Our minimalist Christmas

Hand-made gifts lead to richer experiences

Words by Sara Molinatti

Three years ago, my mother and I decided to leave aside the classic Christmas gifts and try to create with our own hands gifts for relatives and friends.

This idea was born from our pleasure to create, from our admiration for craftsmanship and art in general. But above all, it came from a serious commitment to stop buying (most often useless and soulless) gifts and to follow the “no-waste” philosophy that emphasizes recycling, trying to give a second life to many objects and materials that would be a shame to throw away.

We started on an autumn afternoon by reviewing everything we had collected at home. There were a lot of really interesting things! Buttons, shells, pieces of beautiful wood, pebbles from the lake and the sea, from the mountains and the countryside, of all shapes, plus parts of objects that had been damaged, all of which, when married with other items, gave birth to amazing creations. Sifting through these items and creating art from them was really fun. Slowly, the beauty and history of the reused pieces emerged.

We also noticed that the process of actually giving the gifts changed. It was satisfying to think deeply about the person who would receive give the gifts—their characteristics, style, passions, and the phase of life they were in—and then choose from all the materials what could represent that individual. At times it was difficult, but at other ones, it was almost as if the pieces themselves suggested what to do or how to modify the creation.

While the creative process was the best part of this experience, distributing the gifts was also enjoyable. It was interesting to see who appreciated the hand-made gifts and who didn't. It was also very nice to sometimes be invited into the homes of these people later and see our creations still hanging there.

This method of creating and giving gifts, which we'll also be doing this year, knowing that little has been wasted and value has been brought into relationships and our souls, helped us create the sort of Christmas we value, no longer forced, fictitious, or full of objects of dubious usefulness and without history. Instead, we've been able create a real, warm, personal, and creative holiday, focused on sharing, on a greater attention to others, to the planet, and to a better life, with less. This is our Minimalist Christmas.

Sara Molinatti

Sara Molinatti is the kindness ambassador and group leader for Dance for Kindness at the nonprofit association Life Vest Inside, based in New York City. Life Vest Inside deals with social issues such as bullying, depression, and drug abuse, which it seeks to prevent through a proactive approach using the power of change provided by kindness. For four years, Sara has been passionate about minimalism, and she practices and studies it continuously.

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