Uh. It's coming.

Image via The TV Legion

Something inevitable is looming upon us. Something that makes ordinarily rational people shop at 2am. Something that compels generally mindful people to buy more scented candles and body lotion than you can poke a stick at. Christmas. Love it or hate, it’s coming. It’s poking its little red and green and white stripey head around the corner. And many people I know have already started shopping for it. Some of us will lose our head over it (I’ve been guilty of this in the past, for sure). I realise, of course, most of you reading this blog aren’t the types to spend the sleeping hours in a shopping centre, but gift giving and receiving are festive activities most of us will be partaking in, by choice or not.

Don’t get me wrong, I love receiving and giving gifts as much as the next ten year old. But in my quest for a better life, a more sustainable life, I’ve had to draw a line. So this year, my family and I are trying something new, but old. A kris kringle of sorts, like the type you used to play in primary school. Which brings the gift count per person from SEVEN down to one. We’ve added a few ‘guidelines’: 1. it must be thoughtful and personal, 2. it should be hand-made or mindful in terms of its eco-footprint, 3. it shouldn’t pierce the price ceiling, which is very low (to make it harder, I guess).

Of course, gift-giving over Christmas is not a rule of life, and I’m two-ways about it. Being a tad allergic to commercial endeavours anyhow, I could easily walk away and just enjoy the company of friends and family and food as the best pressie of all (oh, gush). On the other hand, at least once in a year, it’s nice to show your appreciation for someone you love by taking the time to think, really think, about what would make them smile, or laugh, or their life a little bit easier. There's something special about nervously handing it to them and hoping you got it right. And since Christmas is usually a time where most of those people are in the same place at the same time, it may as well be then.

Aside from the gift fiasco, Christmas for a fair chunk of the population also spells excessive food, booze and travel. And waste. Lots of empty beer cans. A nightmare for the environment. Planet Ark has put together a Festive Recycling Green Guide, to help us along. Here are a few tips, some from me and some from the guide, for staying mindful over the jolly season:

  • Get creative with mishmash meal ideas so leftover foods don't go to waste
  • If you buy a live Christmas tree, don't throw it out when it's all over - have it mulched and use it in the garden instead
  • Cork bottle tops can be recycled. Visit Recycling Near You for how and where
  • Truly free range Christmas hams are hard to find, but worth the search if you're ham-inclined ('bred free range' is not quite the same thing. More on that another time)
  • Make gifts meaningful, so they don’t end up in the bin shortly after
  • Look for gifts with minimal packaging
  • Wrapping – I’ve been known to use a tea towel. Why not?
  • Buy locally-made gifts. We have SO many clever artisans in Australia
  • Ethical – if it's not locally made, does it support a co-op in a developing country?
  • How's its recyclability? (that’s a word, isn’t it?)

And some sweet eco-friendly gift ideas:
  • Vintage is cool. Again. Vintage books are a treasure for life.
  • Home-made food is always a winner. Unless it's a blue cake. I once received a blue cake (granted from a child. And it's the thought that counts. Yes.)
  • Home-made preserves and pickles. Gifts that give meal after meal.
  • Send a locally-grown organic food hamper. I likey! 
  • Seed bombs (aerial reforestation, for the academically inclined). These are my favourite. Guerrilla gardening for everyone. Definitely comical. They're little concoctions of clay, compost and seeds that you throw onto a bare patch of land (affectionately known as green wasteland). You can make them yourself. Here's a great how-to guide.


  1. I think I like christmas even more that I have started making my own gifts. The excitement that I felt as a child is back but in a different way. I also love the genunine appreciation from people with eyes wide open who say, 'Did you really make this???'
    Haven't tried wrapped in a tea towel but have wrapped in newspaper that the kids decorated. I like the tea towel idea though!



Flickr Photostream

Twitter Updates

Meet The Author