How to have a more Mindful Christmas
Is it that time of year already? Unbelievably, Christmas is just a few short weeks away, causing panic as everyone becomes preoccupied with shopping, decorating and planning extravagant meals. It’s the season of greed and excess, but there are ways that you can be more mindful with your choices at this time of year. Following on from my tips for how to have a slow Christmas last year, I thought I would offer a little advice for anyone hoping for a more sustainable and meaningful festive season.
Shop ethical & shop local
Guess what? The big high street chains don’t need your money as much as the small independent shops that you love to browse but perhaps don’t buy from. Yes, these small boutiques are usually a bit more expensive, but it’s worth paying a little bit more for goods that you know are ethically made while putting money in the pockets of an independent shop owner. If you’re worried about the costs involved with shopping local and shopping more ethically, the answer is simple: buy less. You don’t need overflowing stockings and piles of gifts, one or two thoughtful presents is more than enough. I’m going to put together an ethical Christmas gift guide that will also include suggestions of my favourite small stores, so keep your eyes peeled!
Be wary of greed
Christmas encourages us to be greedy, both with what we eat & drink and with what we buy & receive. If someone asks for your Christmas list, don’t send them an excessively long list of things that you ‘want’ and ‘need’. Instead, point them in the direction of places where you love to shop, tell them you’d love a shared experience over a physical gift or offer them a couple of suggestions of items you would really appreciate opening on Christmas morning, ensuring that they are within their price range. When it comes to consuming food and drink at Christmas, be wary of your limits. The festive season isn’t an excuse to gorge yourself with food and alcohol - you’ll only make yourself ill.
When I was growing up, I can’t ever remember going outdoors around Christmas time (other than the year Father Christmas brought me a bike). All of my childhood memories of the festive season involved being inside: playing with toys, eating meals, becoming increasingly bored. Now that we have a dog, heading outside at least twice on Christmas Day is essential, but we don’t really need the excuse. A little fresh air is the perfect antidote to all the time you spend cooped up indoors at this time of year, so stretch your legs and head outside at least once a day.
Think of alternatives to gifts
There’s no reason why you have to buy gifts for your loved ones at Christmas. Yes, they expect it, but if you explain why you’re deciding not to buy gifts this year, chances are that they’ll understand. What about making something instead? You could spend a day making jam, chocolate truffles or gin and place these under the tree instead of second guessing what someone will like. Or, as me and my boyfriend often do, you could choose to give experiences rather than physical presents. This could be anything from a gig or theatre ticket to a weekend away, or you could even create your own vouchers for things like taking your mum out for dinner or treating your best friend to a pampering session at home.
Don’t go overboard with the decorations
Personally, I love having a real Christmas tree in your home (which is why we got ours so early). I love the look of having a real live tree inside your house and I adore the fresh pine needle smell. I’ll also put a wreath on our door and a few wreathes on the walls, but that’s where I stop. I prefer to bring out extra blankets, lanterns and candles to create a cosy feeling at this time of year, rather than placing plastic decorations on every available surface. Most of what I consider to be my Christmas decorations are items that I use at other times of the year - I just bring them all together for an overtly cosy ambiance at Christmas. If you do like to decorate your home, try to stay clear of disposable plastic decorations and choose items made out of durable or natural materials like wood, paper or metal that you can easily store away and use for years to come.
It’s OK to have the Christmas that YOU want
There’s so much pressure to have a ‘perfect’ Christmas - whether that’s in the eyes of the people that you are hosting or whether you are trying to live up to the images you see on Pinterest. This is a sure-fire way to get stressed and sad over the festive season. Stop trying to live up to other people’s expectations and do Christmas the way you want to do Christmas. Decorate how you want to decorate, without feeling like you have to adhere to a certain aesthetic or that you have to make your home look ‘festive’. Cook the Christmas dinner that you actually want to eat, rather than making food that you don’t really like and will get wasted. Buy gifts for who you want to buy gifts for, not who you feel like you should. Let go of the fantasy of a perfect ‘Christmas’ and make your own traditions.