It is the week before Christmas. When I was a child I waited for Christmas and counted the days until I could look under the Christmas tree and find gifts from Santa Claus. I always asked myself why adults got stressed so much before Christmas Eve, but now I am older I know the answer I was looking for!
Some families have many traditions, we really didn’t. There were a few constant things though, I always knew my uncle will bring a Christmas tree and Mum will cook some dishes that we only ever eat on these days. Decorating the Christmas tree was done just on the 24th of December, not like now when people decorate it almost one month before.
For me, Christmas is the moment when families spend time together. Sadly, the last years are different because we are spread around the world. I always like to meet up with my family, relatives and friends, but while travelling sometimes it is very hard and quite expensive to meet all of them.
On the upside, being away during this period brings less stress. Why? Because when we are at home we, like most people, kind of feel obligated to share Christmas presents and it means:
- Most of the time last minute shopping
- What to buy?
- How much we can spend?
- How to buy something that will actually be wanted or useful?
- How to share time during Christmas period?
After receiving a present I don’t feel super comfortable not to give one. Nowadays I feel like people give super fancy gifts like phones, trips, even cars and all brandy items or sometimes ‘something’ that you would hide in the ‘unusable Christmas presents cupboard’. It is a materialistic world, but I do believe that the most important thing is the attention we give to each other.
Even though this year we are spending Christmas all alone in Mexico, I would like to share some tips for Christmas presents or just presents in general that might help with your preparations and to release a bit of stress. Maybe it is too late for this Christmas, but maybe you could use them in the future.
Prepare in advance
Handmade and homemade gifts will always be great if they are useful and have some purpose to the people receiving them. For example if you have a garden you always can prepare organic sets of spices. If you have tomatoes you can prepare salsa, dried tomatoes chips or dried tomatoes in olive oil, all you need is to put them in some nice jars. One year I baked tasty ginger cookies and I think they were a great success.
If you make things at home like soap, shampoos, creams or candles why not to give them as presents too.
Sometimes going to the markets and special bazaars you can find great things all year round so play smart and use any opportunity to buy something different, but don’t forget to think about the person you will give it to. Nobody, just like you, really wants crap they don’t need and it just creates more waste on this planet.
If you don’t have time during the holiday period to cook, bake or organise events, but do have resources then just book events planner services, order sweets from bakeries, use services from local small businesses.
Share time and experiences together
Sometimes it is not possible to meet all the people you would like during a couple of holiday days, but you can always start it earlier by inviting people for dinners or even just a cup of coffee. A nice cozy dinner with some aunts, uncles, grannies or friends who don’t really cook at home might become a tradition. You might also like to share other experiences together, maybe some spa time with your old good friend, car racing or a sport game. Maybe even a trip away for a weekend.
Last year we couldn’t meet with my family during the Christmas period, so instead we met in Barcelona at the start of December and had a great time together.
There are so many shiny boxes, bags and paper you can buy in the shops or use the services where people pack presents for you. Many shops where you buy things during the Christmas period are even asking if they should pack your bought item as a gift. You might be tempted to say yes, but it is not so personal and they will also use a lot of packaging and plastic that will just end up being thrown away.
As we are trying to avoid bags and packaging in general we have some ideas and suggestions about how to pack your presents. For sure you have many bags, bit of material and maybe some ribbon or lace at home somewhere, so just reuse it. You can use old magazines or newspapers, they are always a great fit if you are giving books. You can make things more exciting by adding some dry leaves, maybe a dried chili or orange slice.
You can make some reusable bags by yourself or buy them, they can be reused and useful in future for whoever receives them. We also realised that instead of wrapping paper we could use some natural cotton or linen kitchen towels, and they are actually great to wrap gifts in. Add some tags or small paintings, ribbons or even a small Christmas decoration to make it more cheerful. If you bake cookies make a hole in one and tie it on as a decoration, the cinnamon and ginger smell will be magic 🙂
Do NOT stress
I know it might be hard, but you can help yourself with just a few simple details. Make a schedule, do one thing at a time, make sure you know when to say “No” and also that it is fine to do it. As mentioned before make things in advance, ask for help and just remember to breathe.
Don’t forget to enjoy the celebrations. It is quite a magic time and presents are really not the most important thing, in the end it is about feeling well and happy, sharing warmth with people you care for, and thinking about the year you had 🙂
Do you really need to bring home a big cut Christmas tree? Maybe it is enough a small tree in a pot, one you can plant in you garden later and maybe in the future decorate it outside. Or maybe you can make your own Christmas ‘tree’ from pictures, books or just use branches.
You don’t really need to buy new plastic decorations or lights every year, use the ones you already have. Maybe create a tradition to make handmade Christmas decorations, even better if they are ones that can be eaten after! Or, maybe add one new decoration each year, it will create a new memory.
Less plastic, less packaging, less stress, less driving to the shopping malls, less presents and more quality time!