Who likes Christmas shopping? If the thought of trawling through jostling shops to buy cheap chocolate for your uncles while being bombarded with forced cheery carols makes you flinch, you’re not alone. Do not fear! There is another way!
Set gift limits – buy less. Discuss with your family or whoever you feel that you will be obliged to buy for. You could decide to set a limit (perhaps $5-50, depending on ages and incomes), reduce who you buy for (such as presents for children only, or each extended family only buys for their own children), or run a Secret Santa scheme.
Now that my siblings are grown up, we organise a Christmas Secret Santa between ourselves and our partners. One of us will pull names out of a hat, and email everyone with the name of the person they are to buy a gift for. That way we can afford to buy something decent, and we don’t feel under pressure to spend as much as higher-earning siblings because we set a limit (usually $50, depending on the lowest income earner) so it’s equitable.
If your family is open, you could ask if they are willing to buy only local presents, no new plastics, only fair trade products, etc. Local gifts are a good start, meaning produced in your town or city, or within 100km, or whatever is practical. If family members travel for Christmas, they could bring gifts from their home region.
Asking everyone in your family to buy local will magnify your support of your local economy. It also prompts exploration of your local craftspeople and producers. Asking people to buy plastic-free, organic or fair trade means more money goes towards ethical business, and you’ll get healthier food or skincare you actually want to use.
Make your own gifts. Give pot plants (start potting them up now!), a basket of fresh garden produce, home baking, preserves, bodycare products, activity kits, artwork, hand sewn garments or your own woodwork. What can you make?
Design vouchers for time or activities instead of spending money. Offer massage, babysitting, cleaning, meal cooking, music or language lessons, car maintenance, hairdressing or gardening. What do you know how to do?
If you are jaded with the whole commercial aspect of Christmas and birthdays, try eliminating presents altogether and giving donations of money or items to charity instead. There are many to choose from; find one that you trust. You can either ask people to give you presents that will be passed on to charities, or buy cards from charities that you give as presents. Oxfam run a successful scheme where you can choose from a variety of cards for different projects, from goats to literacy lessons, and you get a funny card to give to your recipient while Oxfam gets the money to put towards the goats or school.
If your family still buys you gifts anyway that you don’t need or want, or you just end up with multiples of things, donate it to charity after Christmas so it gets used and doesn’t clutter up your house.
Every Christmas, I take my child with me to donate a wrapped gift to charity. Sometimes I make the gift, sometimes I buy something that I would like to receive. Usually it’s an assortment of little things. Sometimes we donate several gifts, for different ages and genders. It helps to make Christmas more about giving, rather than just receiving.
Actually, I would love a pile of poo for Christmas. Can never have too much compost!