Have you ever wondered how much other people truly appreciate your gifts? Or stopped to consider just how much value the presents you receive really bring to your life? Do you ever wonder: Is it all worth it?
Who do we buy presents for at Christmas? First there’s immediate family: Partners, kids, parents, siblings and grandchildren are likely among the first in line. Then we have nephews, nieces, maybe aunts, uncles, grandparents, cousins.
And non-relatives? Best friends, other friends, friends of friends, friends’ partners, partner’s friends, friends’ kids, colleagues, friendly acquaintances… My point is, for some, the circle of people exchanging presents every year seems to get bigger and bigger. Where to draw the line? That is the question.
Why do we buy so many presents for so many people?
Partly because many of us enjoy choosing gifts for lots of people and partly because we like to be considered generous. Definitely not stingy. Birthdays, Christmas, engagements, marriages, christenings, baby showers, Easter… All of these appear to require gifts to be given, the expectation being that the gifts will be a) tangible objects all wrapped and ready to be opened and b) reasonably priced… not in the sense of being cheap but in the sense that the giver is perceived to have spent “enough”, regardless of whether or not the gift has much in the way of real value for the recipient.
I love Christmas and the traditional gift-giving among family and those closest to me but when it comes to those not quite so close to me, I’d really rather do without the mandatory gift exchange and the associated pressure to remember birthdays and spend appropriately in return. I prefer spur-of-the-moment gifts where it is less about what is expected and more about the sentiment behind it. One such gift was about a decade ago when a friend of mine, on finding out that it was my birthday, simply smiled, congratulated me, put 50p in a vending machine and asked: “What do you want?” I loved the unconditional simplicity of it! Plus, she was a good friend. I didn’t really need anything else.
Here are some of my suggestions for ‘green giving’ at Christmas.
- Make something – edible gifts are nice.
- Give one single thing to each of your recipients rather than a bunch of stuff.
- Family heirlooms – never underestimate a good hand-me-down…
- Arrange a Secret Santa – See Wikipedia or click here for rules and variations.
Places to browse:
- Charity shops – Oxfam has an online shop.
- Vintage shops – there are some good vintage clothing shops in Edinburgh to rummage around in.
- Antiques shops and auctions
- Craft fairs and farmers’ markets for local produce.
- Fairtrade shops – Check out our Eco Shop for edibles and stocking fillers.
Nature gifts to inspire kids (and adults too):
- Seeds, plants and trees – Many of the plants and seeds my dad got for me when I was a child are alive, edible and even spontaneously reproducing to this day!
- Garden wildlife gifts – bird bath, feeder, binoculars, nest box…
- Wildlife books
- Group membership – I used to be in the Young Ornithologists Club, now known as Wildlife Explorers and Phoenix. Check out the RSPB website.
- Chickens – Fresh eggs and cuteness. (For life, not just for Christmas.)
- A good wormery, ant farm or beehive…?
- A day out or mini break
- Concert tickets
- Classes – eg. cookery, sports, foreign language course
- Offer to mend or alter something – Is your recipient hopeless at DIY or perhaps you are an amateur seamster/seamstress…
- Create – a poem, a song, short play, comedy sketch, interpretive dance…
- Check out Oxfam Unwrapped charity gifts.
- Membership of Greener Kirkcaldy. It’s easy to join. Members receive a discount in the Hub get invited to special events and help shape our work.