A sustainable Christmas

I love Christmas: the decorations, the food, the presents, the films (ok well not all of the films, some of them are just too cheesy) and the opportunity to celebrate with friends and family. It’s so easy to get caught up with the season and find yourself buying things for it left, right and centre. New decorations, loads of food until the cupboards are overflowing and a growing number of presents at ever increasing prices. It’s all too much and I think all the buying of stuff detracts from the best parts of the season. 

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So this year I want to do things differently. I want a simple, sustainable Christmas focusing on spending time celebrating, without the excesses and rather than on accumulating stuff. 

What does this actually look like though? 

1. Presents. My husband and I have been cutting back on what we buy each other for a little while anyway but this year we’re going to exchange just one gift. Buying presents for our son would be oh so easy but he’s only one and he really doesn’t need lots (to be honest we could probably just give him a cardboard box and he’d happily play with that for weeks). We’re just going to give him a few small stocking presents and then one bigger present under the tree. We’re going to ask family members to only buy him one present each too which will connect up with his main one. It should keep things affordable but still enjoyable. 

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2. Decorations. Oh I love a Christmas dec and I can spend hours playing around with them. We are going to need to buy a new Christmas tree as our one finally gave up last Christmas. I’m going to research up the most environmentally friendly approach to getting a new one. Other than this, we’re not buying anything new. If we want to add a new decoration then it needs to be foraged (holly from the back garden maybe) or made using things we already own (I have a huge stash of craft stuff that never gets used so it’s a good time to delve into that). It’s not that I’ll never buy another Christmas decoration (believe me, I will!) but this year I want to restrict myself in this way and see what creativity it results in.

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3. Food. I can’t abide food wastage and every time we mismanage our fridge and cupboard and have to throw things away I feel awful. My husband and I have been really working at only buying what we need each week, making use of the freezer, cooking from scratch and making meal plans so why not apply the same principles to Christmas? Will there be mince pies and chocolates? Of course! But only a reasonable amount. Just because there might be a 3 for 2 off on giant tubs of chocolates does not mean we need to buy 3 boxes just for ourselves. 

4. Celebrating. this year I want to fill the season with celebrations (not every moment of the season mind you - I’ve got no desire to race through it with never a moments rest). I’d like to do a craft activity with my son (probably a bit ambitious given his age), a celebration with friends and then some time with family. My brother and I always spend part of Christmas Eve together and it’s become a tradition to watch The Muppets Christmas Carol whilst eating cookies (I seriously love this film, if you haven’t seen it then watch it - for me it perfectly captures the essence of Christmas (from a non-religious viewpoint, obviously)). As part of my husband’s family originated from Germany we also want to build a few traditional German celebrations into the month like celebrating St Nicks day on 6 December and opening a present on Christmas Eve (I’m going to have to think about this one in light of the presents approach above!). 

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5. Christmas cards. Ok call me Scrooge if you want to but I don’t like Christmas cards. They cost a fortune, take up space in the house (unless you have some card holding solution in which case you usually only see a few of them), take hours to write and the message usually becomes more generic as you go, they cost a load in postage and at the end of the season end up in the recycling bin (hopefully and not the normal waste bin). “But you’re telling people you’re thinking about them at this time of year” I hear you say! Come on, are you? Or are you telling them that their address is in your address book and they sent you one last year so you feel obliged to send them one this year. Id rather just try to make time to spend with those people I really am thinking about. I’ve refused to send Christmas cards in the past. This year I’m going for a compromise: I’m only sending them to key family members and I’m going to make them with my son (yes, this is the ambitious craft activity which will probably end up with me making them but it will be fun anyway). I’m also very tempted to make them as postcards so as to halve the amount of cardboard used but I haven’t quite made up my mind on that one. 

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So that’s the plan for Christmas this year: still plenty of fun and celebrations but one that leaves us feeling in good spirits. I think the muppets say it better: “it is the season of the heart, a special time of caring, the ways of love made clear, it is the season of the spirit, the message if you hear it is make it last all year!”

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