Do We Need To Buy To Give?
One week to Christmas and there’s a word I’m sick of. Not festive or joy or even BoneyM. Those words are happy and nostalgic and invoke images of rosy-cheeked children, twinkling lights, chocolate balls – and if like me you live near the sea – slip-slops and tourists.
Nope, the word I’m talking about is give. In today’s consumerist Christmas culture, give has become synonymous with buy. Let’s face it, how excited are your children really going to be when presented with crocheted bedsocks and layered cookie mix in a jar? Even if they come from a Waldorf school. [Okay, Waldorf school kids might get a little excited at the cookie mix].
Face it, when we think about all the beautiful things we could buy for our loved ones, our hearts beat faster and we imagine a better future because of it. We imagine the joy we’ll bring, the need we’ll fill, the delight our clever gift picking will create. We imagine we’ll be appreciated, valued, loved.
Here’s the thing. Buying can’t buy you happiness. Or love. Buying buys you momentary attention and debt and clutter. For the joy of opening tons of presents on Christmas Day, what we’re actually teaching our children are consumerist values that will last a lifetime.
So how about doing it differently this year?
Just like when stopping sugar, you don’t have to do it all in one go. This year, keep calm and choose one thing that doesn’t involve a credit card. Every small change you make will stimulate another small change, and then another, and another, until you find your way back to the true spirit of giving.
Here’s some inspiration.
1. Make your own Christmas crackers. It’s a very convenient way to offer something small but personalised to every guest. You don’t have to get fancy. Recycled gift wrap around toilet roll inners and a seedpod or a pretty leaf to jolly it up, are enough.
2. Write a special note. Christmas and birthdays are the perfect time to tell people how much they mean to you. Write on a mug, frame a poem, list all the reasons you love someone on strips of coloured paper. I gave my husband this gift a few years back and it’s still one of his most cherished presents.
3. Bake something. The children love this one, especially if it involves lots of licking. You can stick with tradition and make ginger cookies or fruit mince pies, or do something more suited to our hotter weather like dipping figs in chocolate. Homemade bread, pickles or herbed oils are a treat for those preferring something savoury.
4. Scented candles, a flash drive with favourite songs, a framed photograph, stationery and a personalised t-shirt don’t need to cost the earth and are good gifts for tricky teenagers.
5. Me time. This one’s for you. Move mini mountains to give yourself time off this Christmas. There’s nothing quite like putting your feet up with something tall and cold to restore your sense of wellbeing.
There you are. Five ideas, and a challenge to do something simple this festive season, guaranteed to bring back your yo-ho-ho.
What ideas do you have to #keepchristmassimple? Tell us in the comments.