If, like us, you’re already feeling a little bit overwhelmed by the all the ‘Black Friday’ offers arriving in your inbox on an hourly basis, the ‘spend, spend, spend’ messages in the media and the pressure to buy ‘all the stuff’ this Christmas, then read on...
Over recent years Christmas has become more and more expensive. The Bank of England reports an average household spend of £2,500 a month, with this figure shooting up by £800 in December, as we indulge in eating more, drinking more and buying more.
Black Friday is now less about a single day of special deals and discounts. Instead is has become a week-long campaign to part us from our hard earned cash, tempting us into early Christmas gift buying or spending on things we don’t really need.
But things seem to be changing and this year it feels like people want to start getting back to basics, reducing consumption at Christmas time and making more sustainable choices.
The ‘Greta Thunberg effect’ of 2019 means that we’re more aware than ever of the environmental impact of our purchases. A recent report in the Huffington Post states that
“Consumer demand for eco-friendly products does appear to be increasing; search volume for sustainable gifts is up 118% on Pinterest compared to last year.”
So we've compiled our 6 Top Tips on how to gift more sustainably this year:
1. Choose quality over quantity
One way that we can make an impact this year could come from changing our focus from buying lots of presents and instead buying fewer, high quality, gifts that the recipient will appreciate, enjoy and use.
Buying better quality and more durable items will also be better for the environment and reduce the amount of waste that goes to landfill.
Plus it will help to cut down on the purchasing frenzy, piles of packaging, production and transportational environmental impacts, and will importantly free up some valuable time to enjoy together!
2. Support local independent businesses
There are so many benefits to shopping locally and supporting independent businesses and makers markets - we could go on all day, but you're busy, so we will spare you with just a few:
- Your gifts will be unique, often hand crafted one offs that will surprise and delight the recipient.
- Independent businesses are run by people who have a passion for what they do. You’ll usually find warm and welcoming shop owners who provide a fantastic service and can offer advice if needed.
- Buying locally instead of online reduces packaging and the impact of transporting the goods to your house, especially if you purchase locally made products, which have a much lower environmental impact (and better provenance too!).
- Your money stays in the local economy. Research on spending by local authorities shows that for every £1 spent with a small or medium sized business, 63p stays in the local economy.
3. Make your own gifts
If you have the skills you could make your own gifts that are completely unique, personal and long lasting (unless it’s food related of course!).
Lovingly hand crafted gifts definitely stand out on Christmas morning - there’s something special about receiving a present that someone has put time, effort and love into making especially for you. Something to really cherish, and no chance of any duplicate gifts!
But don't worry if you don’t think you have any crafty skills as there are so many crafts that you can pick up quickly and start making rewarding and excellent items relatively easily. You could join a workshop to get up to speed and making under expert tuition in no time.
Or why not give your friend or family member the opportunity to learn how to make something for themselves with a gift voucher and the choice of 1000's of creative workshops? Maybe you could join them and both learn a new skill together - quality time and learning new skills. Win win!
4. Make ethical choices
If you’re spending extra money this season, this is a good opportunity to show brands what goods you want to consume. Use the power of the pound and choose to buy from brands that, for example, don’t use plastic packaging, have fair wage policies and have sustainability at the heart of what they do.
You could consider buying gifts for people that are good for the environment. How about a fancy reusable water bottle for your gym-loving sister? Or an environmentally friendly travel mug for your coffee addict best friend?
And don’t forget the wrapping paper. One study found that Brits will get through 108 million rolls of wrapping paper over the festive season – that’s four rolls per household – or enough to go around the world 22 times! But did you know that not all wrapping paper is recyclable? Avoid glittery or shiny foiled papers or try using a scarf or fabric gift bags that can be re-used.
5. Consider buying secondhand
Shopping in charity shops or buying second hand on sites such as Ebay and Gumtree can be the perfect place to find a bargain gift – someone else’s junk could be your loved ones treasure! They’re also brilliant places to look for stocking fillers, secret Santa gifts or even Christmas jumpers that you know you’ll only wear once.
6. Swap 'stuff' for experiences
If we ask our children what gifts they received for Christmas last year, they can probably only recall one or two items. The things they do remember are the experiences they had. The trip to the local rollerskate rink on Christmas Eve (when Dad fell over!) and the theatre tickets they were given as a present.
Being given the gift of a day out or a treat to enjoy later in the year is a wonderful surprise and perfect for people of all ages. Ideas include cinema tickets, afternoon tea, annual membership to the National Trust or a local museum. Or why not let each person design their own day out for the family to enjoy together?
You could even gift someone a day out learning a new craft. Of course we may be a bit biased, but we have had so much wonderful and heartwarming feedback from people (including our loved ones) who have received a CraftCourses gift voucher and with it the freedom to choose and try something new that we think they make THE BEST gifts - longlasting and meaningful.
Making things is good for the soul, we truly believe that.
What could be better? Well, you could always join the recipient and make some super special memories, and keepsakes, togther!
We would love to know if you’re planning a different kind of Christmas this year and if you have any other ideas to add to our list. Head over to our Facebook page to join the conversation and let us know.
We hope you enjoyed reading this. You may also like to read our blog post about why we are NOT doing a Black Friday deal, and what we ARE doing instead >