December is finally here, and the hustle and bustle of the holiday season has officially begun. Putting up decorations, writing cards, filling our calendars and buying gifts - there are some things that we do without questioning it, year after year. And, whether or not the snow sticks on the ground, one tradition that is here to stay is gift-giving.
For anyone that is looking to live a more simple, and less wasteful life, gift-giving can feel counter-intuitive, even when its from the heart. Holiday shopping demonstrates consumerism at its finest, but it is also a tradition that many of us have grown up doing, and that is pretty much ingrained into our society. And there is nothing wrong with the act of giving, because it is great, and consciously approaching Christmas doesn't mean not giving presents. Rather, just consciously thinking about what we're giving.
The starting block for conscious gift giving is simple - buy local. Supporting local businesses is giving back to the community, saves the carbon and financial cost of shipping and eliminates the worry that the gift will arrive on time. Taking it one step further and buying handmade gifts from local artisans means we're supporting a local, and likely small business and giving something that is one of a kind, and made with love.
Locally-made products can be found in specialty shops and consignment stores, but the easiest, most concentrated spot will be craft shows and marketplaces. There are so many Christmas markets and artisan shows all over cities in the weeks and days leading up to Christmas that make shopping local easy. Many events are listed on Facebook, but also take the time to peak up at posters at street corners and on bulletin boards. Local businesses tend to support each other, making news boards in locally-owned coffee shops and restaurants a hotspot for event posters and business cards of entrepreneurs.
Keeping up with whats happening in our communities is not only useful for giving a locally sourced, material gift, but is also key if your version of conscious gift-giving is an experience. Anything from tickets to a play or sporting event, enrolment in a workshop, a membership at a studio or a pass to a museum - giving an experience creates zero waste, and is easy, yet more personal than a gift card.
Last on the list, but the most conscious, and least expensive gift - is time.
We can give our time, and take time. Giving our time to do something that a friend or family member might want or need - like spending an afternoon cooking, going for a walk in the woods, or helping out around the house, is a useful and intentional gift.
Taking the time to do something is just as amazing, and easy. Depending on what our strengths are - it could mean writing someone a heartfelt letter, baking cookies, painting or drawing something, putting together a playlist or making a body scrub.
Consciously approaching gift-giving involves a little more time for thought, but adds so much more personality to gifts and thoughtfulness to the busy-mess that can be the holiday season.
This Christmas I am giving gifts with a goal of zero-waste, so check back in next week for my post on creating, wrapping and giving without wasting anything but maybe a little time.