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Ideas for a non (or less) consuming Christmas

by Ismay Ozga

We asked one of our favourite bloggers, Hannah of Seeds and Stitches, to write this guest post to share her ideas on how to consume less this Christmas. As Hannah says, it’s easy to be overwhelmed by choice and ‘stuff’ at this time of year, so she’s come up with some thoughts on how to navigate through it all. Read her tips below.

As Christmas creeps ever closer, I have been thinking about ways i can enjoy and celebrate the good bits of the season without it feeling like a god-awful consumer-fest. I pulled these thoughts together into a blog post that Patchwork fans might appreciate.

At this time of year, it’s easy to be overwhelmed with gift guides, wish lists, party dress buying guides, essential holiday makeup you NEED, Best Buy Christmas booze lists, and, and, and….  and before you know it you’ve spent hundreds, if not thousands, of pounds buying gifts for everyone, new outfits, Christmas films, stocking fillers and food. But it doesn’t have to be this way, I feel so so sure of it.

If we focus on celebrating the season– the solstice, the frost and the cold, the fires that warm us…if we try to decorate simply and give thoughtfully…. if we focus on the giving, rather than the receiving….then maybe those things will help us to reconnect to what Christmas is about- love, grace, giving, family and community. Christmas shouldn’t leave us feeling totally strung out, in debt, with a planet struggling with the huge influx of unwanted presents, wrapping and food waste.

To begin, here are some ideas to have a thrifty, low consuming Christmas!

Give back.

Donate money or time to a homelessness charity (or one of your choice) We are currently selling tons of stuff on eBay and have opted to give 10% of everything we sell to a charity that provides a meal for a family struggling to make ends meet in the UK.  Donate to the Big Issue.

Contact your local food bank and offer to  collect donations or help pack boxes. Time bank has tons more ideas too.

Avoid toys.

I am coming to realise that kids don’t need that many toys at all, in fact too much stuff can actually be damaging for kids imaginations and sensory development, and the planet certainly doesn’t need all the plastic fumes clogging up the ozone layer. Here are hundreds of non-toy gift ideas for kids.

Bypass the stocking.

I know, I know,  Not only should you avoid toys, you should deprive your kids of a stocking too! Baaaah humbug. But most of those pound shop stocking fillers end up in landfill anyway.

Alternatively, wrap small but useful things, or little parcels of food. My 2 year old would be utterly delighted if I wrapped mini pats of butter and cream cheese (err, yeah. she loves butter), boxes of raisins, buttons, individual crayons and pencils, individual socks etc.

Buy fewer presents!

”Have an “I won’t if you won’t” agreement with friends and family and save money and hassle. We have done this with my family this year and I feel light as a feather. No stress!

Or set up a secret santa for friends and family, like we have done with Dave’s family this year. If friends and family are still keen to buy you or your kids presents, choose one big thing and ask for contributions toward it: driving lessons, a bike etc, a spa day. Patchwork offer a service to help with just that. We’re using them this year for Frankie’s present.

Make, make, make.

Make, rather than buy presents, wherever possible, or buy second hand. Chutneys and jams make lovely, thrifty presents. We made tons of seville orange marmalade in January which we saved for Christmas. (organised or what? eh, eh?) Make your own simple cards printed on to recycled paper, or send an e-card and newsletter instead.

Avoid Amazon.

They are tax-evading, union-busting bullies; undercutting and consequently bankrupting tons of independent companies. Those next day delivery deals are tempting I know. And I’m not perfect. But I’ve found that eBay has most of what Amazon has.

Focus on the season.

Focus on the seasonal delights of Christmas- the winter solstice, evergreens, candle light, log fires, Jack frost. Thats where the real magic is. Creating traditions around those things.

Use recycled wrapping.

Use fabric wrapping paper from your stash, if you can. Or use old newspaper, tarted up with string or wool or fancy gift tags. Even if you have to buy the fabric, it’s better than wasting paper as the fabric can be re-used year after year.

homemade Christmas tree decorations

Buy or rent a living tree.

Our tree is waiting for us in the garden as we bought a potted tree last year that we have managed to keep alive. An essentially free tree! Alternatively there are companies all over the UK that offer the option of renting a living tree, do an internet search for a company near you.


Thank you Hannah for your brilliant tips. Check out Hannah’s lovely blog here for lots of craft and creativity.

Has this post inspired you to make a Christmas patchwork and save on waste? Get some ideas here or create your own from scratch.

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