I read the other day that 57% of international adults wish they could own less stuff. So why are we buying more, when actually what we want is less? When what we want is a clutter-free Christmas.
Christmas is a time when we become more aware of over consumption and the pressure of finding the perfect present is heaped on us all. But you don’t have to go cold turkey at Christmas and stop buying altogether.
Here are TEN ways to shake up your present buying and reduce the clutter this Christmas.
Set your intentions
Before you spend your first pound ask yourself why it’s important to buy less. Is it a positive financial choice? Are you trying to reduce the burden of clutter on yourself, friends and family? Are you making an environmentally conscious decision to help reduce the impact on the planet? Use the reasons why buying less is important to help you focus on what kind of gift-giver you want to be, and help you create clutter-free Christmas.
Give the gift of time
Hands up who would be delighted if someone offered to babysit the kids, cooked you a selection of meals for the freezer, or completed some chores you’ve been putting off since…well…forever. Me, me, me! Honestly, a simple offer of help can sometimes be much more appreciated than another token present. Consider if the person you’d like to buy for would benefit from some of your time, rather than something else to store and look after.
Gift an experience
Experience gifts are so much better than material possessions. Why? You get the same element of surprise when you receive the gift AND then you get all the yummy anticipation leading up to the experience itself. PLUS you get to enjoy it along with all the heart-warming memories that will last a lifetime. With NO clutter! Subscription based experiences, days out, tickets for events, classes to learn a new hobby and memberships are all great options. Experiences don’t have to cost the earth either, so keep them simple.
Invest in a shared memory
If there are multiple people in your present buying family or group of friends, decide between you that instead of gifts this year you’ll pool money for a shared treat. A day at the races, weekend in a cottage, trip to the zoo, picnic in the local park or a summer BBQ next year are all wonderful options. You’ll get to spend quality time together, rather than passing around yet more tat. That’s got to be more worthwhile, right?
Create a Secret Santa
This is a great idea for large groups of buyers, such as siblings or groups of friends, who are all currently buying individually for one another. Instead of everyone buying something for everyone, create a Secret Santa. Pop all the names in the metaphorical hat, and each of you draw ONE name, so everyone is buying for just one person. Everyone still gets a present, but the stress and cost is massively reduced. Hey presto you’re on your way to a clutter-free Christmas!
Set some gift-giving limits
Maybe it’s simply time to set your own limits towards your goal of a clutter-free Christmas. Either in agreement with those you buy for or simply setting your own boundaries. Agree that you’ll spend no more than a certain amount of money or buy no more than one gift. Maybe you could agree to simply not spend at all.
You may think that you’ll come across as personified Christmas Doom, but you’ll be surprised how relieved everyone is. Finally someone has been brave enough to suggest cutting back on the presents. Phew! Remember, almost two thirds of people actually want to live with less. It’s unlikely they’ll actually want that gift you’re sweating over. Your lack of a physical gift will actually be giving them the gift of not having to go out and buy one either.
Donate in someone’s name
If you want to financially gift in some way, but don’t want to purchase a gift or an experience, you can donate. Ask your loved one if they have a charity close to their heart and gift a donation in their name. Imagine the difference we could make if we all showed our generosity in this way instead of spending out of obligation.
Asking someone to tell us what they want and actually saying ‘buy me X’ doesn’t feel very British, does it? Honestly, if you want to know your money was well spent and the gift well received, just ask what they want. If you can’t afford it, you could give vouchers and they can take advantage of the sales after Christmas.
If you’re the one saying what you want, it’s okay to be precise, create wish lists and share links. You may feel a bit awkward, but ultimately it makes sure that everyone actually gets what they want. You’ll no longer receive presents that you don’t want and will end up sitting in a cupboard for the foreseeable. Moreover, no-one wastes their money either.
Limit the children’s list
Firstly, don’t give your children a toy catalogue and ask them to mark everything they like. If you are overwhelmed by the amount of toys your children already have, imagine how they feel. Boundaries with a generous helping of realism are important at Christmas, so please be honest with the givers to your children. Allow yourself to be totally in control of how much extra comes into your home this year.
Consider telling your children they can only ask for up to three presents. Or use the rhyme ‘something to wear, something to read, something you want and something you need’ to limit what you purchase. You can then add in surprises at your discretion, without setting up the expectation. Santa has lots of presents to make and deliver. He needs to share his Lapland resources equally, you know.
Give the gift of words
Perhaps someone who doesn’t need a gift, an experience, a donation or money would actually simply love a special card or letter from you this year. We all love to receive mail, especially when it’s personally addressed, hand-written and spoken from the heart. So why not put pen to paper and tell someone how much they mean to you by writing a letter to share your news. Go the whole hog and write a love letter to those you care about: it’s Christmas after all!
I don’t think there’s a person out there who has never felt the stress of Christmas gift-giving. Not knowing what to buy or faking the delight of receiving something you don’t really like, doesn’t create Christmas magic. The only way to change this is to start being honest with ourselves and our loved ones about the kind of Christmas we want to have.
Joy, love and the magic of Christmas doesn’t come wrapped in tinsel and bows. It’s time to think outside of the Christmas gift box and choose a clutter-free Christmas.