I think that Christmas is an incredibly magical time of year. I’m a big fan of fairy lights and the feeling of enchantment that this brings along with the excitement of spending time with loved ones. The smell of cinnamon and a warming glass of mulled wine is enough to bring a smile to my face and the landscape dusted with frost makes me think of wild and fierce fairies.
I am lucky to have a family and a 6 year-old-daughter who is very much into the magic of Christmas and it’s special to be part of this. However I am not immune to the pressures of buying too much and joining in the general frenzy that the season brings.
It’s almost as though there is a collective energy that sweeps you along and I think it’s useful to pause and breathe.
More than ever I think it’s important to consider the environmental impact of our spending habits. There is so much waste. So much packaging. So many choices!
It’s the thought that counts
My creativity has been utilised for many years in making gifts and I think that this is a lovely way to give someone a piece of your heart and soul. It doesn’t have to be perfect and it certainly doesn’t have to be expensive.
I often think the greatest gifts are found in nature! I love finding feathers, acorns, leaves, pebbles. These things can be wrapped in tissue paper, painted on or made into a special tag to make the gift feel extra special.
Layer it up
Unwrapping presents as a child was somewhat of crazy experience. It was amazing and exciting and full of ‘wow’ and ‘thank you’ and then ‘next!’ which is unrealistic as an adult. You can’t keep recreating that experience (unless of course budget is not an option and you haven’t already bought these things for yourself).
Instead, I think you can replace that sense of wonder with a slowing down of the experience, by adding the special little touches. Sometimes it’s hard to think of something special to write other than ‘happy Christmas, or thinking of you’ and to be honest by the time I get to the tag writing stage I’m pretty tired!
This year I’m starting backwards. I’m starting with the sentiment, the hand printed wrapping, the tags. I’m going to use lyrics, jokes, quotes from Elf and collect little things to layer the gift giving experience.
For me this is the fun part. The part with magic and soul, where I hope the receiver will be able to tell that I love them and I think of them often even when I am not nearby.
I don’t have a lot of disposable income and so I have to think pretty carefully when it comes to planning my gifting. I start by writing down everyone’s name that I am buying for and then brainstorm potential ideas.
Obviously you know who you need to buy for, but writing it down and leaving spaces for gift ideas helps to get the process started. It makes it a bit more real which helps me feel a little more in control, which therefore leaves space in my head to enjoy the process.
I have started earlier this year as my business also gets really busy at this time and I need to be packaging up lots of orders too!
I am lucky in that I am really involved with the handmade community in Cornwall, after having a stall at the farmers market in Sennen and also helping to organise the FLAME Christmas event at the Acorn keeps me in touch with all the wonderful things that people are creating.
Buying handmade is a great way to spend ethically as you know that the money is going to a person that is passionate about their work and also part of your local community.
Craft fairs are a great place to find gifts as you often get original items, ethical goods and less packaging. This isn’t the cheap option. This is the artisan option, where the maker is valued for their skills and time.
It’s important that cheapness is no longer recognised as cheap... there’s normally a reason and the best one is that they can buy in bulk and therefore afford to sell at discount prices. The worst is that the conditions of the makers is appalling and they are underpaid and overworked. That’s not something that I want to support.
I’d much rather know that my choices are making someone do that happy dance.
Buy better not more
I have been thinking about this a lot recently. In order to avoid wasted gifts, you know the ones that just don’t get loved - no matter how hard you tried - sometimes it’s best to just upgrade everyday items. How about some amazingly packaged organic soap (you could even make your own!) Shampoo and shower bars from an ethical/sustainable outlet ( look on Etsy!)
With so much thought going into thinking of others I also think that the magic is within you and you need to look after yourself. Don’t get burnt out by trying to do too much. Take time to relax and dream about what you want to manifest in your life. It doesn’t have to be about things. I think there is something liberating in considering what you want for Christmas. It’s like you have the permission to think about what would make you really happy. Write it down! Breathe life into it. Become the you, you really want to be.