Christmas is just around the corner and I am sure I am one of the very last few who still has the majority of gifts to buy (bought maybe 2 gift so far). For some reason, I am just not getting into the Christmas spirit properly this year. I've been extremely busy with the business, my family and work-life balance. And also, the older I get, and I don't mean to sound like the Grinch here, I feel even less of an urge to spend a whole chunk of money on unnecessary, meaningless junk. Don't get me wrong, I think Christmas is the most magical time to look forward to during the eternal darkness we have up here in the North at this time of the year, but to me, Christmas is more and more about spending time together and really taking the time to appreciate our loved ones - not just with the token of a gift, but by just hanging out for a few days. And if you want to give gifts - make sure they are of good quality and meaningful for the rest of the coming year.
Anyway, I thought I'd put together a quick baby step guide that will hopefully keep you a bit more attentive and mindful during the holidays this time around - and if you come up with any tips of your own, make sure to leave me a comment :).
Remember - It's not always what you buy - it's also how you present it.
Here is how to be mindful this Christmas
These steps are also good to keep in mind when buying gifts all year round, so try to memorize them and test yourself next time you want to give a gift.
As we are all too familiar with, there is always the 2-3 garbage bags full of waste when Christmas is over that has to be burned. This is totally unnecessary. And let's face it, some of the things you get each year you will put away and forget about, never wear, never even take out of the box. This year, I challenge you to be extra mindful. See how many of these things you can pull off:
- Use old wrapping: Use paper from the year before, and avoid buying new rolls of paper just because "I used that print last year, they'll know it's from me"and try so salvage some of the paper you receive with you own gifts given to you. Given that you don't tear them up like a wild animal from all the excitement when you get them, you can actually cut around any old tapes or tears, to make it look brand new before wrapping around your own gift to give away. Just make sure there isnt' any name previously written on the paper of course.
- Be mindful when buying paper: Buy wrapping paper that isn't tied to any specific season, so that it also can be used for birthdays and other gift giving throughout the year!
- Use alternative wrapping: Go to Youtube and watch tutorial on how to wrap a present using cloth instead of paper. My best friend once did this and I love it! Alternatively, use paper that you already have available around the house like old school newspapers. You can also get creative and make your own wrapping paper with materials from the craft store, or even just using good old printing paper. Look for inspiration on Pinterest. You can also make your own custom stamps to decorate the paper, using cold, raw potatoes cut into shapes, just like you most likely did as a kid once or twice. Involve the kids and make truly unique and personalized prints. Make your focus that it should be 100% burnable after use.
- Skip the plastic: learn how to wrap a gift without tape. This is something I have been trying to practise myself and whenever I simply cannot get the paper to stay put, I use glue. It's a small, easy tweak to make to save on that unecessary plastic.
- Use eco friendly string: instead of traditional string or ribbon, use one made from 100% natural material such as hemp or jute. Not getting the look you are going for: then invest in fancier string/ribbon that the receiver actually can use or keep after the gift has been opened.
- Start with an eco-friendly gift; really put your mind into what the person in question really needs - not necessarily wants, and the consequences of you buying that for them. I for instance would invest in a traditional Sodastreamer eventhough it's all made from plastic, because in the long run you save up to 2,190 single use plastic bottles from going to landfill. And - SodaStream actually listened to the people and is now available in a completely plastic free edition (Titan). My amazing instafriend @Consciouskaren recently made an amazing gift guide for sustainable and good-for-humanity presents, have a read here
- Opt for products that are wrapped in recyclable packaging. Avoid buying things that are simply containing too much waste that is hard or not possible to recycle. Alternatively, ask to leave the packaging behind at the store when you buy the product, especially if you know you cannot recycle it near your home.
- Ask for “byttemærke” if possible. In Denmark you can buy anything and everything with a "byttemærke" which around the holidays, and it is essentially a sticker that makes the product eligible for return if the recipient does not wish to keep it – better they return it than throw it out. Always ask the store what their return policy is before you buy, so you know if the person can return it or not.
- Instead of buying something you’re not entirely sure they'll like - get a gift card! Instead of wasting money on something that will never be used or just tossed in a corner, give the person the option to choose for themselves. Sure, many will argue that gift cards or cold hard cash doesn't exactly say "loving gift" or " I saw this and thought of you", but then again - isn't the epitome of thoughtfulness that someone wants you to be absolutely 100% happy with your gift, so they are letting you choose for yourself?
- Buy experiences – not things. Give them memories. I personally value memories far more than items, and love getting and buying "memories" like that for others too. I believe experiences make us richer, not things. If this also fits your personal mantra - go for it! Give them something to talk about for years to come. Concert tickets, a murder-mystery dinner, escape room experience, spa weekend, a weekend trip abroad, clay pidgeon shooting, horseback riding etc - it can literally be anything!
- A gift can also be electronic: Netflix subscription for a year, or iTunes money, Audible credit. Go digital: buy E-books and "cloud" friendly gifts
- Recycle all the x-mas waste. Did you know what squeezing all the foil wrappers from Christmas candy together into a ball the size of a golf ball is big enough to recycle as metal? Keep this in mind and start squeezing :).
- Make your own donation to planet earth. Find a charity that resonates for what you believe in and make a donation in the honour of the person you would normally buy a gift for. Let them know they are contributing through you.
- Bring your own bags when gift shopping and save on the all the plastic that will just end up in the trash anyway.
- Opt for gifts that donate when you buy them. There are many companies out there that give something in return for your purchase, like plant a tree in your name, or buy supplies for someone in need, shelters the homeless for Christmas Eve etc.These are just a google search away! So many companies donate around the holidays, and this is great for those of you who want to give back but never find the time to do so.
- Instead of buying a greeting card, make them one from things you have at home or simply write on the ribbon or wrapping paper. Put your back into it this year and show them you not only care about them, but about the planet too.
- Don't buy from overseas: a common perception is that India and China are the worst polluters in the world, having zero safety for their workers and destroying the landscape and water supply of their people because of their recklessness. Stop and think for a minute about who they are mainly producing for? You and me. So it might as well be us releasing all that pollution into the environment personally. Fact: China produces about 80% of the world's air-conditioners, 70% of its mobile phones and 60% of its shoes. The white heat of China's ascent has forged supply chains that reach deep into South-East Asia. This “Factory Asia” now makes almost half of the world's goods.
- If you want to travel abroad during Christmas, try opting for a place that isn't half-way around the globe and save on CO2 emissions. It's quite the controversy that many politicians who are cracking down on farmers about their cows leaking too much CO2 into the air, and then book a trip for the entire family to Thailand over Christmas. To put it into perspective: the average person flying to Thailand from Europe produces 2,5 tonnes of CO2 gas - per person. According to UN's Climate Panel IPCC, it's true that farming produces methane gas, but that amount to a mere 5% of the total release into the environment. Fossile fuel however, is responsible for 75%. So maybe scarp that trip to Thailand and see where you can go below the equator (if it's warm weather you are after) around that time of year.
I hope I have given you some bit-sized information to keep in mind this holiday season. Leave some comments below if you end up using any of them - or if you have any more suggestions that you use yourself :).
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xx Marie xx