Steer away from unbridled consumerism
Christmas is a holiday with huge positives: a time with family, a badlyneeded mid-winter pause, and possibly, a time for reflection, looking back over the year that has been. And what a year we have all had in 2016.
One aspect of Christmas that I struggle with is the unbridled consumerism, from adverts on telly to the huge waste: recycling points after Christmas overflow with packaging; dumps drown in old toys, thrown out to make room for new.
So here are my suggestions for a lighter touch Christmas which hopefully will leave me at least feeling less over-indulged in all sorts of ways:
Buy fewer presents, and just those that you know are really wanted! Encourage everyone to write a Christmas list of things they would be truly delighted to receive.
People, particularly children, can get swamped with presents that don’t mean much, and we are all guilty of buying stuff just because we feel we have to give. If you have kids or a significant other, agree to exchange just one big present rather than loads of bits and bobs. It will be much more memorable too.
Agree with siblings and close friends that there’s nothing that you need, and diarise some time to spend together as an alternative mutual present.
Consider giving a ‘passing forward’ gift – this is a sum of money which the recipient can donate to any cause that they would like to help. It’s amazingly successful – people love giving and children love to feel that they could help, for instance, their favourite animal charity in this way.
Have a fabulous Christmas dinner, which will taste all the better if you buy locally produced ingredients. You can pick up a bird direct from local farms, and farmers’ markets are great for earthy potatoes and all the trimmings to go with. What could be better than eating vegetables pulled out of Chiltern soil just a few days before they arrive on your Christmas table? Better than the shrink-wrapped supermarket options.
Make Christmas day a palm oil-free celebration. Not easy, particularly to find a pudding without palm oil – I now make my own, substituting butter and ground almonds to avoid this incredibly damaging crop.
And vitally, try to work less. Keep it simple so that you can reach the other side without feeling exhausted and as though the festivities have been for everyone apart from you. Have fun!