Tag Archives: christmas

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.

Here’s something I wrote earlier…

It’s nearing that time of year. I’d like to share with you a column I wrote last year for my college newspaper about Christmas. It’s fairly cynical, but it paves the way for my more positive response this year. Enjoy!

At the time of writing it’s twenty-three days until Christmas. Without a doubt the holiday that comes upon the Western world with the most fan-fare. The most excitement, preparation, expectation.  I mean they start advertising before Halloween has even cooled it’s breath. There’s snow outside – it’ll actually be white this year – and my town has trees up; gaudy coloured lights hanging from thier coniferous stems… Getting ready to be pulled off by drunken chavs at some point during the festive season. That’s why they don’t invest in classy fairy-lights like our more moneyed neighbour, Wells. Apparently. Perhaps they just have no taste and are trying to cover themselves by blaming the innocent youth, who knows.

Yet despite everything, even the unusually traditional weather, I feel completely unenthused.  I was more interested in yesterday’s dentist appointment than Christ’s 2010 birthday party. It really shouldn’t be this way, but I can’t help it. I really can’t bring myself to care.

It’s probably just me being cynical, but what if it’s not? What if Christmas is actually getting old?  I mean, it’s pretty much the same every year. You buy stuff, you eat a lot, you see your family, you sing songs, you get given loads of crap you don’t need, and then you tidy up and start planning what to do for New Year’s. Every year, the same thing, and it’s so commercial these days. It seems like it’s more a boon to the Useless Commodity industry than the heartfelt festival of light it’s meant to be. When I think of it, all I think of is how much money I need to spend buying my loved ones gifts. I’m feeling guilty that I’m stressing out about something that’s meant to be the physical reprisentation of my love for my friends, family, significant other. The stress seems to cancel out the love. Or at lest I’m worried it does.

Maybe I should just chill out and bake them all some cakes or something?

December 2010, Ledger

My next post is about hand-making gifts that are creative, cheap, eco-friendly and personal.