Christmas is a time to be spent with family and friends, indulging in extra cake servings, feeling all warm and fuzzy and being surrounded by tiny colourful lights and happy songs.
What’s not to love?
For starters… a pandemic, right?
Things are going to be a tad different this year and we won’t probably be able to hold big family gatherings, let alone celebrating New Year’s Eve with tons of friends… but does this inevitably mean that Christmas time is not going to be great?
By all means, no.
If we stop for a second and think about what this festivity actually means we might be reminded that it shouldn’t be about crazy shopping sprees and presents related performance anxiety, but rather about the core values that truly represent the ideal society we would all like to belong to.
While it might be virtually impossible to completely detach from consumerism, there are ways to support local shops and businesses (which have taken a huge blow in this 2020), to save some money and to exchange presents in a responsible, sensible and original way.
Here come 7 ideas to help you out with the task, watching the penny and being eco-friendly!
1 Ethical homemade treats
Christmas is about food and it is quite fair to say that the amount of cooking in each household grows exponentially during the festivities.
So, while you’re at it, why not cook and bake some extra servings to be handed out to family and friends?
If you get your groceries at a farmers market, you’ll get amazingly fresh produce that will allow you to prepare healthy and delicious jams, biscuits and preserves whilst helping out local producers and reducing your carbon footprint.
How’s that for an ethical Christmas?
You also get to reuse old jars, declutter your pantry and create a teeny tiny circular recycling system between you and your loved ones.
Repurposed items are a gift that keeps on gifting!
2 Propagated plants
It is a fact well known that plants have many superpowers such as purifying the air and transforming our homes in greener, healthier and more pleasant environments.
These key factors have indeed a great impact on our mood, productivity and overall well-being, so why not give a little piece of that to our family members and dearest friends?
Most of the indoors plants we already own are incredibly easy to propagate with cuttings that just need to be placed in water (Pothos, Rosemary, Philodendron, Tradescantia, Papyr) or by root division (ZZ Plant, Peace Lily, Snake Plant, Ferns) to be repotted in new soil.
Donating a little piece of green joy shows that we care about others and their welfare, in the hopes that one day their little cutting will become a whole new mother plant ready to be propagated again. Talk about the circle of life, uh?
3 Sustainable wooden toys
While the little ones might really appreciate our baked treats, the thing that really makes them happy at Christmas is unwrapping the toys left by Santa.
Can consumerism be avoided when tasked with the mission of thinking about kids’ presents?
It sure can, if we think about the toys that countless generations have been passing down for decades: wooden trains, blocks, animals, stacking items, dolls can really boost a child’s imagination and creativity while developing their sense of touch and intelligence.
If that is not enough, let’s ask ourselves this simple question: in a world that is tragically polluted and contaminated, do we really want our kids to play with plastic and synthetic objects?
4 Local experience
In times like the one that we are currently living on, travelling abroad has dramatically slid down the bucket list but even if this brings us great sadness for lost opportunities, it also provides us with the chance to reconsider and appreciate what is right in front of our nose.
No matter where we live, there are plenty of activities that can be done that have always been discarded because “they’re just there and I can do it whenever I want”.
How many museum trips, exhibitions, guided walking tours, teaching farms have we overlooked?
Wouldn’t it be great to give tickets as presents so that our loved ones can take a break and nurture themselves with some culture, experiences and new memories while helping out the local economy?
5 Train vouchers
Depending on where we live, some of us commute by train and some of us spend endless hours trapped in cars stuck in traffic.
We all know someone who is tragically stressed about one of those two ways of living and a simple gesture can help alleviate the pain connected to this crazy, hectic lifestyle.
The first thing that we could do for our public transportation depending friends, would be buying a subscription for them so that we could at least help them save some money to make that time a little bit more enjoyable.
For those subjected to road rage, a train voucher to be used on a weekend getaway could help them get away from the steering wheel for a couple of days and let their hair loose.
In both cases we would be also helping out the environment, taking cars off the streets thus reducing CO2 emissions.
Isn’t that great?
6 Ethical clothes
I hear you, I hear you and you are right… sometimes clothes do make people truly happy and we shouldn’t deprive ourselves for the sake of sustainability.
However… How many horrid scarves have you received over the years? How many itchy pairs of socks? How many poor quality pyjamas? How many of those clothes have ended up in the garbage?
The smartest choice is investing in quality items that were produced using natural fibers by companies which really care about the environment and their workers paying fair wages.
Not only those products don’t play a part in the toxic fast-fashion industry model, but they are also superior in terms of quality, design and overall feeling on the body.
Choosing clothes such as these also means giving something unique that has not been mass produced and is worn by millions of people to those who have a special place in your heart.
7 Rescue pets
At some point in our lives we’ve all wanted a pet and you probably know some kids who are currently plaguing their parents requesting a kitten or a puppy.
There are millions of abandoned cats and dogs all over the world looking for a house and human friends to cheer up: if Christmas is about caring, being charitable and re-centering our souls we could also take into consideration the domesticated species which cohabit the planet with us.
Animals teach children responsibility and keep company to those who are feeling alone or going through a rough period, at the ridiculous cost of nothing.
Adopting a new family member will bring joy and a breath of fresh air in every household: information about local shelters can be easily found on the internet
So, are you ready for a more frugal and yet richer Christmas this year?
I bet you are. And while you’re wrapping the amazing presents you have made yourself or responsibility purchased, don’t forget to reuse materials that you already have to surprise everyone with original gift wraps!