The festive season has evolved into a celebration of consumerism.
Christmas day will see many children opening an overwhelming number of gifts. Excessive gift-giving comes at a cost - for our hip-pockets, the environment, and our children. I am sure many children would prefer more of our presence, rather than more presents.
When it comes to gift-giving, less is more.
This Christmas we’ll continue our tradition of giving our daughter only two gifts - one from us and one from Santa. Knowing she only gets two gifts, she slowly and thoughtfully writes her wish list and truly values what she receives. Rather than depriving her, I believe that we are helping her appreciate what she has and teaching her the value of wanting less. I hope that by wanting less, she will always feel like her desires are within reach.
Our household is trying to fight against the commercialisation of Christmas and downplay the tradition of gift-giving - but without being scrooges.
One solution is to be more generous with our presence, rather than our presents. We've embraced traditions that help us connect instead of consume.
New traditions fill the gap left when we take away the emphasis on gift-giving.
My favourite festive season tradition is our creative countdown to Christmas.
Each stone or leaf is numbered and corresponds to a chosen creative activity.
We choose quick nature play or craft activities that we can do as a family. For example, last year together we created nature crowns, corn husk owls, owls from toilet rolls, and a native bee hotel from recycled materials.
We steer clear from activities that require us to buy anything and instead use natural and recycled materials. We make use of what we already have.
This year Little Eco asked that the activities have a wild craft theme. That’s my girl! So we’ll be learning how to build a shelter, weave a basket, navigate, and bandage a snake bite.
Each year, at the start of our creative countdown, I struggle to set aside the time to create.
But I persist. I make it a priority. I set aside an hour each afternoon for us to create together. We chat, connect and create. We focus more on the process than the outcome and have a lot of fun.
I notice the effect of setting aside time to create together almost immediately. Little Eco stops asking for TV and we all become more confident in our creativity.
We roll into Christmas more connected and creative.
Do you want to give less this Christmas?
I'm guessing I'm not the only person contemplating giving less this Christmas. Be it for environmental, wellbeing or financial reasons.
Be creative - find or create a new tradition.
Think about what you truly enjoy doing as a family – and do more of that.
It’s easy to buy more presents – making time to give presence is more challenging – but so much more valuable.
Originally published in the Newcastle Herald Monday 24th November 2014.
I've enjoyed a few other posts on a similar theme in the last few days. Brydie shared her Gift Tree on the Milkwood blog and I especially love the Permaculture Advent-ure the Owlets are embarking on.
Wishing you a creative (rather than consuming) festive season.