Petrone Minimalist Christmas Experience

Just about two years of living in an RV forced us into minimalism. Ok not “forced” but it was a good kick in the butt. When we sold our 2800 sqft 5 bedroom house, I sold just about everything we owned. We had a small storage unit of stuff that as time went on, got smaller and smaller. Why? Because we realized we just didn’t need all of that crap. It seriously is that guys… crap. Now some things we hold at a high value either because of what it cost us or because what those things mean to us, but it is all just stuff. And for the most part, it is just a bunch of crap.

A few month later and now back to living in a house (1392 soft), the rules haven’t changed friends. Buy what you love, keep what you love, get rid of the rest. So first thing before Christmas, clean out! I mean really clean out. Something that helps with kids is cleaning out while they’re gone… lol… Im kidding but not really. Seriously its the best. BUT if you can’t or don’t feel good with that, I sort with them. Put all of their toys into categories and piles. Pick a minimal number for each category and have them pick that many out that they want to keep. The rest, gets donated. SO many bonuses to this method. The kids have a choice so they are truly picking things they love AND this is an awesome opportunity to talk to your kids about how important and generous it is to donate toys to those in need.

After you’ve done all of that… we can get down to gift giving. What to buy your kids for Christmas, keeping things minimalistic. Im just gonna lay it all out here in a list. This is what we have done the last two years and its been awesome. My kids didn’t notice a difference and thought Christmas was amazing.

  1. Experiences. This is number one and if you only did this, you’re winning. Winning because its awesome and fun. And winning because your giving your kids the best gift, memories. Experiences can mean so many different things to each family. Depending on budget and where you live. But let me throw out a few ideas; movies, disneyland, ice cream trip, kids picking their favorite restaurant, arcade, zoo, lego land, beach trip, pottery painting, skiing/sledding day, hiking, music lessons, horse back riding lessons, extra sport activity… just to name a few.
  2. Board Games. This one is a huge winner in our family. My kids have learned to love board games. This includes card games, darts, chess, and traditional board games. The sky is the limit and these really bring siblings and family together.
  3. Crafts.  I will buy my kids all the paper and pens and crafts they want. Nothing is more awesome then seeing their little minds explore and get creative. There are so many inexpensive ways to go about this and at the bottom I will list out my go-to spots to purchase all of these.
  4. Books. Let them get lost in books. Your kid doesn’t like reading? Ya, either did mine. My boys hated it until this last year (4th and 2nd grade now). What changed? Well a few things. School is most likely a huge contributor as well as them being able to have the freedom to pick out there own books. I love taking them to the thrift shop or to garage sales to pick out their own books. They just love that freedom of choice.
  5. Fresh Pjs, slippers, and a robe. Nothing cozier than a fresh set of jams. My babies love them. And I love that I can really personalize this gift for them. My oldest loves puppies, middles loves super hero’s and Quinn loves kitties. This gives them a really individualized gift.
  6. A special friend (stuffed animal). Although we don’t have toys, my kids are still so young at heart and they love having a special animal. Usually if they do get one, they get rid of one at home. Thus keeping with our minimalist style. And also that really helps them think with intention when they pick a new one out. Just as it does for us adults! Its a great thing to teach our kids.
  7. Outdoor activities. This is the one the grandparents usually purchase. People ask me all the time what I tell family members to get the kids for gifts, this is usually it. Chalk, trampoline, bike, skate board, jump rope, bubbles, balls, hockey sticks… I mean you could go nuts with this. But it gets those kids playing!


There are so many spots to shop inexpensively for these gifts. Here are a few of my favorites; Home goods, Tj Maxx, Ross, amazon, Target, thrift stores, garage sales, Marshalls, and Craigslist.

My hope is that this Christmas season we all remember why we are celebrating in the first place! And that my simple gift guide takes a little of that Holiday stress away. Enjoy the Season friends!

Ashley Petrone @arrowsandbow

15 thoughts on “Petrone Minimalist Christmas Experience

  1. Thank you so much for the great Christmas gift giving ideas. We have 5 grandchildren 11 year old twins, 12 year old twins and a 2 year old. It gets expensive to try and get everyone what they want. So I live the idea of doing an activity.


  2. I cannot thank you enough for this post. Having raised 7 kids and now with numerous grandkids I do LOTS of Christmas shopping every year. Wrapping gifts, spreadsheet of who gets what and how the budget is doing, mailing gifts, whew! I had decided it was a good year to make a change and wanted to gift the families with children ‘experiences’ this year. Your blog gives me so many ideas and I’m excited to start researching for the possibilities. This will be a different year for
    Is. Thank you!


  3. We are taking our kids (21, 19, 17, 15 & 13 to a state park inn this year. They all have jobs except for the youngest and so they buy what they want, when they want. I hate that I dislike the holidays so much because of the financial crunch and the crazy busy schedules. So this year we’re going away for 4 days and having stocking stuffers on Christmas morning after we read about Jesus’s birth. I can’t wait!!


  4. This is the way to do it! As my kids grow (5 & 3), I want them to understand that Christmas isn’t about toys, it’s about cherishing togetherness! The truth is I remember being amazed when I was a kid at seeing my parents living room filled up with gifts under the tree one year, but the only thing i can truly remember to this day from that Christmas are the bikes my sister and I received because we used them together, and mousetrap bc my dad set it up and played it with us !!!


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