I love a Christmas rant. It’s already December and Christmas is just around the corner, a time to get the family together and have some fun. I love this time of year, a relaxed, special time with my loved ones, though it wasn’t always like that.
In the past, there was always so much pressure at Christmas. I wanted to create the perfect Western celebration, from glittering trees and gifts, to homemade food and decorations. It was one long marathon, which usually started in October. None of it had anything to do with the religious significance, and all to do with commercialism and culture. It was a very expensive time both physically and emotionally.
I was not alone – in the UK it’s said that only 10% will have no debt on their credit card in the New Year.
Stress Bust the Festive Season
With all that in mind, what can you do to Stress Bust the festive season? We know that in reality we actually need very little in order to enjoy the holiday: our family/friends, and love. I don’t put up a tree, send Xmas cards, buy gifts or fill a lavish table full of home cooked goodies, yet I will still have an awesome time.
Here are my top 10 commercial areas to avoid this Christmas (and their alternatives). It’s not about spoiling the day by being a Scrooge, it’s all about thinking logically. LESS IS MORE, and it saves our planet.
Not only is it good for us, it heals the whole person, inside and out. It’s also the perfect start to a new lifestyle choice for 2018.
1. The Plastic Christmas Rant
Plastic anything. Period. The worst culprits at Christmas are plates, cups, forks, knives, straws, cheap plastic toys, and any rubbish that will break after 5 minutes and end up in land-fill, as well as pre-prepared food. The list goes on and on.
Alternatives – use good, old-fashioned ceramic plates, stainless steel knives and forks and real glasses, and have a washing up party the next day. Or get in a local outside catering supplier who will take them away dirty for you.
Avoid cheap toys. Just avoid them, no excuses. Look for alternatives, preferably homemade locally, using wood or other organic material.
I’m not sure what it is with the UK, yet whenever I visit and the TV is on I see an advert for a new sofa. This is a huge Christmas rant. It seems the UK has a pastime of changing sofas every week judging by the companies’ advertising budgets.
Before you buy anything for the home that has the potential to end up in landfill, think twice.
Is it possible to revamp?
Can I send it to charity?
Do I really need this?
Not only does it save the planet, it will save your bank balance. Never buy on impulse.
3. More Landfill
Anything that will end in landfill or poison the planet, either on land or in the ocean. needs to be thought about carefully . . .
Christmas Crackers – do you really need to wear that silly paper hat each year?
Wrapping paper – have you ever thought of using part of the gift as the wrap, for example a scarf or T-shirt?
Christmas Cards – you may have bought charity cards, yet wouldn’t it be more beneficial to donate directly to the charity? They would then get a bigger portion of your hard-earned cash. Not sending cards means you may also be more inclined to ring and speak directly to a person, the old-fashioned way, and create some fond memories for everyone.
Amazon packaging – send it back! Mark it ‘return to sender’ and put it back in the post, or if you are collecting at a pickup point, just leave it there.
4. Luxury Items
For me, this is a difficult one. I prefer to buy good quality goods that I know will serve and last longer, rather than penny pinch and end up having to buy again twelve months later. Buy Me Once is my motto. What it does mean is that I can save up for items that suit my minimalist lifestyle.
For example, I love Apple products, yet I recently upgraded from my iPhone 4 (5-years old) to an iPhone SE which was 50% cheaper than buying a new version, and does the same job.
If you are prone to falling into the December ‘buy’ mode just because . . . then it’s time to turn off the TV. That way you avoid the commercial hard-sell of items that ‘you need’ to buy. Remember, when you do go out, leave your credit card behind! End of this specific Christmas rant!
5. Toxic Food
Pre-made food always comes at a cost, whether it’s to you, or the environment. Take time to look at the ingredients in your favourite Christmas food. Do you know what all the E numbers stand for? How much sugar content does an item have? (Remember that sugar is often labelled in forms you won’t recognise, and will most certainly be in your supermarket bacon, and even salt). Also think twice before you buy Superfoods
Go back to basics, and spend a little extra on buying nourishing fresh foods instead: organic turkey, grass-fed beef, line-caught fish, game, seasonal fruits and veg and locally produced wine or beer. Don’t forget to include nutritional nuts as well. See number 8 for more details.
6. Toxic Toiletries and Cosmetics
Just as with food, you will find a lot of toxic chemicals in your toiletries. Take a look at the back of the bottle, and have a go at pronouncing the ingredients. If you can’t say it, are you really prepared to eat it or put it on your skin? Your skin is the biggest organ of your body, it absorbs the chemicals you apply to the skin surface. In other words – is as if you eat the product.
If you are not prepared to eat it, don’t buy it and put it on your skin. Take time this Christmas to source locally-made products using only natural ingredients, and treat yourself. Or if you prefer, have a go at making your own products – it’s not as hard as it seems, and they make awesome gifts too. See here for more information.
7. Toxic Household Cleaners
Again, as with food and toiletries, take great care when buying household products. Can you pronounce the ingredients on the label? Do you know what these long words actually mean? Do you really want to be breathing in the contents, or have them on your skin?
One of my biggest areas of concern is today’s fad of artificial perfume. It seems to be everywhere, in your car, home, and supermarkets. For some, including me, it is highly toxic (I can smell a Lush cosmetics shop over three blocks away, and begin sneezing immediately). None of these aromas is natural, in fact, they may be as harmful as smoking. For more ideas take a look here.
8. Buy Local
It may be easier to go into your supermarket and buy everything at once, yet the environmental impact is huge. Most of the contents of your local supermarket will have travelled long distances to get there. In effect, you are handing over your hard-earned pay to keep this vast network going. Why not take your consumer needs local this Christmas?
By buying items such as locally-made wine, locally-reared turkey or Christmas tree, you will not only benefit the environment, you will make your local economy stronger and help your community to thrive. If the difference in price concerns you, buy smaller amounts, we always buy too much at Christmas anyway.
9. Clothes From Sweatshops
Do you really know the history of the item of clothing you are about to buy? Whether it’s for yourself or as a gift, does a cheap price mean that someone has suffered in order to make it? Does the label state that the product has been made with sweated labour, or from fabrics that will harm the environment?
As with food, household chemicals, toiletries and cosmetics, take time out to learn about the garment you are interested in. If you can’t find any information in the shop or online – avoid them like the plague!
Take a look at these clothing shops that are making inroads into being sustainable and transparent.
10. Buying/Receiving Gifts
We all think and feel differently about the gifts we receive at Christmas. I hate it when people have not taken the time to really think about the gift they present, a box of chocs or a gift voucher speaks volumes. To me it means ‘we forgot about you’ or ‘we have no care for you’. I would rather not receive anything at all.
You can always gauge whether you have gifted correctly when you see your loved one’s face when they receive their gift. Are they embarrassed, or happy? It doesn’t have to be guesswork.
Did you know that some people would prefer to have an experience rather than receive a physical gift? Did you know that others prefer a deed done or an IOU for help in the future?
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There is a simple way to work this out, it doesn’t have to take much effort. When you know how the person ticks, you will find selecting the perfect gift simple and stress-free.
To help you present perfect gifts I’ve co-authored a book with Pat Duckworth. Quick Fix For Giving Glorious Gifts.
Now… breathe. Rant over.
What’s your pet rant during this festive season? Please share in the comments below.