Preparing for a calm festive season:
For anyone who feels the pressure to buy some last-minute gifts: don’t.
Gift giving is not an obligation, regardless of what you see around you in the days leading to Christmas. Thinking of receiving and giving gifts can sometimes make me anxious, which is the last thing I want for the holidays. I want to eat well, rest, see my loved ones and avoid any rushing around, accumulating stuff I don’t want, overeating and creating trash. Regardless of how it usually is, Christmas season can still be calm (with or without gifts), if you have the right mindset. This is what I am trying to keep in mind for calmer festivities ahead:
On giving gifts: I have a rule to only give gifts when I really want to and not because I believe I should. Gifts should be chosen thoughtfully and given because it is fun. No one wants you to stress over their gift, right?
On receiving gifts: To people who I think would be stressed about gifts just like I am, and to those who’d give me something just for the sake of it, I like to tell in advance that I would like to spend some quality time together instead of receiving a physical gift. Whereas to those who I know will give me something nonetheless (like parents), I like to tell them what I need or ask for cash, for example.
On staying calm: No matter how hard you try to avoid the excess of food, plastic wrapping and unnecessary purchases, some things (read: distant relatives) are just out of your control. Therefore I decided to not stress about what happens from now on. I did my best and hope I will not wind up with tons of packaging and things I don’t need, but no slips will ruin the holidays ahead. I suggest you do the same and consider everything that happens a learning experience for the next year.
Favourite zero waste gift ideas:
- Give experiences like weekend getaway tickets, tickets to cinema, concert, theatre, wellness, treat them to dinner, … The key is that you will spend quality time together. A simple version of this is to prepare food for the loved ones, especially if you don’t do it so often. I live abroad so I am throwing a dinner for my family this year.
- Give perishables, like bulk tea, homemade cookies, coffee, a bottle of whisky, or even flowers, soap bars, natural cosmetics,… Something you can use up! Choose good quality and little packaging. This is probably the easiest gift to give to anyone.
- Intellectual gifts like books, e-books, notebooks, films, music, subscriptions, e-courses, … My boyfriend has a tradition with his friend to always gift each other books. If you have a family of book lovers, I read today about a cool Icelandic tradition of gifting each other books and spending the evening together reading.
- There is nothing more personal like DIY gifts. The bonus is that the gift is priceless and you get to have so much fun making it!
- Ask what they need and buy them what they would otherwise buy themselves. If you buy something, extra bonus if it is sustainably made or purchased second-hand. For zero waste enthusiasts, you can always invest in alternatives to disposable products. If you don’t know what someone might want you can always give cash or gift cards.
- Donation in their name. Each time around I am more convinced that this is the best gift to give and besides financial support to the right causes you are also spreading awareness. The recipient usually loves it because you show them that you recognise their values.
- Nothing else but your time and attention. You can make a tradition to not give any gifts and just spend time together over the holidays, like finding a bad Christmas movie to watch each year to come.
Pack your gifts in reusable bags or paper that you have lying around, and have lovely holidays!