Monday 14 January 2019

My Journey to Less Waste #6 - Christmas Gifting

Hi there everyone 😀

Whilst this post may seem a little late to be useful there are obvious reasons why I've had to wait until now to share it with you. Hopefully it may give inspiration for other gifting occasions throughout the year ... or you could always pop back before starting your 2019 Christmas shopping 😀

Before we started our less waste journey I’d already decided that I was doing Christmas gifting a bit different this year. It had gotten a bit like we were all just giving each other shopping lists for what we wanted, taking away the element of thought and surprise. 

To be fair this habit had been borne out of trying to make sure that we didn’t all buy each other stuff that was quickly discarded and not really wanted, but it was just starting to not feel that nice.

Of course, when going off piste there is always the danger of getting it very wrong but I decided I wanted to risk it this year and see how it went.

We’d also been talking with a number of friends and had decided to cut down on the list of people that we buy for. So instead of buying gifts for some friends we decided we would spend spend time together instead ... on a nice meal out over the Christmas period, which we all really enjoyed.

Since starting our journey I came across this infographic on Facebook. I'm afraid I can't remember where I found it or who shared it so am unable to give credit, but it really resonated and did form the basis of some of our shopping.

I thought it might be interesting to just share with you some of the gifts that we bought this year so here we go ...

Bobby - Nephew - Age 2
The difficulty when buying for this little man is just not to go totally crazy as I kept seeing things everywhere that I knew he would love. I also knew that lots of other people would be thinking exactly the same so tried to keep it sensible as he's only 2, he's got loads of stuff already and it can be a bit overwhelming ...

I ended up restricting myself to just four gifts, starting with this Little Town 12 piece grocery set which I bought from Aldi. It came with baked beans, ketchup, yoghurt, cornflakes, butter, cheese, milk, ham, teabags, biscuits, jam and orange juice. He had a kitchen for his birthday and I just knew he would love these extra store cupboard provisions.
It came in a lovely sturdy cardboard box and all the provisions were individually wrapped in white tissue paper, so that was a massive less plastic win on the packaging front ...
David sent me some pictures of him after he'd opened them and I think it's safe to say that he quite likes them ...
My second gift for Bobby also came from Aldi ... you really can't beat them for children's toys. This time a (mainly) wooden percussion set. It wasn't totally plastic free and there was some plastic packaging, but I bought this before we started really thinking about trying to reduce our waste.
Hopefully the little man will have lots of fun making lots of noise ... sorry mum and dad 😏

My third gift for the little man was a matching pairs set that I made myself. I am so pleased with how this has turned out and hope it will last him for a good few years. He's probably a bit young to be playing the game properly but I am sure he will have fun finding the matching patterns.

We managed to find a cheap wooden box on the market which we decorated with some robots cut from some wrapping paper and Martin made me some dividers so we can keep the squares all nice and tidy. A couple of coats of yacht varnish and a few Scrabble letters and we were all done.
My last gift for the little man was one of the very few gifts that I bought from Amazon this year ... I have to say I was quite impressed with the packaging for these Welkom wooden stacking robots ... no plastic in sight at all. Just nine wooden painted robots in a wooden box, delivered in a cardboard envelope.
Again he might be a bit little for stacking them but I know he will love the colours, counting them and lining them all up.
I managed to find some fab robot fabric and made him a little drawstring bag which will be perfect for keeping them all together when out and about.

David and Alison - brother and girlfriend - 30 somethings
I really wanted to find experiences that would go down well for David & Alison and we managed to find a nice local bistro that did vouchers, where they can go either for breakfast, lunch or an afternoon tea. They can take the little man and have a walk round the lake and a sit in the sunshine while enjoying a bit of a treat ...
We also got them tickets to the Giant Miniature Weekend at the Statfold Barn Railway later in the year. With trains, trams and lots to see it’s a fab family day out.
And ... I just have to tell you this. This is the poster they are using to advertise the event on Facebook and the top two photographs are ones that we took when we visited last year. I was pretty excited when they messaged me to ask if I would mind them using them 😮😮😮

We also bought them a few little bits ...

A hemp and bamboo body scrub glove from TKMaxx for David and some of his favourite posh shower gel ... in recyclable aerosals ...
... and a Wrendale diary and a nice room spray for Alison. All useable and then recyclable ...

Sarah and Mark - sister and boyfriend - 50 somethings
This one was a bit of a gamble. Vouchers for a meal and a cinema viewing at a small local cinema. Somewhere we had mentioned going some time ago but never got round to it, so I was really hoping they would enjoy the treat.
I was delighted when my sister opened it and said it was somewhere she'd always wanted to go.

Mum and Dad - 70 somethings
Afternoon tea vouchers for a nice place they’ve never been. It’s on the way to the hospital, which they seem to visit quite a lot so should be easily accessible.
There are also a few little shops and a marina to have a look around so they may be able to make an afternoon of it.

We also got them tickets to the Giant Miniature Weekend at the Statfold Barn Railway, so hopefully it will be a really nice family day out.

I also got mum a wooden hanging heart for the garden. We have one like this and she’s admired it a few times, so when I saw this one I just had to get it. She loves her garden and I knew she would love it and have no trouble finding a spot for it to hang from.
And dad had a bottle of gin ... enough said!

Lesley and Tom - very good friends - 50 & 60 somethings
Afternoon tea vouchers for a lovely little place in town, though they could be used breakfast if preferred and a new oven mitt to match their new kitchen. I was going to make one but just didn’t have the will ... sorry guys ...
I also bought this for Lesley and I’m kind of a bit embarrassed to share this picture as it has to be the biggest less waste and less plastic fail ever. I did buy it before we’d started to be more aware of what we were buying and I won’t be buying jokey presents like this again. I can only hope that it does get used and experiences some sunny holidays before being discarded as a novelty.

Jess and Lauren - Lesley and Tom's girls - 20 somethings
I opted for Boots gift vouchers for the girls. I know the gift cards are plastic and the girls will probably buy something that is not that environmentally friendly ... though you never know. I just wanted them to have something that would be useful and not discarded quickly as being just a gimmicky present.

Rachel and Tom - Goddaughter and boyfriend - 30 somethings
Rachel had also admired the hanging heart we had in the garden when round for a summer BBQ and I’d already bought this one for her before we agreed on a no gift Christmas. They have not long bought their first home together and I just know they will find a good home for this.

Chris and Jenny - 30 somethings
Our good friends Jackie and Phil's eldest and his wife. They all came round for a BBQ in the summer and Jenny admired my tea light holders and I found some more exactly the same which I bought way before we’d decided on a no present Christmas so they will still be wrapped up for them both.

Hannah and Megan - 20 and 16
Jo and Steve’s daughters ... we decided not to buy for each other but I still wanted to get something for the girls.

A while back Hannah had commented on a Facebook post about the scourge of single use coffee cups and funnily enough Megan did too more recently. It was easy to choose reusable coffee cups as gifts for these two, especially when there was a mermaid option as Hannah loves all things mermaid. I only hope Meg is as fond as unicorns, but I don’t think you ever get too old for unicorns.
I also decided to pop in a shampoo bar for them to just have a try with, though both with lots of lovely long hair I’m not sure how they will get in but at least they can say that they tried.
This has really made me smile today. Whilst writing this post I have just received a Whatsapp message and photo from Hannah ...

Martin - The Hubster
We were very reserved on our exchanging of gifts this year. I bought Martin a pair of badly needed new slippers and some undies and he bought me The Little Book of Hygge, which I have been after for ages and a refraction ball for taking photos through, which I am really looking forward to having a play with.

When it came to wrapping, apart from the robot wrap for Bobbys gifts, I didn’t buy anything. I had a stash of wrapping paper which will last for a good few years yet, plenty of tissue paper I’d saved from gifts I’d been given in previous years and a drawer full of gift and bottle bags that I always save ... can’t remember the last time I bought one of those.
When it came to gift tags Bobby's was a Scrabble Christmas decoration I made which can be hung on the tree once he’s unwrapped his pressies.

The others are either from my stash or made from last year’s Christmas cards.

I do have loads of foil ribbon and bows still left in my wrapping stash, but decided against using them this year, so they can all just sit there for a while longer.

It was really interesting looking at this year’s wrapping compared to that of 2015 ...
I fair shocked myself with that comparison I can tell you.

So, as a first Christmas on our journey to less waste how did we do? I know we weren't perfect, but overall I am quite pleased with how we did ... after all it is a journey. We did buy less gifts, I definitely bought less from Amazon and supported lots more independent traders. We definitely bought more experiences than stuff and there was a bit of hand made in there. And ... I wasn't expecting this, but it was quite a painless experience for me from a shopping point of view.

Most pleasing of all was that everything was well received, even though we'd gambled on pretty much everything.

I'm definitely going to be trying to keep on with giving experiences as gifts and my first birthday gift purchased this year has been vouchers for a local beauty salon.

I know there is lots more we could do but for my journey at this time, I'm quite happy 😀



  1. Well impressed. You did so well xx

    1. Thanks Deb. I found it a much more pleasurable shopping experience too which was a great bonus. 😃


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