Ahhh, Christmas! That very special time of the year! The season which we spend more than we earn on plastic junk, which is forgotten about less than 24 hours after being opened. The world’s landfills are busy clearing room for this season’s payload of Chinese-made Christmas rubbish.
I’m yet to meet a person who actually loves the overconsumption, frenzied malls, consumer debt, environmental waste, and over-accumulation of needless stuff related to Christmas (except the owners of the malls and chain stores perhaps) so why not reign in your spending this year, and be a little more responsible.
I don’t suggest you should stop buying gifts for your loved ones, however I am suggesting you buy less of them. Here are some good alternatives to spending money things that will (and let’s be honest) almost certainly end up in the local landfill before Spring has even arrived.
- Do other things with your family, such as baking, watching It’s a Wonderful Life, or simply dedicating Christmas morning to playing whatever games they want to play.
- Volunteer your family to a homeless shelter, or decide to clean up a beach (with tasty rewards for the kids).
- Ask people to donate to your favorite charity in lieu of gifts.
- Buy goods from Trade Aid, or another globally conscious, ethical supplier.
- Make meaningful gifts – by yourself. Nothing means more than a hand-made gift.
- Do a gift swap where you put a valued possession (that you already own) into the swap.
- Bake gifts – this one’s my favourite.
- Have an experience instead of giving material goods: do something fun together, go fishing for example.
- Find hope. Christmas has so much potential to be about so much more than buying — it can be a season of hope, renewal, loved ones, inspiration, contemplation. Talk to your family about this — how can we find ways to be hopeful, thankful, cooperative? How can we be more present instead of worried about getting presents?
- Get stuff at Goodwill. It’s recycled, and the money helps a good cause.
- Start a family project: Convert your gasoline powered car to run on electricity. It’s easy, fun, and you won’t have to pay for gas again. Kids can learn a lot, as can parents. You need no special skills either with this downloadable tutorial.
If you’re not ready to go cold turkey on lavish spending, then perhaps the best advice I can give you is to simply set yourself a budget for each person. The kids? Your spouse or partner? Why not limit each family member to a maximum of $30 each.
Remember, Christmas isn’t about shopping, despite what the advertising might suggest!