The ultimate stuff-free Christmas gift list
Trying to have an ethical Christmas while maintaining well-loved traditions can be a bit of a minefield. It’s not just me, right? Add sustainability into the mix when you’re grappling with the difficulties of selecting a present that your younger sibling’s new girlfriend will actually like or which your nephew doesn’t already have and… well, the joyous festive cheer can fizzle out a little.
As well as thinking about ethical wrapping paper alternatives, why not consider going entirely for non-physical gifts? Here’s some ideas that might help you. Got some better ones? Let me know in the comments section!
Learn something new
There’s a plethora of workshops available that you could book for a loved one. And you really can learn anything: fermenting, knife making, screen printing, bra making, mushroom picking, taxidermy, circus skills. Has the person you are buying for ever mentioned wanting to give something a go? Do you think they have a hitherto undiscovered talent waiting to blossom with just a little encouragement?
Buying someone tickets to an event is a great way to introduce them to your favourite band or give them a night out they would normally never go for. Their local theatre or music venue listings are a good place to start but don’t restrict yourself to this. Check out organisations like museums to see if they run any special events or have a look at the live theatre screenings in a nearby cinema. You might find a pop up roller disco, a wine tasting session or a pole dance class. Get creative!
Strictly, this is still a physical gift but it is an ephemeral one that should be fully biodegradable… Putting in time to make something delicious for someone else is a lovely thing to do. Think jewel-red jars of chilli jam or seriously dark vegan chocolate truffles. No time left to make it yourself? I sympathise! A selection of chocolate bars, a waxed truckle of cheddar (I love this heart-shaped one) or a bottle of something special always go down a treat and won’t last long enough to create clutter.
There are loads of amazing charitable gifts, from a night’s stay in a local shelter for a homeless person, to the purchase of a flock of hens for a family in need or (personal fave) toilet twinning to help fund sanitation projects. This is what Christmas is all about really, isn’t it? And with a charity-based gift, you’re essentially giving twice – to your giftee and to the recipient of the actual gift. Double joy!
The two of us
One of the nicest presents I’ve ever received was a night in an AirBnB in the Brecon Beacons. My sister booked the two of us in for just one night so we could have a trip away together. I loved it because essentially she had given me the gift of a shared mini-adventure, with all the accompanying memories. You could book a meal out at a local restaurant, or plan a day trip to a nearby city. The main idea with this is that you have planned to hang out with that person – you are setting aside some time to do something fun together. Alternatively, you could do this for a time-strapped couple you know, perhaps chucking in (like it’s no big deal when we all know it’s a terrifying thought) the offer of a night’s babysitting at the same time.
Go fully gift-free
Last year, me and my family called a present amnesty – instead of giving and receiving items that had been thoughtfully chosen but still, essentially, added up to a pile of ‘stuff’, we all made one small surprise course for the Christmas meal. Eight delicious courses and four hours later we were stuffed, relaxed and had had a great time. We’d had a lovely day together, shared the cooking burden and had all tried at least one thing we wouldn’t normally eat. You need a few ground rules for this to work well – the courses must be mainly prepared in advance (so no complicated cooking on the day), require minimal washing up and suit everybody’s dietary choices or needs. And it helps if you nominate a co-ordinator – you all give them one word which sums up your dish e.g. spicy, cheese, dessert, and they put everyone in order and keep it all a surprise.
Are you tempted to give it a go? And have you got any suggestions for other stuff-free gifts? I’d love to hear from you! And wish you all a merry, stuff-free Christmas too!