A different way to gift this Christmas

I’m proud to say that although there are still 6 weeks till Christmas, I’ve finished all my Christmas shopping. I would say, “somebody give me a prize!” except that when I told my mom this yesterday, she said she’s also finished all her Christmas shopping – and wrapped all the presents! Crikey. Somebody give her a prize!

The reason this Christmas is so stress-free is not (only) because my mom and I love being organised, but because we’re approaching Christmas differently this year…

It was my sister-in-law Dagmar’s idea, and it’s a brilliant one. She suggested a zero-waste Christmas. I’m sure you’ve heard about the zero-waste movement? There’s a lot to it, but the bit I like the most is that it’s living life with intention: about collecting memories, experiences and adventures over stuff.

Yes please!

I’ve always loved the idea of a minimalist life, but heavens alive kids seem to be born carrying bags full of stuff in their wake (there’s a disgusting image!). When we still lived in a flat and only had one child, it was manageable. Somehow with two, I feel like I’m constantly clearing out toys and clothes and seeing what we can give away (we give away a lot). On the flip side, of course, is how much I love presents. I love them! So much! Opening a present is one of my favourite things in the world to do, and much of the wonder of birthdays and Christmas is linked to the surprise of seeing what’s inside. (I love Christmas stockings too.)

So we’re not going zero-waste as in no presents or stockings for Christmas. Not a chance! But we are aiming to minimise unnecessary gifting – for kids and adults. Dagmar’s suggestion was that instead of buying a new gift for our family Secret Santa, we regift something we have that we don’t use. Brilliant! I love regifting. Marie Kondo, the queen of minimalism, reckons that the gift has served its purpose once you’ve opened it. And if you don’t love it, you should pass it on. I like that idea very much (although I also have hoarder tendencies and keep some things for years and years).

So adult Christmas is sorted – regifting for family Christmas and I know exactly what I want to get Mark (we buy each other one lovely gift for Christmas and one lovely gift for birthdays). The kids are lucky enough to be getting a playhouse for Christmas, and Father Christmas is bringing them one awesome toy and stockings full of smaller toys and delicious edibles they aren’t allowed in real life. It is surprisingly difficult to resist buying fun stuff for your kids (even if you’re a minimalist aspiring to zero-waste!) but having a stocking to fill makes it easier. And they need backpacks, so I got ridiculously cute ones. And it’s time to start a dress-up box, so I got some previously loved dress-up clothes. Christmas for my kids done! The nieces are getting creativity boxes, full of fun things to craft with (which I can’t wait to put together).

And then it’s friends… I tried to be creative here. I usually buy Arty’s besties small gifts, but this year I’m taking them (and their moms, my besties) out for banana splits instead. We’ve found Cape Town’s greatest banana split (it’s a hidden secret) and what could be more fun than an outing to eat a giant banana split with your best friends? We’re taking another very good friend for tea and scones and to wander the gardens at the Cellars-Hohenort (Cape Town’s finest tea and scones), which will be such fun. Yes, I seem to be replacing gifts with sugary experiences. I’m okay with that – Christmas is for treats!

I suppose the point I’m trying to get across is that it doesn’t just have to be about presents, about stuff, about the consumerist frenzy. I love the idea of Christmas (and birthdays) being a time for treats of all kinds – for fun experiences and memories and adventures. I thought this was a mostly-great list of suggestions for gifts that aren’t toys, and I love the idea of thinking out the box and not just ordering more stuff online.

Because goodness me, none of us need more stuff, do we?

PS: One day when I’m altruistic, we may shift this idea to donations to people or animals who need money more than we need experiences, but I’m not quite there yet I’m afraid…

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