Recently, my mum sent me a very interesting article on the effect of Christmas on the environment. I think we are all aware of how much impact Christmas has on the environment. However, we still seem to buy lots of unnecessary bits and pieces for the sake of being festive.
If you read the article, it cites different examples of the cheesy and tacky gifts we all typically receive at Christmas. These are usually the result of a Secret Santa at work, or a present from a relative who doesn’t really know us very well. A while ago my family decided that we would only exchange consumable and useful gifts, such as toiletries, books, clothing, food or experiences.
This meant we were receiving something that we may typically buy anyway, so it will get used and loved, rather than sit gathering dust. I really enjoy this method of gift giving as it seems much more intentional. This type of gift giving may be difficult if you have children, especially if they are interacting with peers who are receiving a lot of gifts from their families.
In some countries, such as Switzerland, children only receive one present at Christmas from parents. Often times in Hong Kong, older children receive “lucky money” in place of presents which I find practical, especially for teenagers. Alternatively, you can make something for your child, a wooden toy, a knitted hat and scarf, or a photo album scrap books.
That’s not to say you shouldn’t buy gifts. I saw one Instagrammer buying a “Hot Wheels” toy second hand because it saved the family over a hundred US dollars, as well as reducing the impact on the environment by creating a new toy. This is a great way to save and reduce waste.
This year, I will be giving consumable gifts as usual. I have some obligations to buy gifts in Hong Kong for friends and colleagues. Generally, the culture here is very set against second hand or home made items, often being labelled as “cheap”. However, there are some changes happening thanks to movements such as “Go Green” and “The Really Really Free Market”.
As a result I will most likely purchase new gifts, such as a box of biscuits for my colleagues, as the tin can be reused or recycled. This is a good way to give gifts and reduce the impact on the environment. It also ensures that the gift will be used.
The best thing you can give someone is the gift of your time. Remember that.
I hope you enjoyed reading this post. If you have any ideas for free or frugal gift ideas, please leave them below.
Thanks for reading!