Is it Christmas yet? I don’t know about you guys, but I always feel like the moment the pumpkins are put away, stores decide that all we want is six straight weeks of festive force feeding (and I’m kind of ok with it)
Some people are all about having a commercialism-free Christmas, but that person is definitely not me. I love Christmas! I love hunting down the perfect gift for people, I love wrapping presents, I love unwrapping presents. I love it all! So it can be hard to combine my unabashed Christmas urge to shower my friends and family with love, with a desire to do the right thing by the environment. Add to that the fact that most people these days really want for nothing, or aren’t really ‘present people’, and Christmas shopping can be tough.
If all this is ringing bells and you’re still stumbling around frantically trying to find the gift to tick every column, have I got a list for you!
1- Gift Vouchers
Like most people, I was icky about gift vouchers for the longest time. Don’t they just scream ‘I wasn’t organised enough to buy a real present!’, and it can be awkward to see a dollar amount attached to the gift. But if you put a little effort into choosing the right one, a Gift Voucher can be a fantastic present. Make sure to choose something you’re pretty sure that the recipient would love, but wouldn’t normally splurge on for themselves and if you’re still icky about putting a fixed price on your relationship, check to see if the company can swap out the price of the voucher with a description of what they’re in for – I received a High Tea for Two from my siblings for my birthday this year, and it was the best treat ever!
2- Time Together
Sometimes the best gifts can’t be wrapped! How about taking your Dad on a beer tasting, or treating your Mum to something she would never take the time to do herself? (see the High Tea above, l waited until she was in town to be my lucky plus-one). When I was a kid, my brother was gifted a class where he & Dad spent a few sessions crafting wooden lawn chairs. My parents still have the chairs today, and my big bro now makes his living creating amazing furniture! That gift was definitely a lot more valuable than whatever fad toy a lot of other kids got that year.
3- Gifts that give all year round
Does your recipient like theatre? How about a ticket or two? Or a few movie passes? If they love fresh flowers in the house, how about a subscription to something like Daily Blooms, or what about a few regular deliveries of their favourite treats like beer or freshly-roasted coffee? Most subscription services will let you specify how long you give for to ensure you can match your budget, and my favourite part is not letting them know that any future deliveries will be coming. Talk about the gift that keeps on giving!
4- Get crafty
This is a regular occurrence in my family. We have been lucky enough to take a few trips together, and since the long holiday over here falls at the same time as Christmas, the budget around this time can often be quite tight (yes, we have a Summer Christmas, and yes, it is the best!) For those years, we set a rule- hand crafted only. Doesn’t matter what it is! I’ve been lucky enough to receive home-brewed limoncello (yum), a rustic looking leather binder that I can use to reuse scrap-paper for writing on, a wooden bath rack, home-infused bath salts- the list goes on. And I can promise that I loved every one of them just as much as anything fancy that would have some from the store. I come from a very DIY family, but you don’t have to have a huge amount of mad skills to create a gift that anyone would love to receive. Take a few minutes to dive into Pinterest and you’ll be hard pressed to narrow your options down!
5- Don’t be afraid to ask
When it comes down to it, we live in a world where most of us have a very limited scope for self-denial. If we want something, most of us will just go out and get it (myself included). That can make present giving tough! Sometimes it can just be easier to ask for some suggestions for a gift that would be really appreciated- perhaps they have a secret love of Lush, but can never justify the price of a bath bomb (who can?), or there’s a makeup palette that they are secretly dying over. Maybe you know a photographer who would love help buying a new lens, or a someone that’s been dying to go on a retreat that there’s just no way they can afford. Rounding up a few family members to split the cost on a bigger budget item can save a lot of junk ending up in the bin at the end of the day, and instead your lucky recipient will have something they love to use again and again. If you still want to include the element of surprise, just ask for a few suggestions – most people will be more than happy to oblige!
DO NOT BUY A GOAT
Seriously. Unless you are absolutely, 100%, fair dinkum sure that it will be well received, do not buy everyone you know a goat, (or a chicken, or a well). It doesn’t matter how late you’ve left your gift-buying or how attractive those glossy adverts may seem, unless someone has specifically asked for a donation to be made in their name, just don’t do it. Not only can it seem really lazy (and if I’m honest, a little smug), how do you think your recipients will feel as you announce from behind the pile of lovingly selected presents you’ve just opened, that they’re not getting anything because you’ve made a donation instead? And yes, I know that you may be trying to ‘avoid the commercialism of Christmas’ or ‘make the world a better place’, but your recipients might not see it that way.
If there’s a cause that you strongly believe in, why don’t you request that everyone makes a donation for you? That way the only feathers being ruffled will be the ones of some gratefully received new chook in a developing country, and the warm fuzzies will be shared by everyone. That’s the Christmas spirit!