receiving over the holidays. I thought I would take some time to give you a few ideas and my thoughts around approaching the holidays with more intention and less stuff. This post I am sharing ideas on how to minimize all the wants and focus on the concept of thoughtful giving & spending quality time together as a family.


Ridiculous amounts of gifts like this. I did this? WHY?

The holidays were always celebrated in a grand way growing up. My parents would always go above and beyond their means to get us whatever we wanted on our list and then some. I remember every year, walking down the stairs on Christmas morning, and finding a colossal amount of perfectly wrapped gifts. My mom was the eighty’s version of Martha Stewart when it came to gift wrapping.


Me in 1989

If you were to ask what I got at Christmas, I couldn’t tell you for the life of me. Every year my mom made us write a list and took us to see Santa at the Angrignon Mall in Montreal. I mean, sure, I remember the times I got a bike, a computer, and my ‘real’ Doc Martens; but all the other “stuff”…I can’t and I don’t…What I do remember at Chrismas was the moments, the laughs, the dinners at my nonnas and the time spent with my cousins.

So let’s jump in right now to Move.Play.Mom’s thoughtful gift giving and time together guide…

This brings me to my first tip for you. Quality versus Quantity. When considering gifts, you don’t need to fill the stocking with a ton of junky little things. You can skip the scrappy stuff, the knick-knacks from the front counter at indigo and the stickers or erasers your kids don’t really want. We all are guilty of it. Trying to fill the tree with copious amounts of THINGS! (all wrapped to perfection).

Tip #2


Instead, you can try this…over the last several years our family has taken a different approach to list making. I have seen this come up on several minimalist blogs. It’s a cute way to manage gifts for your children. Tip #2 

  1. 1 idea to donate to

  2. 1 thing you want

  3. 1 thing to wear

  4. 1 thing to read

  5. 1 thing you need

Here is what I put together for our boys.


When it comes to receiving gifts from friends and family, I know it can be difficult to speak up about not wanting more toys, clothes, toys, toys, clothes…TOYS! Here’s the thing….you get to decide what comes into your house and what doesn’t. Communicate to your loved ones that you don’t want more stuff, instead, you can ask for – Tip #3

  1. experiences! (swimming lessons, Skis lessons, dinner gifts certificate)

  2. season passes to things like the zoo, the science center, the museum

  3. movie tickets, show tickets

  4. food (wine, cookies) consumables they will enjoy

  5. donation to a charity of your choice in your name

These can add huge value to our lives without bringing in more stuff to our home, STUFF that we don’t really need. 

If you can’t have this conversation with certain family members or friends (I get it!) and you know you are going to get swamped with toys and clothing (Grandma). Well,  you get to be in control of what to do with the gifts once they are in your hands. You can have your child decide to keep the new item and let go of something old. You can donate new toys to a local charity or hospital. You can take the clothing down to your local goodwill for a family in need.

However, I highly recommend that if you feel strongly about not bringing more stuff into your lives, I would just be honest with the people around you and consider having a conversation and suggest purchasing ideas like those listed in tip number three.

A couple of years ago, when we had slowly just started on our minimalist journey, we decided to start a new tradition of getting away and providing the kids with an experience during the holidays rather than a bunch of gifts. Year one we took the boys to Banff where we went on a horse-drawn carriage through the Rocky Mountains and cross-country skiing. It was so magical and the boys still talk about our first holiday getaway to Canmore, Alberta. My parents and my little brother and his wife joined us a few days later. My parents used that opportunity to provide the boys with more fun in and around Canmore! It was the best!

Growing up the holidays were always celebrated with my enormous Italian family. We ate an elaborate amount of traditional food dishes and spent time together. There was a lot of music, singing, karaoke and a gaggle of instruments that often made their way into the hands of family members just after midnight.  (mostly intensified by the homemade wine, amaretto, and grappa)

Those were the best memories I have of Christmas. The amazing food, the silver chalices my Nonna would take out for special use on Christmas Eve and the traditions. The singing of every single Beatles song ever recorded, The baccala fish, visiting with other family members until way past midnight and Monopoly games that went all night long. During our triumphs and darkest moments my family still pulled together to celebrate. In my memories, that was Christmas and not the gifts.

We need to make the holidays less about the consumer-driven ridiculousness and more about the moments and traditions.  Whatever you might be celebrating, if you approach it with intention and love, the memories will be unforgettable.


In the famous lyrics by The Beatles (all I can hear right now in my head is my dad, his cousins and a barrage of friends singing….)

“Say you don’t need no diamond ring and I’ll be satisfied Tell me that you want the kind of thing that money just can’t buy I don’t care too much for money, money can’t buy me love”

till the next post,


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