Christmas has become a crazy season. Everyone you talk to is stressed about finding gifts, seeing their extended families or fitting in time for all of their commitments. For many years now my family and I have boycotted Christmas, opting to ditch presents and spend he day relaxing in each others company, free from and added commitments and stress. For years I didn't understand why its so important to buy something for someone, only to have them buy something for you in return. I thought, why don't I just buy myself what it is I need and only what I need; and skip all the added stress. The thing I do find a little challenging however, is how much I love to give to others. Over the years I have come up with a number of tokens and gestures that are personal, eco friendly and assist in the spirit of giving.
1. Bake something special
We have an amazing South African biscuit recipe, the biscuits are called rusks and they're a hard seedy biscuit that is dunked into coffee or tea. I absolutely love giving this as a Christmas gift. They're healthy, delicious and hold so many beautiful memories for me. Sharing this little piece of my heritage is something really special and holds so much love. If you'd like to try this recipe I will link it below but making a recipe of your own is a great idea too. I finish off the gift by packing the rusks into reused glass jars and adding a note or flower onto the side.
Yes you read that correctly, while I know regifting is a bit of a foux pas its actually a great way to reduce waste. Sometimes you are gifted with something that you just aren't going to use, I believe its better to give it to someone who will actually use it than it is to simply discard it. Now please be careful when regifting that you don't get yourself into any trouble. A couple of years ago I was working in a health food store and I man came in and gave me a juicer he couldn't sell and he was leaving the country. I didn't need a juicer at the time so I gifted it to my mom for Christmas, I did tell her it wasn't bought and it was second hand but she loved it anyway. I also gave my sister a pair of shoes that I had bought for myself but ended up being too small for me. I think if gifts are given in a genuine way then people don't mind where they originally came from.
3. The gift of service
We are all so busy and this time of year is when people put their needs aside and become exhausted. Rather than giving then another scented candle why not give them a class pass to a beautiful yoga studio or a voucher for a relaxing kinesiology or acupuncture session? Give them something that'll help them replenish their energy stores and take part in some self care. If that feels a little too pricy then why not give them a service you can offer, a hand cleaning the car, a head massage or even a cooked meal for all the mums working non stop. These are things that are way more personal and special. You can do the same for children instead of buying another plastic toy that will likely be discarded a few days after Christmas. Give children a voucher to a craft class, music lessons or even take them on an adventure yourself. Teach them to do a sporting activity or spend time baking with them.
4. Say no to "Should"
In our house this is a bad word because the word should usually comes before something tedious, taxing or energy depleting. I have some examples: "I should buy them a present because they'll probably get me one but I have no idea what to buy." "I should host Christmas again this year because everyone prefers me to do it." "I should go to all six Christmas parties I've been invited to even though I'm overloaded."
Nothing good ever follows a should, so this year stick to the things you enjoy. Set some boundaries about what you do and don't want to do and then stick to it. It doesn't need to be as stressful as we all make it.
5. Make, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
If theres something you can make, like the rusks or homemade clay decorations, a eco wreath or DIY Christmas cards; then opt for DIY instead of buying something. Pinterest is filled with do it yourself eco friendly Christmas ideas. If you can't make, try reuse last years decorations or get some from your local op shop. Every year tons of Christmas decorations are thrown into the landfill, so let's try reduce that. If it's impossible to do it yourself then please pick more sustainable decorations like cardboard, glass and metal as opposed to plastic. If you do buy then spend on quality items that will last longer than cheap throwaway products. That goes for present wrapping too. There are also a hundred ways to creatively wrap presents without buying anything new or using any plastic. I save brown paper bags and tissue paper whenever I get it and use that as wrapping. I also use kitchen string, twine or ribbon off clothing for bows. Use dried or fresh flowers to bring some colour in. Again Pinterest has thousands of ideas for making presents look beautiful and waste free!
6. Buy local, sustainable, needed and environmentally friendly.
We are spoilt for choice when it comes to eco friendly options. There are so many beautiful local brands doing their best to save our environment so why not support them. There are beautiful skin care products, crystal shops, eco clothing stores and homewares. Buy something that the person really needs, something they'll use daily to reduce waste, like a metal reusable water bottle, a keep cup, a metal or glass lunch box, eco make up brushes and non toxic soaps or lotions.
7. Why are we stressing?
Christmas definitely isn't about how much money you spend on presents, how much food you cook or how perfectly you decorate the house. I think this is something we all forget when we get wrapped up in the craziness of it all. This is a time for family and connection, nothing needs to be perfect. Ditch the stressing and enjoy time spent with your family, friends and the people you care about. Spend some time reflecting on the year that has passed, noticing all your achievements. Slow down, spend some time resting and rejuvenating yourself. This doesn't not have to be a stressful time, you can change the way you see the holiday season.