Friday, 23 September 2011

The Christmas Countdown - Planning Ahead

92 Days to go and counting.

I love, love, love Christmas! 

I love the food (the eating and the making) the family time, the time off work, the smells of cinnamon and cloves, Christmas carols and the drinking Christmas cheer. 
I also really enjoy the challenge of finding gifts for people that they will appreciate and teaming these up with handmade gifts or food gifts.

However as Christmas draws closer and the letterbox fills with junk mail I am dismayed at the excessive consumption that is encouraged.  And not just the usual suspect the gift giving department.
Every year we are sold on the "must have" colour scheme/theme for this Christmas and the nick knacks, table decorations and general fanfare that you just "must have to complete the look".  It seems to be all about spend, spend, spend with no concern for waste or excessive consumption.

It is reported that last year 6 million Australians received a gift that they did not use and later gave away.  In addition to this, one survey by the Australia Institute found that on quarter of Australians expect to give presents to people they would prefer not to, and about a quarter of these reluctant givers were unable to pay their credit card in full each month.

According to Clean up Australia Australians produce over 40 million tons of waste per year, much of which ends up as discarded rubbish and in landfill. Over this Christmas we will also purchase additional items such as Christmas trees, food, packaging and unwanted gifts.

Some ideas for reducing waste and cost are to give a gift that is hand made or home made, give an experience rather than a packaged gift like tickets to a concert, a massage voucher (or do the massage yourself), a lesson with a golf pro or an art class.  The options are endless.

If you are on a very tight budget you might consider offering your services on a home made gift voucher rather than purchasing a gift.  Offer to babysit for a few hours or a weekend so the parents can have some time out, cleaning, mowing lawns, or anything that you thing you can do that the other person would appreciate.

And for the person who has everything or if you would rather not accumulate more clutter this year,Oxfam Unwrapped offers a range of over 40 totally unexpected gift ideas that will also help transform the life of a person living in poverty.
When you buy an Unwrapped gift card, your donation helps support Oxfam Australia’s life-changing work around the world. Best of all, your family member, workmate or friend receives an extremely memorable gift card explaining how their special gift is helping others. It’s a way that those of us with a lot can help those with a little.  How about a goat? Or a chicken? Or a pig? Or a pile of seeds?

But if you really have to/want to buy a gift consider buying from a charity as many charities these days have a range of products they endorse in turn receiving part of the profit or choose fair trade.

In our house we have made the decision that all Christmas gifts this year must fall into the following categories:

Homemade or Handmade
Local (within 50km)
Sold by a charity

Yes this might limit our choices but let's just wait and see.  I won't post what I have purchased in case the recipient is reading but I will let you know of any good websites I find.

What plans do you have in place for a low waste Christmas this year?


  1. My family gave up gift giving about 13 years ago now. We only buy for the kiddies.(The kiddies now also buy something small for the Grandies so that they are not just receiving) My partner and I don't even buy for one another. My parents buy what they want as they need it. It has taken the pressure off and we all approach the day with a much more relaxed state of mind. There is not that mad rush around the shops on Christmas Eve trying to find that last minute gift. Handmade gifts made with thought (and love) are so much nicer. We get the most amazing homemade Christmas cake from the in-laws and that is all I need.

  2. We put the names into a hat so that we only buy one gift, and we do set a dollar limit. grands are exempt. It seems to work ok, but I look forward to hearing what other ideas you come up with.

  3. Its too early for Christmas! But thanks for your thoughts and some good ideas. Our family has also stopped giving all Christmas and birthday gifts. We just give things at any time when we see something nice that the other person might like, rather than having that mad rush you mentioned. Now I can happily avoid the shops at Christmas :)

    Another source of waste is Christmas cards....I get them from charities and only send them to my relatives that don't have the internet, everyone else gets an email.

  4. Your ideas are fantastic and have got me thinking... ;-)


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