It is the most wonderful time of year… or, at least, it is supposed to be. Yet, for many, Christmas can equal excess expectations and extreme expense or indulgence. Has it all become a bit too ‘extra’ for most of us?
Fortunately, 2019 looks set to be the year that ‘excessmas’ takes a back seat. Research reveals a backlash against the Insta-perfect of prepping, cooking, gorging and one-upmanship shopping.
Apparently, we are done with spending £596 on gifts and £159 on food – just for Christmas Day, without the drinks! Also, that’s not for all of the extended family – it’s for an average household. The trend for this Christmas is more thoughtful and sustainable gifts. We want a more meaningful time with the family instead of peeling potatoes and sprouts.
Make gifting more joyful
Ditch the mindset of buying tat, you will waste pennies and precious time. 71% of us have unused gifts at home. In fact, it is estimated that you probably have £708 of unwanted presents received over the years. Do not focus on what you would like to give, focus on what they would like to receive even if it is boring and practical in your eyes.
- Speak to friends and family and agree to buy just one present they will love
- For acquaintances or colleagues, why not forgo the gifts and donate to charity instead?
- Or, spend the money on a meal out, choosing a local business rather than a national chain
- Try your hand at making gifts, a DIY photo album with a note about what the picture means to you will also get you reminiscing
- Try a gifting experience; instead, something you can do together. Perhaps a spa day, trip to the theatre, night out at a comedy club…
- Hit the high street and keep it local, on average you can burn 463 calories on a 4-hour shopping spree
We can not get away from being told how we should be more environmentally responsible, and rightly so. The commercial gift wrap that is thrown away every year is a whopping 227,000 miles worth – enough to reach the moon! This year think zero waste and make eco-wrapping a doddle.
- Cover gifts with scarves or fabric. It looks retro and adds a nice hand-made touch
- Use newspapers, magazines or leaflets. Add a ribbon or a string or twine for a more rustic touch
- Make the wrapping extra special by adding compostable extras such as leaves, ferns or garden flowers
- Save paper and gift bags to re-use
Say no to calendar cramming
On average, we travel 5.6 billion miles to visit 257 million people at this time of year, so it is unsurprising that some people with anxiety have experienced panic attacks at Christmas.
- Plan a weekly self-care evening; a cinema date, get out into the elements or a bit of pampering
- Consider why you are seeing that person? If it is out of duty, reconsider, or set boundaries, so it is a quick coffee rather than a whole evening
- Everyone is busy at this time of year, can your catch-up be postponed for the new year, when you both will have more time?
- Ring fence time with your loved ones, it is about quality, not quantity
- Switch your phone off for the day, and plan an activity with the family or friends to take your mind off the pending notifications
Buying children’s gifts
If you are spoiling your children this year, a fostering agency has launched a campaign to ask parents or guardians to say that they have bought the bigger presents. This does not mean saying that Santa does not exist. Understandably, some do want to spoil their children at this time of year, but buying the iPads and pricier gifts that are unattainable by those on a low-income or for children who are bouncing around from home to home, are left feeling that Santa does not like them very much – or that they have been bad.
The campaign asks that you say that you have worked hard this year, and have bought the following presents, but Santa has delivered these – it could be pyjamas, new clothes or smaller toys.
Is it time to give back?
In December, foodbanks see 49% more referrals than in any other month. It may be worth contacting your nearest and see how you can get involved. Perhaps you can make it a monthly thing?
Along with this, can you visit an isolated neighbour? Making friends on your street or your estate, especially with the older residents is an old fashioned way of building a community, but it is making a resurgence. You do not necessarily need to invite them to Christmas lunch, but perhaps you can prepare them a plate and pop it over?
Again, if you have any friends that are estranged from their family, can you include them in your celebrations? Perhaps, they can come over in the evening when the drinks will be flowing and get them to join in the annual game of charades?
Clampdown on the food waste
Let’s be fair, do we need 5 boxes of Quality Street and Roses, stollen, festive chocolate log, and all of the other glorious savoury treats that are on sale at Christmas? If the past is any indication of the future, this year we will chuck out 2 million turkeys, 74 million mince pies and 5 million Christmas puddings. We can all do our bit to reduce the food waste mountain.
- On the lead up to Christmas day, defrost and use up the contents of your freezer so you will have plenty of room for all the leftovers
- Write a meal plan to avoid panic or impulsive buys
- Reduce food miles by shopping locally, especially farmers market and farm retail shops
- Ask any guests to bring an empty container, or use one of yours, so they can take extra food home with them
- Do not throw any scraps away during the food prep, freeze them for making soups, relishes and broths
Want to learn more about sustainability?
If reusing and reducing are important to you, or if you want to know more about your impact on the environment, there are few books I recommend you check out. How Bad Are Bananas?* This is an often hilarious look on a very serious subject, which really opened my eyes. How To Give Up Plastic* is written by campaigner Will McCallum and gives practical small changes so you can make a difference.
* Real Girls Wobble is a participant in the Amazon EU Associates Programme, an affiliate advertising programme designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.co.uk. I only recommend products that I have used and love.