Call to swap presents for ‘gift of time’ this Xmas


For­get elec­tion cam­paign­ing – a Fife mother is hit­ting the streets for an en­tirely more fes­tive rea­son.

Mother-of-two Anya Hart Dyke is dress­ing up as a Christ­mas present to speak to shop­pers across Fife, Perth, Dundee and Ed­in­burgh – in a bid to con­vince them to swap ex­pen­sive presents for the “gift of time”.

The cam­paigner wants shop­pers to forego com­mer­cial­ism this Christ­mas and in­stead fo­cus on the mes­sage of “less stuff, less waste, bet­ter mem­o­ries”.

Ms Hart Dyke has sug­gested par­ents in­stead give ex­pe­ri­ences such as teach­ing their child yoga or go­ing fairy door hunt­ing in the woods as presents.

A Fife cam­paigner has launched a drive to curb the grow­ing ma­te­ri­al­is­tic na­ture of Christ­mas.

Anya Hart Dyke has taken to the streets of Scot­land to urge par­ents to cut back on com­mer­cial­ism dur­ing the fes­tive sea­son and in­stead give their chil­dren the gift of “time and ex­pe­ri­ences”.

The mother-of-two is dress­ing up as a Christ­mas present over the next few week­ends to speak to shop­pers across Fife, Perth, Dundee and Ed­in­burgh – in a bid to en­cour­age them to swap ex­pen­sive presents for gifts such as go­ing fairy door hunt­ing in the woods or teach­ing their child yoga.

Ms Hart Dyke, whose book, Our Throw­away So­ci­ety, is due to be pub­lished this month, said: “The way we cur­rently cel­e­brate Christ­mas comes with an en­vi­ron­men­tal cost as well as a so­cial one – some re­search sug­gests that ma­te­ri­al­is­tic chil­dren are more prone to anx­i­ety, de­pres­sion and self­ish be­hav­iours.

“I am pro­mot­ing ‘less stuff, less waste, bet­ter mem­o­ries’ this Christ­mas, to try and nor­malise giv­ing mean­ing­ful ex­pe­ri­ences to chil­dren as gifts and to chal­lenge the ram­pant con­sumerism that is pro­moted at Christ­mas. We need to teach chil­dren to value friends and fam­ily for the fun you can have with them – and what you can learn from them – not what they can af­ford to buy for us.”

She added: “Most par­ents be­moan their homes heav­ing with un­der-played with toys as well as the cost of toys but not giv­ing presents to chil­dren is the least so­cially-ac­cept­able eth­i­cal choice at Christ­mas.”

She sug­gested giv­ing chil­dren presents of spe­cific ac­tiv­i­ties they can do with par­ents and friends – and giv­ing the “gift of time”. She said that she hoped her chil­dren – five year old Mairi and two-yearold Pa­trick – would grow up un­der­stand­ing her phi­los­o­phy.

Ms Hart Dyke, who lives in Blebo Craigs, out­side St An­drews, said: “You can give the gift of time to your own child this Christ­mas and sit down with your child to come up with gift of time presents for other chil­dren in your life – nieces, neph­ews, god­chil­dren.

“The chal­leng­ing part is that my daugh­ter is now five and is start­ing to re­quest thing that she sees at her friends’ houses as presents. It is about try­ing to get the con­ver­sa­tion go­ing and at this stage to make them re­alise that Christ­mas is about more than presents and can be about fam­ily and spend­ing time to­gether.”

Last year, re­tail­ers tried to cut down on waste over the fes­tive pe­riod by ax­ing plas­tic pack­ag­ing. John Lewis and Waitrose said that from this Christ­mas, they will only sell crack­ers made with toys made from re­cy­clable ma­te­ri­als.


← Anya Hart Dyke, in­set, wants peo­ple to fo­cus less on the con­sumer as­pect of Christ­mas and more on sharing time with friends and fam­ily

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