The exchange of useless crap is pointless and has nothing to do with the true meaning of Christmas; whatever that is for you. Downsizing your Christmas spending not only saves you money and stress, it is also great for the environment.
Lover of kitsch that I am, I need to confess that I’m not feeling Christmassy. It is not called Wastefest, and no matter what your beliefs are, you will hardly get around Christmas. Living in Australia, it is a lot easier to ignore it all, as many of the decorations somehow blend into the heat and, unlike in Germany, you don’t get tortured with Wham’s Last Christmas 24/7. I do appreciate the over the top decorations on houses, cars and people but my heart weeps a bit looking at all this plastic crap every single time.
For many the time leading up to Christmas can be a hamster wheel filled with work, school and community functions. You probably won’t win the raffle and by the time you think you have presents for family, friends, colleagues, neighbors, teachers and pets, you forgot the darn stocking fillers. December left nothing but change in the pockets, so you head to the local dollar store and purchase almost out of date chocolates, cheesy crap for house & garden, nail polish in last season’s color and toys that won’t live to see the New Year. You’ll finish your shopping spree with wrapping paper and ribbons and a whole bunch of other junk because it is so damn cheap and while you’re there… and $40 later (if you’ve been good) you walk out of that treasure chest with, let’s face it, a whole bunch of landfill.
Sadly enough, you do this every year because you rely on stocking fillers to make that toy, cheap bottle of wine/[…] look bigger, better and most of all more. I say, skip the stocking fillers this year. If you’re brave, don’t do cards and wrapping paper. If you dare, make it no presents at all.
Do the math with me. Say you are going to a family Christmas and are buying for six relatives for a minimum of $20 ($120) + wrapping paper ($10) + stocking fillers ($40) + cards ($30) you are looking at about $200 that you spend at Boutique Targét for things probably nobody needs. If you skip the presents altogether everyone saves money, dinner tastes exactly the same and nobody goes home with an ugly xmas sweater. For the Christmas-spirited amongst you, there is a great solution, too. Let a different family member choose every year what to enjoy together as a family. After you’ve been ice-skating or seen the Nutcracker, you go out for dinner. After free dinner (if Dad is a nice person), $100 for charity and $45 for your ticket, you saved $45. Rejoice and happy Christmas!
Here are a few Ideas for a cheaper, greener and merrier Christmas
If you insist on stuffing stockings, try natural cosmetics or healthy snacks like (dried) fruit and nuts. During the holiday some people might be delighted to see an apple.
Make something yourself
For kids and creative people, this is a great one. Sew re-usable gift bags or Christmassy table runners or make your own candles or decorations. Even if you’re not crafty, a nicely framed photo may come a long way. Write a poem. Bake cookies. Offer to help.
This method requires a few gift-givers to work together in order to come up with one decent present. Granny and Gramps might be excited about a subscription to that gardening magazine or a new lens for the camera for their upcoming cruise.
Make it a Mason Jar
Take mason jars or milk bottles and fill with cookie ingredients or ironic miniature moss landscapes. Wrap with burlap. Hipster done well.
The Glory of the Voucher
Vouchers are misunderstood. They are not impersonal gifts but rather the chance for the receiver to get something they’ll actually like. Think shoe store, iTunes or favourite restaurant.
Books. Ebooks. Notebooks. Library memberships. Vouchers for local book stores.
Support your local artists
This year, get your presents from local shops and markets or order from Etsy. Kmart does not need your money and for once your rellies get something cute.
Go quality, not quantity
Skip cards, stocking fillers and wrapping paper and buy good quality chocolates, toys, wine […] with the money you saved instead.
Donate money to a charitable cause and inform your present-deprived family via email, you’ve just went green, with sunset selfies from Bali.
Ask people what they need
This may take out the element of the surprise but maybe Dad would like a new pair of socks indeed. On your side, it prevents getting yet another candle holder. Please, not another candle holder! …
I vow not to buy garbage this year. How about you?
Further reading: Did I make it?