Thursday, 9 December 2010

Whose birthday is it anyway?

There was an interesting statistic in hubby’s Sunday paper the other day.
Apparently, the first Monday in December is the peak of online shopping for Christmas.  This year, due to the timing of the calendar it was predicted to peak on Monday the 29th November.

This time of year is not, actually the joy and cosy family time that is marketed at us.  Frankly, do you know even one person for whom it is that?  Well, maybe one…

In other words, we are buying the promise of a better Christmas when we go Christmas shopping and buy too much.  We always buy too much when we go Christmas shopping.

Unplug the Christmas Machine: A Complete Guide to Putting Love and Joy Back into the SeasonWell get this – it is not your fault and not due to lack of will power.  But many of us cannot afford it and that is hard. 
There is a sophisticated marketing tool out there designed to part you from your money and make you want stuff and feel that you are buying a better Christmas. 
Last year I wrote about the car boot sale at this time of year. 
My mantra is this: ‘everything you buy new can be got down the car boot sale’ and it can.  In other words, the promise of a better life wears off very quickly and all that is left is the credit card bill.

'Unplug the Christmas Machine' is a book about this stuff - makes me realise I am not alone!  Give it to like-minded friends for Christmas.

What we know is, there is no such thing as a ‘wander round the shops’.  You end up buying something.
The shops you go to -and the online shops you frequent - are where you will spend your money. 

Now my big question is am I offending my relatives and friends and do they think I’m mean?
And will they mind getting the same Christmas card for the third year in a row? 

I bought 2 boxes of mixed cards 3 years back, only to find that they were ALL Christmas Fairies.  The thing is I don’t want to waste them – I don’t mind buying new ones, and am hoping to make some this year if the fairies run out but what with the Christmas card list being much reduced and money given to charity instead, they are lasting well. 
I try very hard to give back as much as I get and more but to be creative in how I do it. 

Our Christmas strategy  – but make up your own there is no one right answer to this:

·         Cut down the present and card list by simply suggesting that as we all have enough stuff, we could donate to charity instead. 
·         Only send cards to people you don’t see.  If you see them say ‘happy Christmas’ and explain your card strategy.  Most people heave a sigh of relief and express the wish to do something similar.  Before we did this we had a list of 200 cards to send (and growing).  It caused arguments about getting them written!
·         Think about what you want to achieve with Christmas shopping before you set out.
.     Only venture to the shops where you want to spend your money – and take a list.   
·         Decide your take on it before you go shopping - eg buy from organisations whose aims you support, make your own gifts, send money to charity and otherwise use it as a conscious time to make the world a better place. 
·         We used to go out with our children doing some kind of free fun or good work as part of Christmas.  I don’t even know if they remember it now, but we even did an anonymous beach clean up one year (great fun!)
·         One year a pile of us grownups had a wee fire on the beach and cooked bacon sandwiches.  We cleared up well of course and no one would have known we were there.
·         Make the Christmas cake on Boxing Day when you are bored and the shops are shut.  No one has room for it on Christmas day anyway.  Ice it straight away.  I’ll swear no one will even know the difference. 
·         Get your icing and marzipan in January and put them in the freezer for next year. 
.      read 'unplug the Christmas Machine on the 1st December every year!

Once I let go of trying to be what I think I ought, this Christmas thing really is fun.  
I have to remind myself of that and let go all over again every year!
The trick to this is, if anything makes you feel ‘oh no not another task’ DON’T DO IT. if you go whoopee  that sounds fun then DO IT.
If you push yourself this time of year, we all know what happens – you get ill for Christmas or New Year.  Your body gets you the respite you need in other words.

·         If you have kids, cut out a potato print of a Christmas tree.  Use kiddie paint to make printed cards. Even tiny kids can do this.  Write the address on the back of the card.  Tape the open edge of the card together and you don’t need an envelope. 
·         Last year I had a fire in the back garden and it was great.  (Yeah I have a thing about fire…)  We were snowed in so had to abandon plans to go away.  It was great and we saw my sister in March instead.
·         See article on this blog re buying presents at the car boot sale and donating the rest to charity (or buying the person more presents for the money!)
·         Get useful things for people such as a delivery of everyday groceries from Tesco for 20-something son…
·         Make presents – it doesn’t take any longer than all that shopping.
·         Think about the ‘whose birthday is it anyway?’ mantra.  It’s not mine, I think I got it from the New Road Map Foundation website last year.  I use it a lot and it clarifies my thinking.
here is a felted 'loopa knit' scarf - potential Christmas present?? though the photo makes it look rather strange...


  1. Superb advice Janet! I am looking forward to a very simple Christmas and I've got a feeling it is going to be really good. Your blogs are
    really good so keep 'em coming!

  2. I came across your article about veg growing in the Permaculture magazine so thought I'd pop over and visit you!
    I have to say I wrote a post along similar lines of 'I hate shopping' before Christmas, but I solved it by shopping on Etsy from only Craftspeople, hopefully like me, who are trying to make a few extra bob.
    It sure worked for me this year and I even feel like I made a couple of new friends too, as well as giving fabulous and 'well within budget' presents.