Celebrating Christmas in a Tiny Home...the Sane Way!
It's your Tiny House Concierge popping in to talk about how we can celebrate the holidays without turning our Tiny Dream Homes into Tiny Tinsel Nightmares.
If you're anything like me, historically, you've celebrated the holidays by procrastinating until the last second and then spending way too much money to account for not having thought things through. As a result, there usually ends up being a lot of stress, a ton of plastic, and at least one fervent prayer to The Universe to please make next year different.
Well, Friends, it seems that Next Year has finally arrived. I will be celebrating the holidays in a tiny house this season. It has to be different. Like, actually.
How do I know this? Well, full disclosure, I learned the hard way. Let me take you back to Thanksgiving weekend.
Remember Thanksgiving weekend? That's the weekend I detailed for the world that it is possible to cook an entire Thanksgiving meal from scratch in a tiny house. *Provided you opt for a Cornish game hen, as that's what will fit in an RV oven.*
Anyway, I was so jazzed about my first tiny house holiday that I stopped thinking clearly. Like clockwork, as soon as Thanksgiving was over, I took my festive energy right to the store and proceeded to throw everything I knew about tiny house living out the window in the name of Christmas excitement.
Friends, I'm not proud of this, but I totally bought everything.
How cute would it be to have a giant bow on the front door?
Of course, my mounted ram skull needs some mistletoe for its horn!
I know my house came with some Christmas furnishings, but they aren't really my style, and I need NEW ONES.
So. (Insert music)
- Four plastic wreaths
- Three light strings
- Two packs of tinsel
- AND A GIANT BOW TO PUT ON THE FRONT DOOR
Friends. It wasn't good. I knew it the moment I got home. I set the bags down in the entryway and no longer had a living room. Just by looking at it all, I could tell that unboxing everything would overflow my trash and recycling bins. Where was I even planning to store this stuff when the holidays were over?
My house had spoken its piece: we had to celebrate differently.
But what would different even look like?
I mulled this over for several days. I thought about what the holidays meant. I don't mean 'meant' in the politically correct sense, but rather what the holidays meant to me. As in, what would my perfect holiday season look like if I stopped judging myself and trying to adhere to tradition? It occurred to me that I didn't have a clear answer, so I opened up a GoogleDoc and started brainstorming. I finally came up with five bullet points to detail my perfect holiday.
In case you're wondering, my final list is below.
Ahem. My perfect holiday season would include...
- Going on walks to look at Christmas lights
- Decorating the tiny house
- Reading while eating chocolates
- A Christmas Eve cocktail hour with fancy hors d'oeuvres
- Time with family
That's it! As I looked over the list, I realized that gifts weren't on it. In fact, aside from food items, there wasn't anything that needed to be bought.
To borrow a line from The Grinch, maybe Christmas, she thought, doesn't come from a store.
I returned almost everything.
When I got back to the drawing board, I knew I needed to cut the excess to make room for the pieces of the season I actually valued. To do this, I decided to address two main holiday categories: decor and gifts. Now I know gifts didn't make my top five list, but I also know that presents will definitely make my sister's top-five list and, therefore, are worth addressing.
So, how will I be handling these two categories this year? Let me tell you.
1) Tiny House Christmas Decor
Nothing makes the season come alive quite like holiday decor. But when did we start making that decor out of plastic, nylon, and glitter? All those fake boughs are based on real trees, you know? And thus, I decided to borrow some things from my neighbor's yard.
Now Friends, make sure you ask before you go helping yourself to your neighbors' trees! In my case, my neighbor was kind enough to accommodate my request, and a few snips later, I had holly berries and some large juniper boughs. The next day I went for a walk and collected pinecones to add to the mix. I felt festive, I hadn't spent any money, and the house felt alive. How cool is that? A living Christmas! I even took things one step further and added some fresh cut flowers, deep red apples, sugar crystal sticks, and candy canes to display in the kitchen.
Now, I did buy two strands of beads, but now that I've learned my tiny house lesson, they are wooden beads with natural hemp tassels making the strands both reusable and (ultimately) biodegradable.
There are also a few plastic boughs and a cement Christmas tree, but to be fair, these were things I already had. So nothing new had to be produced, and there was no packaging that required disposal.
I used to dread taking down the decor after the holidays, but I don't think I'll mind it this year. The few reusable items I have will go in a single, manageable storage bag that I already own, and the rest will be composted, so it can go on to make dirt to grow all of the beautiful things I'll display next year.
Now let's talk about gifts.
I found gifts a little harder to navigate. Unlike decor, gift-giving involves other people. I love my new tiny house lifestyle, but the last thing I wanted to do was stuff my new love of simplicity down someone's throat who wasn't having it. After all, gifts are supposed to be about other people! That being said, though, I have a hard time stomaching a system in which we spend money on things, wrap them in packaging, and give them to people who may or may not want them. This process not only creates waste but also forces our loved ones to store, maintain, and eventually dispose of an item they never agreed to take responsibility for.
I struggled with this one! Gifts are hardwired into our culture, and stores would have us believe they are a necessary part of our celebrations. And it's not just the gifts themselves that give me pause. It's also the unwritten "rules" around gift-giving that stress me out and (in my opinion) make things unnecessarily complicated. Rules, for example, like presents have to be wrapped, and gifts are supposed to surprise people.
I won't be with my family for the holidays this year, but I want them to feel my presence, which means (in part) broaching the loaded topic of presents. But how could I send my family gifts while honoring my new, slower lifestyle? I sat with this one for about a week, and then, Friends, I did something crazy.
I called up my family, and I asked them what they wanted.
Guess what happened? They told me.
Instead of going to a thousand shops and purchasing a bunch of things, and hoping to guess correctly this year, I will be going to two stores to pick up exactly what each member of my four-person family wants. Four people, four items, two stores. Oh, and two Amazon orders for friends.
I. Am. Converted.
The amount of time, money, and emotional bandwidth I've saved by mitigating the gift-giving chaos is blowing my mind. How did this process use to cost hundreds of dollars, take three weeks, and involve wads of tape and swearing?
I don't even know, but I'm grateful. I'm also grateful that my family understands I don't want to receive gifts in the same way that I used to either, and they were gracious enough to return the favor by asking me directly what I want as well.
So what do I want for Christmas now that I live in a tiny house? Well, honestly, not much. I'd like my aunt to send me some of her homemade scrabble, and maybe someone will buy me a book for my Kindle. The only material thing I want is a salad bowl, as I currently eat salads out of a saucepan. Because I live in a tiny house, however, I can only make room for the perfect salad bowl, which is why I will probably be sending a direct link to my sister for precisely the one I want. Does this take some of the romance out of gift-giving? Maybe, but so far, it's totally worth the increase in holiday sanity!
I find it fascinating that my house was responsible for setting this new holiday tone. I tried to buy stuff, and my house didn't like it. So now the holidays are simpler. Thanks, tiny house!
As I mentioned before, I'll be spending the holidays alone- I'm not feeling lonely though! My tiny house has proven to be an excellent companion in the world. It's not like a regular house, it's a living house, and tiny living is an ongoing conversation between home and homeowner.
I'm grateful to my tiny house for bringing peace and simplicity into my life. It's helped me to identify my needs, refine my values, and concentrate on my dreams. My tiny house won't do the work for me, but it will show me how to do the work.
Whatever size of house you're celebrating in this year, remember that you don't have to live tiny to enjoy a tiny house lifestyle. You, too, can change the way you decorate or the way your family handles gift-giving. If there is someone who will be tricky to convince, send them this article! Tell them you want a tiny house holiday this year. Who knows, maybe deep down they agree with you, and all they really want is a little peace and quiet.
Alright, well, that's all for now. Enjoy the season, and may sanity reign supreme. I'll be back soon.
Happy Holidays from the Tiny House of Peace.
Alaska is a writer, realtor, and tiny homeowner living in the great state of Colorado. She is the founder of The Tiny House Concierge, a company that provides education and consultation services for people looking to re-think their housing and re-write their lives. You can find her on Instagram: @tinyhouseconcierge.
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