Don’t shop early for Christmas
The way Christmas seeps into everything we do for 2 months before the actual day baffles me. According to the Disneyland ad this year: (2015)
Well I for one don’t.
And I am not being bah humbug about it. It is just that it is only October and the Christmas frenzy has begun.
As has the buying of cards and presents and wrapping paper.
Magazines are already telling you how to have the best Christmas dinner ever, how to dress your table, with gifts for him, for her, for boys, for girls persuading you to spend, spend, spend to fill your house and other people’s houses full of stuff no one needs.
If you don’t do this, you are of course a failure – that is what the ads are telling you. You will be judged on your ability to cook as well as Delia, bake like Mary and style like Kelly Hoppen.
And what happens to all this stuff?
Stuff that will eventually go to landfill.
Stuff that becomes clutter.
Really stop. Repeat after me.
I do not have to spend lots of money to enjoy Christmas.
Soon after Christmas signs will appear in charity shops
Unwanted Christmas Presents.
Last year, a Birmingham restaurant, Fiesta del Asado, was offering money off meals in exchange for a donation of an unwanted Christmas gift. the items were donated to charity.
One of those unwanted gifts may have been bought by you. You know that scarf/nightie/ornament you bought for Auntie Mary? You hated it, knew she would too, and when you gave it her she said ‘you shouldn’t have’ and really meant it. Yet you just had to get her something, because it’s Christmas.
What a waste of time and money.
Many unwanted gifts become clutter. People feel they have to hold onto them due to guilt. Yet you are contributing to their clutter. And that is not a good thing to do.
Instead of giving people gifts they don’t want or need, give to charity instead. Oxfam are one charity that offers gifts for life. One year I bought my mother a bicycle for a midwife in Africa. Mom had a habit of returning to me everything I had ever given her. Of course I was falling into the trap of buying because I thought I had to and she didn’t want the wok, the carving knife, the pasta maker. She hated cooking. For a while I bought her stuff I wanted knowing full well they would be returned to me. Eventually I realised what I was doing so one year I bought my mother a bicycle for a midwife in Africa. She couldn’t return the bike.
Do not get into debt at Christmas
Before you even hit the shops or click the mouse, ask yourself these questions. Can you afford it? Will they love it? Do they need it? People get into debt at Christmas. All for one day.
Save trees, save money, stop sending cards
No one will notice. For many it is a chore. How many times do you hear people complain about having to spend an evening writing cards? And then moan about having to write a letter for each or them.
If that is not reason enough, think of the cost. Postage is so expensive, 63p for 1st and 54p 2nd class. If you send only 10 cards that is £6.30.
I met a woman who sent over 50 cards to people she never sees. Time writing 50 cards, is time you will never get back. And Money. £32 on postage and anything from £10 to £30 on the cards. Think what she could do with that money instead. When I said this to her, you could see the realisation spread across her face. She had never thought like that before.
Your card adds to someone else’s clutter. Out of guilt, they send you one back, then you have 50 on your mantel shelf. And you keep the sentimental ones, baby’s first Christmas, the ones handmade by the children at school. I have just this past week thrown away Christmas and birthday cards (I don’t send these, either) that are 30 years old. If you don’t send them you will have fewer sent to you and more trees may be saved.
What to buy instead of stuff?
You don’t have to buy actual physical stuff. Most people have got all that they need. That is why shops stock novelty Christmas tacky gifts So you can
buy waste money on something for the person who already has everything they need.
Lots of restaurants offer vouchers for lunch or dinner. Has someone ever said how much they would like to go somewhere special? gift it to them this year. Or use one of the many voucher offer sites.
A spa day with a friend. How lovely would it be to spend a day with a friend, catch up and get a massage?
Do they love the ballet or the theatre? Book tickets.Go with them.
What about National Trust membership? A gift that can last for a year or for life and The National Trust benefit too. This also encourages people to visit new places and have days out. Surely that is better than a scarf or a Christmas onesie?
Gift something you no longer want or need
If you, like me, are decluttering gift items you no longer need to others as a present this Christmas. People won’t mind especially if it is a vintage china plate or a signed James Martin cook book. Yes, those were gifts I gave last year. Neither had cost me a penny and the recipients knew that, yet were still very happy with their presents.
It really is the thought that counts.
Download music (legally) instead of giving a CD. The artist still benefits and you are not creating clutter.
Gift Netflix instead of a DVD. Ditto.
Cook a meal or have a potluck dinner party. Spend time with your friends. Not just FaceTime.
Give your time
Make some personalised gift certificates that friends and family can redeem with you. You could personalise them with some of the ideas here.
Go for a walk with a friend. Fresh air and company. Away from the tech.
Offer to babysit for a friend who has children.
Visit your Nan/Mom/Aunt/Grandpa more often. They will appreciate that a lot more than a card and a novelty singing santa.
Someone moving house? Help them with the packing/unpacking/decluttering/hanging pictures.
A cake, some jam, a handmade gift is alway appreciated, especially food. If you aren’t a cake or jam maker (like me) buy cake or jam or chutney from a local maker. Look for a local craft market where local people sell handmade crafts and food. Keep it local. Yes I said local lots of times.
Make a list
And encourage others to do so, too.
Sometimes there are things that people really do want. And that is why I love lists.You know that they are getting exactly what they want and you are not wasting money. In my family the lists usually include a link to where to buy the items too.
Give money – to enhance experiences
My daughter has started the trend of asking for foreign currency. I didn’t like the idea of giving money for gifts, I used t think it was lazy and ostentatious. My Uncle used to iron money (yes he ironed money) and then displayed it inside the card so everyone could see how generous he was. And how he valued you. Now, as my family travel more, currency to spend on holiday, always good.
Plant a tree
You are not sending cards but others are. We need more trees.Why not buy a tree for a friend and The National Forest? More information here.
Go on holiday. Rent a big house in the country and go for walks and play board games. No tree and no presents. I know that this may make you feel uncomfortable, but what if you did? You won’t know if you don’t do it.
Then read this blog post 20 Ways to Declutter for the Holidays or these:
Just seen this on 30/12/2015 – not even the New Year and 4 Birmingham restaurants are offering a discount for donations of unwanted gifts. I did try to tell you…..