Christmas: I tried to like it. But I just don’t. I have to accept that now. Before you dismiss me as a festive Scrooge I would like to plead my case and share all the things I have done to make it less stressful and more personal.
Reason 1 to hate Christmas: consumerism
Browsing Amazon or supermarket gifts aisles to swap gifts with people for the sake of it is probably the most soul destroying thing modern society has produced. I LOVE giving gifts. I love hunting down personal items that people need and enjoy. But Christmas creates an intense gift selection period that you really should have been prepping all year round.
- I keep a note file in Toodledo app and when I hear people talking about things they need or like, I write them down.
- I’ve gone the personalised gift route, getting the bumper gift pack of the school photo, or making calendars and phone covers from the children’s artwork.
- Home made gifts: I actually do like a bit of crafting and cooking, so last year sourced Victorian style bottles with corks and blended flavoured gins and vodkas for family members. I used raffia ribbon and plain brown tags to label. And I really enjoyed doing it.
- Secret santa: we introduced this as a family and it’s more or less worked. There’s less stress in getting a ‘wow’ gift for the whole gang on Christmas day.
- Buy only for kids. With some of the family and friends, we agreed to buy only for each other’s kids.
Reason 2 to hate Christmas: cards
The card, the manufacturing process, the posting and sending is an eco nightmare. “But not if you use charity cards, they rely on the income,” someone says to you. Sigh. Just bung them the money instead! Send your transatlantic friend a personalised e-card. Make a video using iMovie, just for them. Create a family photo slide show for Auntie so and so, pop it on an e-mail or flash drive and send it.
- I don’t send them. We receive them but I’ve been so vocal about it, the delivery is getting fewer and fewer. It is nice to get them, I decorate the house with them, so they are not sent in vain.
- I give the equivalent cost of sending cards to Friends of the Earth and Wikipedia every year now. Two causes very personal to me. It makes me happy. (There is no selfless good deed after all).
- Make cards. For the Grandmas and Grandpas and their school friends, we make cards. Yes, ok we use paper and stuff but it doubles up as handwriting practice and creative free play.
Reason 3 to hate Christmas: “Let’s catch up before Christmas”
Why? Why? What’s going to happen after Christmas? The apocalypse? Will you explode from over-eating mince pies? No. I am lucky to have so many good friends nearby in Brighton. Chances are most of us will catch up during December (there’s a few birthdays too). As for everyone else, well let’s chill and catch up on our terms eh?
- Have a Christmas ‘open house’ one day. If anyone wants to catch up with you, they can come.
- Or, like a very clever friend of mine, book a free function room at a local pub and invite everyone for a Christmas gathering.
- Put off the stressy, “let’s meet up friend” by booking a super fabulous day out in January. Something to push aside January blues.
Reason 4 to hate Christmas: calorie and booze overload.
As well as mass consumerism of plastic rubbish for your kids, we seem to have embraced the season for glutton too. Traditional winter fare is actually pretty tasty; roast dinners, hearty soups, hot pots and pigs in blankets. But with mass food manufacturers and supermarkets trying to stuff our trolleys with huge tubs of chocolates and biscuits then Christmas special meals on offer just about everywhere, it’s hard not to be a party pooper when it comes to socialising with food. It’s comfort food at its best and the festival season gives us plenty of excuses to indulge.
- Instead of three courses for festive meals, cut it down to two with light canopes doubling up as nibbles and starters e.g. smoked salmon on oat thins, gazpacho or mini arancini balls.
- Arrange meet ups in places with lighter or healthier meal options throughout the festive season. In Brighton we have no excuse!
- Switch the £5 tub of Quality Street for Sussex-made Montezuma. More expensive but easier to savour for longer. Or make some chocolatey energy balls. We like Jamie’s recipe.
For more Christmas ideas which don’t wreck the planet or break the budget visit one of our favourite bloggers (who just happens to be local) Eco Thrifty Living.
Miss our Christmas radio show? You can listen again here.