A Minimalist Christmas – Gift Ideas

DIY, Family, family stories, one room school house, Orange County Photographer, Personal, storyteller, Uncategorized, wild and free children

(This post was originally published on Orange County Moms Blog)

Back in October I was in the hardware store and there were Christmas decorations that greeted us as we walked through the sliding doors. We as a family totally love Christmas and really the whole season, so it never bothers me when all the decor comes out, even if it’s before Halloween.

The sign on the bench said to take a selfie.

We live in a time where everything is so easily accessible. Literally at our finger tips! If I can order it online and not have to leave the comfort of my home? Ummm, who can say no to that? Not this mama!

I wanted to talk about Christmas now because November is “the deal month” where all the stores are thankful for you so here’s another “deal to show our appreciation…” I’m not saying this is a bad thing. For sure if it’s something you’ve had your eye on and just been waiting for the sale, it’s a good thing. I just wanted to bring up another way to approach the season of giving without loading your house with more stuff.

We have 8 people in our home… we’ve got some stuff… It’s really unavoidable to accumulate stuff. But it’s also mentally draining to be surrounded by stuff! So my kids and I (actually mostly my kids) came up with a list of non toy/stuff gift ideas. I basically asked them what things they would like to receive. They are 3, 6,9, 11 and 13. My 3 year old didn’t help with this list but you’ll see some suggestions for that age as well.

So hide those gift catalogs when they come in the mail and check out this minimalist list instead.

Gift Cards! Money is fun but gift cards make you go to that specific place which makes it feel like a special outing for your kids. So here are some places that my 6 year old said he would like gift cards from.

In N Out, Home Depot, Costco, Bass Pro Shop, Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, Savers.

Special Treats! We very rarely buy candy since one of mine is allergic to food dyes and dye free candy is expensive so my kids look forward to their stockings filled with special treats. These are things my 13 year old said.

Licorice, cookies, gummies, chocolate coins (from Trader Joe’s)

Tools! Not much needs to be explained here. All boys and girls need tools and they have kids kits at hardware stores.

Plants! Cleaning the air and adding beauty to the home. Good idea son!

Carving Kits! There’s stamp carving, soap carving and for those more advanced, wood carving.

Books! We’re a Charlotte Mason homeschooling family so good books are the best! Not more to say here.

Arts and Crafts Supplies! We’re talking journals, gel pens, paints, stamps, colored pencils, canvases, nice paper, face paints, glitter glue, paint brushes, etc. We bought our 3 year old a pack of colorful glitter glue and she was the happiest little person ever!

Army/Survival/Camping Gear! This was mostly from my boys who wear camouflage attire more often than not. We just took some family pictures and I had to prepare my 11 year old before hand that he would not be dressed in his army fatigues. My request was met with disappointment but he got over it and put a button up shirt on for his mama.

Army watch, straw filters, hand pump, tent, chairs, rope, grappling hook, flash light, first aid kit, canteen, walkie talkies, hydro packs.

Bible/Devotionals! There’s devotionals for all ages and my 9 year old just reminded me that he needs his own bible (his older brother and sister got one for their birthdays with their names on them).

Camera! My 13 year old said a film camera and I also thought about sun print paper.

Season Passes! Some places that came to mind are, Knott’s Berry Farm, Disneyland, Aquarium, Zoo, Legoland.

Skill Lessons! Archery, instruments, sewing, painting/drawing, climbing, etc. Do your kids have an interest in something specific? A lot of times there’s deals for the first lesson for them to try it out.

Experiences! Ziplining, road trips, camping, family game night (new board games?), family story night (new books?), cruise.

Subscription Boxes! There’s so many great subscription boxes now that come with science experiment, history or art supplies. They’re basically like a unit study in a box and the kids get a new one every month. Fun!

The idea behind these non toy things is, they’re dual purpose, open ended, foster creativity and encourage time together. That was the hope in putting this list together.

I would love to hear how you have a minimalist Christmas!




Alaina Nunez is the professional photographer who specializes in documenting unforgettable moments in a lifestyle and documentary way. Home is in sunny Southern California with her husband and 6 children. They love to travel on road trips together so if you’re not in the area and looking to have Alaina document your newborn, family or intimate wedding Contact her to see if she’ll be passing through your area.




Family Photojournalist Association


Alaina Nunez Photography
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