Hannah here: Christmas time is but a short hop, skip and jump around the corner, so despite the fact that it's still technically November *whispers* we're going for it with the Christmas posts. If like me, it feels like its jumped out of nowhere with a bellowing ‘Boo’, you may appreciate some of the ideas we’ve come up with below to simply things a little.
I love Christmas more and more as I get older, in a strange adult/child reversal. But I hate what a god-awful consumer fest it has become. I read somewhere that apparently over 3 million brits are still paying off last Christmas. Whaaaat?! But it's not hard to see why- It’s so easy to be overwhelmed with gift guides and wish lists, adverts telling you to BUY MORE, party dress buying guides, and essential holiday makeup ideas, and, and, and…. and before you know it you’ve spent hundreds, if not thousands, of pounds buying gifts for everyone, new outfits, Christmas films, stocking fillers and food. But it doesn’t have to be this way, I feel so so sure of it!
Davina and I were talking last month and both felt that surely, if we focus on celebrating the season- the solstice, the frost and the cold, the fires that warm us…if we try to decorate simply and give thoughtfully…. if we focus on the giving, rather than the receiving….then maybe those things will help us to reconnect to what Christmas is about- love, grace, giving, family and community. Christmas shouldn’t mean being totally strung out, in dept, and a planet struggling with the huge influx of unwanted presents, wrapping and food waste festering in landfill.
To begin, here are 9 ideas to have a thrifty, low consuming Christmas! Please please join in below in the comments if you have any more ideas!
Christmas is a horrible time for some people for all sorts of reasons. Consider donating money or time to a homelessness charity (or one of your choice) We are currently selling tons of stuff on eBay and have opted to give 10% of everything we sell to a charity that provides a meal for a family struggling to make ends meet in the UK. You could donate to the Big Issue or contact your local food bank and offer to collect donations or help pack boxes (we're also planning on doing this this year). Time Bank has tons more ideas too.
I am coming to realise that kids don’t need that many toys at all. In fact too much stuff can be damaging, and the planet certainly doesn’t need all the plastic fumes clogging up the ozone layer, so think about alternatives (we have a post coming up to help with that!)
Bypass the stocking.
I know, I know, Not only should you avoid toys, you should deprive your kids of a stocking too! Baaaah humbug. But most of those pound shop stocking fillers end up in landfill anyway. Alternatively, wrap small but useful things, or little parcels of food. We arent doing a stocking but my 2 year is going to be utterly delighted to unwrap mini pats of butter and cream cheese (err, yeah. she loves butter), boxes of raisins, buttons, individual crayons and pencils and individual socks!
Buy fewer presents!
”Have an “I won’t if you won’t” agreement with friends and family and save money and hassle. We have done this with my family this year and I feel light as a feather. No stress! Or set up a secret santa for friends and family, like we have done with Dave’s family this year.
If friends and family are still keen to buy you or your kids presents, choose one big thing and ask for contributions toward it: driving lessons, a bike etc, a spa day. Patchwork Present offer a service to help with just that. We’re using them this year for Frankie’s present.
Make, make make
Make, rather than buy presents, wherever possible, or buy second hand. Chutneys and jams make lovely, thrifty presents. We made tons of Seville orange marmalade in January which we saved for Christmas. (organised or what? eh, eh?) Make your own simple cards printed on to recycled paper. You can use the image at the top of the post to create Christmas cards if you'd like! An early gift from us to you. Or send it as an e-card/ newsletter instead.
They are tax-evading, union-busting bullies; undercutting and consequently bankrupting tons of independent companies. Those next day delivery deals are tempting I know. And I’m not perfect. But I’ve found that eBay has most of what Amazon has.
Focus on the season
Focus on the seasonal delights of Christmas- the winter solstice, evergreens, candle light, log fires, Jack frost. Thats where the real magic is, creating traditions around those things.
Use recycled wrapping
Use fabric wrapping paper from your stash, if you can. Or use old newspaper, tarted up with string or wool or fancy gift tags. Even if you have to buy the fabric, it’s better than wasting paper as the fabric can be re-used year after year.
Buy or rent a living tree
Our tree is waiting for us in the garden as we bought a small potted tree last year that we have managed to keep alive. An essentially free tree! Alternatively there are companies all over the UK that offer the option of renting a living tree, do an internet search for a company near you.
As I have mentioned (/whinged on about) in the last couple of blog posts, I’m in a bit of a busy, stressful time, so one of my key drivers is saving time, as well as money. The emphasis for me is on thriftiness, thoughtfulness and simplicity. We’ll be building on each of these themes in the coming weeks, with help from some lovely friends; simple natural decorating ideas, alternative gift ideas, tutorials and some freebies too, so watch this space.
I hope you'll allow me to wish you a rather early, yet hearty, Happy Christmas! We'll still be posting our normal parenting and adventure posts in the midst of Christmas fest (I still have lots more of our trip to share with you all), so you're catered for if you're not that into Christmas!
We are also thrilled to be working with illustrator Emilie Maguin on a few projects, including the wonderful Christmas poster/ free printable christmas card at the top of the post. This is for personal use only; a little gift from us to you! We love her work so much, check out her portfolio here and shop here and watch out for her in upcoming posts. Thanks so much Emilie.