Christmas has become about excess! It is the season of indulgence in every area of life. It often feels like if we don’t have a lot of stuff we can’t have a good time. If we don’t have a piles of gifts under the tree then we have failed.
But Christmas doesn’t have to be about excess and indulgence. It is possible to have an incredible festive season without all the stuff. In fact, I would argue when you focus on the simple pleasures of life you actually might have more fun.
Make a list and check it twice
Before you just start buying gifts, make a list of who you need to buy for and what they would like. If you don’t know what they want, ask them. Once you have the list, try to find sustainable options for each person, try to stick to what they have asked for as far as possible – even if it is not something you want to buy for them. An easy way to find sustainable gifts is to shop local.
Set a budget
Times are tough at the moment so many of us are working with a tight budget anyway but it is still a good idea to set a budget and stick to it. The sooner you set your budget the better because then you can be on the look out for sales and specials on the items you are looking for. Expensive gifts aren’t always the most appreciated!
Get creative with wrapping
Wrapping paper is expensive and most of it has been made with plastic so it can’t be recycled so ultimately you want to avoid it completely. There are so many options that still allow you to make your gifts look amazing. You can use brown paper (just make sure it doesn’t have a plastic film on it), newspaper or the Furoshiki method. If you use brown paper you can use string, ribbon, stamps, paint and so much more to decorate the paper and create really stunning gifts.
Use what you have
Do you really need a new tree? Do you need to buy a new set of decorations in a different colour? Do you need another red table cloth? Probably not! I haven’t bought new decorations in a few years, each year we just use them a little differently and no one has ever said “But we used that table cloth last year”. If you are crafty you can repurpose decorations – spray paint them a different colour or paint patterns on them. Dye your table cloth or get some fabric paint out and paint on them. Keep all your wrapping paper, ribbons and cards each year and then before you buy more use up what you have.
Plan your meals
We are generally pretty good about using left overs but meal planning can also help with this. If you buy what you need, there is less chance of waste. Don’t just plan your main Christmas meal but also the snacks and meals you will need while on holiday. When you are buying food for your festive feast, source as much as you can locally – buy local produce as much as possible. Avoid just buying masses of treats. If you enjoy baking, bake together as a family. It will create a fun family tradition and homemade cookies are so much better than store bought ones.
Create your own advent calendar
I love advent calendars. A few years ago my mom made us a beautiful handmade calendar with little pockets for each day so we can add in whatever we want each day. The year before last I tried to find sustainable goodies for the kids but it was not easy and worked out pretty expensive. So generally we just add a little chocolate in each day. A few years ago I used little brown envelopes and stuck numbers on them and then added in treats each day. The possibilities really are endless when it comes to advent calendars. While I am not advocating buying new things, I do think the Lego advent calendars are a great option. They give the kids something to do each day, they can be reused and Lego lasts a lifetime.
Send out Christmas e-cards
I will admit I haven’t sent out Christmas cards in many many years. Not only are cards super expensive but our postal service isn’t too reliable so by the time I remember to do it, it is too late for the cards to actually arrive on time. You can design your own cards using something like Canva or there are other platforms you can use to create personalised cards that you can send out easily. I know e-cards aren’t necessarily as festive as real cards but they can be just as special. If you do want to still send out cards – make your own or look for cards that are made on recycled or seed paper.
With a little bit of planning and a lot of intention, you can have an amazing Christmas without overspending or over indulging.