Reclaiming Christmas and Gift-Giving

As expressed in my last post, I dislike the gaudy, loud, expensive, stressful, commercial side of the festive season. As an 18 year old without a huge amount of money, I actually find the prospect of buying adequate presents for all my friends and family quite difficult. My wallet is showing signs of nervous stress disorder by October.

A few days before Christmas day, you’ll see me frantically running around every shop I can find, running home to look for coins in the sofa, counting out pennies, and considering the logistics of printing money. I love giving gifts, and I get frustrated that I can’t afford to buy people what I want to. But I really don’t have the money for this, and the amount of stress and annoyance it causes me gets in the way of the loving nature of the whole situation.

And plus, the rest of the year I’m trying not to buy things. When I made my 10:10 pledge I realised my main eco weakness was being a borderline shopaholic, so I set about changing this. I rarely buy clothes now unless they’re from a second-hand shop. I frown at adverts and sew up my tights. I daydream about wonderful imaginary futures where minerals and trees are left in the ground and we recycle and reuse everything we have. Cradle to cradle design and none of this material gluttony. But somehow Christmas just gets me anyway. All of these ideals go out the window as I battle for the perfect gift box set.

Well, this year I am more skint, more bored and more determined.

To amuse myself as much as anything, here’s a list of ideas for creative, hand-made gifts.

Bottled Bath Salts – My mum recently gave me all these little glass bottles. She had the brilliant idea of making bath salts in them as presents. With some rose petals, lavender and cutely tied ribbons thrown into the mix, these would be gorgeous.

Spiced Brandy – Another idea for the lucky possessor of pretty bottles, I thought making some of this would be cool. Here’s a recipe I found. I haven’t tried it yet so I hold no responsibility for the outcome! I’d leave the whole spices (e.g. cinnamon sticks) inside the bottles and tie ribbons around their necks. I love ribbons.

Illustrated Stories – This may not be practical for everyone, but it is for me because I have a collection of little humorous stories I’ve written. Like really little, short enough to fit on a typed A4 page. I’m going to illustrate mine with cut-outs and collages, and then staple a sheet of clear plastic over the top for protection. I like this idea because of how personal it is. Although not a useful gift, it’d at least be a conversation starter.

Poems – If you really get on a roll, why not write a little poem about your special whoever? Type or write it out neatly on some pretty coloured paper and tie it up in a scroll with –yes – a ribbon. Most people would be really touched by this gesture.

Notebooks – This is really simple but a bit over-done. Still, could be nice for a little girl. Get an old notebook and cover the front and back cover with patterned paper, and embellish your heart out with buttons, beads, shape-cutters and etc.

Warning: Only undertake any of these projects if you actually have some spare time. Otherwise you’ll just stress yourself out even more.

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