As a society, we’ve developed a throwaway culture – with so many discount stores and fast fashion brands, a lot of gifts these days are not made to last. With the world facing a Climate Crisis it’s time to reconsider the way we spend. This is why I am going to pledge not to buy physical gifts this Christmas.
However, I LOVE getting people presents – this is a huge part of the Christmas season to me, seeing someone’s face light up when they open a present you’ve carefully handpicked for them.
So this got me thinking about what to get my friends and family. This got me thinking, as a self employed artist living in London, one can only imagine that my hours are erratic and it does make it difficult to spend time with friends or family. So, it occurred to me that the solution was simple, why not give the gift of experience this year.
It’s simple, instead of spending of trying to work out what dress size auntie Sally is, I will be treating her a jewellery making workshop. I’m going to take all my friends from university to a quirky afternoon tea to mix up our normal outings to the pub.
My partner’s parents really don’t need me to get them another hamper filled with food and wine, so I will take them to a little local theatre to see an independent play.
I live with my partner, and to be frank when one of us gets each other a present ‘for the flat’ it definitely a present for ourselves. So we’ve decided to put an end to this by both chipping in for a weekend away together.
Obviously, if we go back to my point about climate change some events will have an impact on the environment. But this is still much better that buying gifts that will be used for a few months then thrown away. Also be mindful about the events you chose, try and take public transport there, avoid things are are ‘all you can eat meat’ (yes, this is a thing!) and check the company’s effort to be more sustainable before booking.
This may sound like an expensive way to give presents if ordinarily you get someone just a token gift. But why not take these people out for a drink or for tea and cake after going to see some Christmas lights? There so many free things to do around the festive season.
The Experience Economy is becoming one of the biggest expenditures for Millennials and I’m not surprised. The more we have, the less we appreciate when it comes to physical things. You buy a car, then 6 months later you start looking at a better upgrade.
However, think back to your holidays or that time you learnt something new? These are the moments that stay with you forever and quite frankly, are priceless.
A friend I run a business with got the two of us a pottery workshop for my birthday. When she gave it to me she said it was because our friendship has become just about our business and we never hang out socially anymore.
That sentiment meant more to me than any psychical gift. This meant I got to spend time with a friend, learn a new skill (albeit I was terrible!) and she supported an independent business by booking our class. So many benefits from one gift.
The seasonal consumerism has certainly got to a level which has taken away the magic of Christmas. With Children comparing how many toys they got given from ‘Santa’ to the stress of enduring the busy shopping centres.
If you do decide to buy presents this year, make sure you shop from independent businesses where the products are ethically made and have less impact on the environment.
Surely, a large part of the Christmas celebration is to spend time with the people you care about? Why don’t we take a few steps back this year and spend it with the people we care about having a good time instead of in a busy shop queue.