How is your December to-do list looking so far? If it's as long as mine, you might be feeling a bit overwhelmed and also wondering if you are doing too much. Maybe even extending yourself in directions that don't ring true for you anymore?
I found that I was trying to keep up with certain aspects of the Silly Season that were actually not very important to me. As soon as I scaled back in areas that made me feel better about myself and what I was teaching my kids AND how I was treating the planet, Christmas got a whole lot less overwhelming.
So I wanted to share some pointers that might help you look at things differently and feel more at peace with your decision making, because goodness knows we could all use a bit more peace at this time of year.
Gift Giving For Kids
- If your kids still believe in Santa then I think it should be just one present from Santa. Many kids receive several gifts from Santa and that can be hard on the kids who only get one and then hear from others how they got several gifts from Santa. Regardless of how many pressies you want to gift your kids, addressing one from Santa and the rest from you easily solves that issue. If they used to get more than one from Santa, you can just let them know that a new rule was issued from the North Pole about one present per child because Santa is being more mindful about the planet and the environment and reducing his production. ;)
- We also started a lovely tradition when Christmas shopping for our kids of the 4 gift rule. So they get one from Santa (one that we pick from their letters to Santa) and the 4 from us which follow the rules of:
1. Something you want (pick something else from their letter to Santa or perhaps something you know your child has been wanting).
2. Something you need (new lunchbox or water bottle or beach towel for example).
3. Something to wear (pyjamas, hat, swimmers, rashie, goggles, sunglasses etc).
4. Something to read.
Then you're not overwhelming your kids with too many gifts which will ultimately help with their appreciation levels, not to mention help your wallet and your conscience due to buyer's remorse.
We had a meeting with the kids when we introduced this rule when it came to gifts from us at Christmas time and they actually loved the idea! Plus it's catchy to say which always helps! ;)
- Another great idea for kids' gifts is experiences. So, theme park tickets, movie tickets, museum and art gallery tickets, cooking or art workshops, roller skating, surfing lessons....the list is endless if you think about what your kid is into!
- Making up a booklet of quality time vouchers where each voucher entitles your child with things like one hour of kicking the ball at the park, a movie date with mum or dad, an hour of playing their favourite board game or whatever you can come up with! Don't forget our kids spell LOVE with the letters TIME when it comes to their parents.
- Teaching our kids emotional care early on in the piece is a great gift to give and you can do that easily and gently with some flower essence products. Check out our Calm Kids Pack and our Teenager Pack.
Gift Giving for Adults
- The most important thing to not get caught up in, is the amount of gifts we think we 'should' be buying. I love Secret Santa's for this reason especially in large families so you can all pick one person to buy for and then you'll only be giving and receiving one quality gift. Set a price that everyone has to stick to.
- Make gifts when you can! Nothing's as cool as a homemade body scrub, sweet or savoury treats, knitted scarf, a piece of art or anything you have a talent with!
- Experiences are also awesome to gift adults. Painting classes, macramé workshops, resin jewellery making workshops, surfing lessons, brewery or winery tours....again the list is endless if you google experiences in their area.
- Shop small and local! The saying is true: every time you purchase from a small business or market stall, someone does a little happy dance! It's also better for our economy as well as the planet as it's less distance for your gift to travel.
- Gifts for teachers come up a lot at this time too and instead of getting them the usual choccies/wine or photo frame, why not gift something unique and special like our beautiful new flower essence room mists that have so many teachers already raving already! These mists clear past energy of the room (great for classrooms!) as well as add a beautiful new energy vibration and make it smell heavenly. Focus, Protect and Slow Down Room Mists have been the most popular for teacher gifts! Check them out HERE
Gifts For Your Partner and Yourself
- My husband and I stopped doing gifts for each other a while back now and instead we go to dinner, see a concert or have a night away. So we gift each other with our time doing something we both love. This year it's a Paul Kelly concert in our home town of Brisbane followed by a night in a hotel nearby while my mum has a night at our house enjoying time with our kids!
- I believe an important person to honour is often forgotten at this time of year and that is ourselves! Especially my mum friends who tell me that they feel a little forlorn on Christmas Day when they are the only one not unwrapping a pressie. Why not gift yourself some emotional care gifts and even wrap them up for under the tree! Even it's from yourself, it's still a gift from the most amazing person in the room don't you think!? ;) Emotional support gifts like a massage voucher, a meditation class voucher or some Naughty Naturopath Mum products like our Note To Self Affirmation cards, Looking After Yourself Pack, Relationship Pack, Protect Pack, Like A Boss Pack, Complete Chakra Pack and our new Christmas Pack all make beautiful gifts!
Spreading the Love
I also love the gift of teaching our kids kindness and giving by getting them involved in things to help those who are in need especially at this time of year. So some ideas of doing this are:
- Engaging your family in sponsoring a child or organisation. Some of the kids' pocket money or part time job money (when they are old enough to earn!) can go towards this sponsoring as well as the adults' pay packets! We sponsor through World Vision and Kiva but there are many out there to look into!
- Donate to or shop for organisations like Mission Australia, The Salvation Army, St Vincent De Paul. Drop off groceries and clothes at the many outlets around our shopping centres these days. Shops like Target and K-Mart also have Giving Trees where you can purchase a present for a child who might not be getting anything for Christmas and they donate it to families in need. This is a lovely activity to involve your kids in too. I also love the In the Bag Christmas Drive that Share The Dignity runs every year. So please check that out if filling a bag of toiletries and necessities for women in need sounds like a good idea to you!
- Another direction for giving back is environmental avenues like adopting a tree or planting trees (these make great gifts for nature lovers!) through organisations like WWF, Plant A Tree, One Tree Planted, Drought and Bushfire Relief for our Farmers and bushfire affected areas like Rural Aid, Drought Angels, WWF, Red Cross. You can purchase a copy of this beautiful book called Farmer - The Cookbook for yourself and others which contains recipes by farmers. Proceeds go towards helping out our farmers who are doing it so tough right now.
- Think about volunteer work at homeless shelters, Meals On Wheels and soup kitchens which is such a nice way to give back and get personally involved in your local community. Volunteering or donations to OzHarvest is another great way to get more people in need fed!
Just to help buy less wrapping paper and gift cards, think about wrapping presents in old magazine pages or newspapers or even recycled wrapping paper from birthday gifts. Use beautiful tea towels (which is an added gift!) or scraps of material and ribbon you have lying around, your kids' artwork (that might just end up in recycling anyway!). Not only does cutting down on what needs to be wrapped, but how we wrap it all helps too!
Write names on pressies with permanent marker or make gift tags out of kids artwork or recycle any bits of old cardboard you have lying around. Tie it on with some jute string or twine. I think a rustic looking wrapped gift is way more on trend these days anyway! ;)
We proudly have our whole tree decorated with decorations bought in a garage sale back when we first started doing a tree (years and years ago!) as well as the things our kids have made over the last 6 years at daycare and then school.
It's definitely not a tree that would grace the cover of Vogue magazine but it's ours and it's loved and I feel so proud that it sustains itself year after year without us needing to buy anything. Any further decorations in our house is generally Christmas artwork done by our kids that we blu-tac up on the walls and keep for the following years so this keeps growing! So again, very rustic decorating, but I love that it's less stuff we need to purchase.
Some sustainable tree ideas are using pot plants and trees already at your home (just wrap a few solar powered or re-usable battery powered lights around it!). I love the wooden trees that can be used year after year. Pinterest has a tonne of ideas to look at!
Making your own Christmas Wreath to hang on your door is another lovely project that doesn't have to be another thing to pay for! You can get creative with twigs and sticks and weave in some flowers or greenery from your garden or buy a twine wreath and add succulents or dried flowers for something that can be re-used and re-created year after year.
Here's a wreath we made with dried Aussie bush flowers for the office last year!
I know travel might not be happening this year for you due to Covid but if you are lucky enough to be able to visit relatives and loved ones this year:
- Always carry refillable water bottles with you
- Offset your carbon emissions especially when purchasing flights by paying those few dollars extra
- Catch public transport as much as possible
- Pack less! We always seem to pack more than we really need and luggage in cars and on flights all adds up as extra weight and carbon emissions to offset. Packing lighter is more freeing too as less decisions to make about what you wear each day! ;)
Rather than buy one of the hundreds of different types of advent calendars out there these days, why not create a reverse advent calendar! Have basket or box set aside and every day for the month of December, add something useful for someone in need into the box. It could be toothbrushes, hairbrushes, mini sewing kits, shampoo/conditioner, food and drink items etc. and then donate this 'advent calendar' to a family or household in need or drop off somewhere like the Salvation Army.
For Kids Who Start to Question whether Santa is Real
My kids are still believers in Santa as they are only 7 and 9 so we still have lots of fun with our Elf on the Shelf all December, letters written to Santa and massive excitement about leaving out the drink and snack for Santa as well as carrots for the reindeer on Christmas Eve. But I know these traditions may very soon end in our house and I am so glad I came across this article for when it does.
It's a great explanation on how to keep the magic going on a different level for our older kids and also a wonderful way to answer any kids asking whether you have lied to them all those years. So yes, the hard work of how to handle the transition of your child from believing in Santa to not believing anymore, has been done for you and you can read that HERE.
I hope these tips have helped you feel like you can make this time of year more mindful for yourself, the planet and humankind and hopefully less overwhelming for your wallet and headspace! If you'd like some more tips on food and drink as well as being more mindful about how you treat your mind and body, I've also written a couple more blogs for this time of year that you might like to read:
Surviving The Silly Season which has loads of emotional care tips and
Tips for a Healthier Christmas and New Year for more physical health tips at this time of year
This end of year period should be a time of joy and we don't need to feel more pressure to keep up with the Jones' or have our Christmases looking like they belong in a magazine! Being more mindful and maybe doing things a little differently and creating new traditions is a very empowering process and one that you will be so grateful to have done in years to come.
Saying 'No' to more and making decisions based on less, means less pressure on you and less stress on the planet so a real win/win I say!
Yours in Health,