Updated: Nov 26, 2020
Zero DIY craft required
When I was a kid, Christmas was undoubtedly the most magical time of the year. The pretty lights, decorated trees, and growing mountains of presents in anticipation of Christmas Day felt like pure magic.
As an adult, however, Christmas has started to feel icky at times. There is still the anticipation of this big day, yet now it seems to be served with the added pressure to express my love and gratitude for those around me through consumerism. I almost feel like I’m being tricked or forced to spend money on unnecessary items which will ultimately contribute to landfill and pollution.
I hate to be a grinch but once you start to see the impact of unused, unnecessary packaging and plastics and materials not to mention the wasted energy and water used in the production of these goods, it can’t be unseen. It’s a wormhole.
Instead, I’ve decided to focus on what I can control. Starting with my own gifting habits. Here are five of my favourite tips and tricks for sustainably and mindfully consuming and gifting over the Christmas period, or just anytime really.
My Favourite Tips & Tricks for Mindfully Consuming & Gifting...
1. Who do you actually have to buy for?
Generosity is an incredible trait, yet when it comes to gift-giving, spending more money on more things and more consumption does not make you a better human.
Instead, be generous with your time, be generous with your support and be generous with your energy creating a genuine connection with those you love. Instead of fancy presents and tangible gifts, could you meet a friend for dinner or drinks or a virtual date? Could you call a family member you haven’t spoken to in a while and help them with a challenge they are facing or celebrate a win they’ve recently had?
In our busy world, sometimes just being prioritized, seen, and heard by those around us is the most powerful gift.
2. Think experiences over tangible items.
Chances are your sister in law does not need more perfume or cookbooks or another fancy candle for her to never use. The truth is if she really needed any of these things she would have already bought them for herself.
Instead, if your sister-in-law loves beauty maybe purchase a subscription to a Patreon beauty page on her behalf? If she’s into food, write an IOU to dinner at the newest restaurant in town. Or if she loves personal development, consider purchasing a session with a life coach or an online personal development course.
If 2020 has taught us anything, surely it is that the internet is a vast and creative place where almost anything is possible and for sale. Think gift vouchers, subscriptions (hello Medium), IOU’s, why not get a little cheesy? Side note, I’m pretty sure you can buy fancy cheese-delivery subscriptions online as well.
3. Ask what people actually want?
If you absolutely must buy a gift, please just ask the person what they actually want. What will they actually use or enjoy or value in their life?
There is nothing worse than getting a gift you don't like or worse a gift you will never use. What do you do with this thing? Donate it? Accidently break it? Re-gift it? The guilt is real.
So ask people what they want, or be sneaky and ask their closest friends or family for specific ideas. Maybe they are feeling stressed out after a long crazy year and could do with a spa day? Maybe they have always dreamed of hot air ballooning or taking pasta making classes. Each to their own.
Conversely, tell people what you want and/or will actually use. Embrace your inner child and reflect on the long Santa lists you used to mail to the North Pole, and detail exactly what is missing from your life, or simply what you would enjoy more of!
Everyone likes food. Home-made chocolates are the best gift ever, in my opinion. Bake cookies, decorate cupcakes, pickled veggies, or make your own curry paste. Nothing says “I care about you” more than a home-cooked meal.
If you can’t be together, send your loved one a recipe and zoom link and set up a time to cook alongside one-another online. Embrace the opportunity and have some fun, because this genuine connection is always going to be more memorable than a pair of socks, even if they do have your dog’s face on them.
If you don’t cook, that’s not an excuse, there are infinite delivery services now available so check out your local area and see what you can find. Specialty vegan doughnuts, edible cheese bouquets, wine delivery, there is something for everyone!
5. Support small, local businesses.
As a small business owner, I appreciate every sale. I get up and dance around, it makes my day, every single time. Yet, somehow I don’t think Jeff Bezos is doing the same.
I like to think of each dollar I spend as a vote for what I want to see more of in the world. And for me, that is small businesses built on strong community values and principles which make our world a better place. If you too value these principles, look for businesses that support women, sustainability, minority groups and use your dollars/votes to help them grow.
I encourage you to think about your values as you spend your dollars this season. Because at the end of the day, it’s not about one person doing this perfectly, it’s about millions of people mindfully consuming and gifting imperfectly.
This is how we make the world a better place.