For many, Christmas is a great time to soak up some sunshine, unwind and spend time with loved ones. Unfortunately, it’s also often a time of financial stress and excessive waste. With extreme weather events causing distress across the globe, and soaring cost of living pressures, the strain on the planet and its people is greater than ever this year.
It’s easy (and understandable!) to let financial stress cloud your judgement when the festive season rolls around, particularly in a year of skyrocketing inflation, but we’re here to tell you that you don’t need to compromise on your values - that is ethical and sustainable festivities - to keep costs down this Christmas.
Here are our top tips to help you save some money while still contributing to a healthier environment and better world.
1. Organise a KK
In 2019, Australians spent an estimated $980 million on wasted presents. With disastrous impacts on the environment and bank accounts, it’s time we normalise giving and receiving fewer gifts. Instead of shopping for every one of your colleagues, family members or friends, why not organise a KK within any groups you need to buy for? Randomly select a receiver for each giver, set a spending limit, then importantly, ask around for what that person may want. There is also no shame in asking the person for ideas directly. It takes the pressure off you and ensures they get something they’ll actually use. Less money, less time, less pressure and less waste = no brainer!
2. Shop small with local businesses
Once you’ve got a list of people you need to buy for, set a budget and start your gift hunt. Hopefully you’ll have some specific ideas from asking around (or asking them directly) but if not there are an abundance of local businesses where you can find meaningful and environmentally friendly gifts at affordable prices. We love plastic-free consumables like preserves, soaps, local gin flights or some seeds to grow herbs at home. Even better are experiences like a cheese and wine flight, Indigenous adventures, a restaurant voucher or some tickets to the moonlight cinema! And for the gold star of gift giving, consider having some trees planted on behalf of your loved ones.
You can check out our Affordable Ethical Gift Guide for even more ideas!
3. Get creative with gifts
To be extra kind to your wallet and the planet, consider buying second hand, regifting or making this year’s pressies. As the saying goes, one person’s trash is another’s treasure! You can find some absolute gems at bargain prices in op shops around town, which means you’re not only diverting landfill but usually helping out a good cause too. Received some homewares or merchandise that have been stuffed in a cupboard ever since? Perhaps someone on your list might make better use of them than you. Or if you want to knock all your gifts out in one go there are endless recipes online for special Christmas treats that are thoughtful, made with love and most importantly, delicious! Check out these great edible gifts for inspiration.
4. Use a potted tree
If a tree is a must in your household, did you know you can buy live potted Christmas trees that can persevere for years? Just like a real Christmas tree, this mini version gives off delightful piney scents in your home and will completely break down at the end of its life unlike its plastic counterparts. The initial investment of around $100 should see you through many Christmases if cared for appropriately and repotted when necessary. An even better option is to dress up an existing household plant with some eco-friendly decorations made from paper/plants or sourced second hand at the op shop.
5. Use nature’s decorations
You don’t have to spend a cent to create a beautiful table setting with elements from mother nature. Start by thinking about what you can use from your garden or around the home. Perhaps you have some dried flowers on display, or some fresh blooms in your backyard. If you have a live Christmas tree, you might chop off a couple of branches. You can also head to a local park to forage for fallen leaves and branches. If you get lucky you might spot a pesky cotoneaster tree, whose berries and branches are a great alternative to mistletoe.
6. Wrap creatively
Wrapping paper is an extremely wasteful product that is easily avoided by getting crafty with what already exists. Not to mention, a lot of it can’t actually be recycled, so paper that features foil, glitter or plastic is destined to go to landfill alongside all the other Christmas excess. It’s simple to boycott wrapping paper by using things you have around the house like old gift bags, tissue paper or boxes from online shopping, or even pieces of material you no longer need. You can even add some twine or fallen leaves to jazz up your wraps! If you want to be really savvy, start saving up papers and strings during the year from birthday gifts, flower bunches or even Who Gives A Crap toilet paper wrappers to use creatively.
7. Make your own cards
When you’re dropping over $5 on a card, the cost can really add up! One way to avoid buying cards is by making your own - and it’s far easier than you may think. Old Christmas cards can be cut up to make gift tags for presents, so let the little ones go nuts with some zig zag scissors. Another fun idea for the family is to cut Christmas tree shapes out of used cardboard (think shopping or packaging boxes) and decorate accordingly with textas or coloured paper. Or, if you need more space to write and want to get really creative, you can design your own cards from scratch on paper or cardboard for a lovely personalised touch. If you don’t have kids around to assist, bring out your own inner child and go for it!
8. Feast seasonally
With an abundance of produce available from supermarkets and markets around town, it’s easy to forget what’s seasonal to your area and what has to be shipped in from elsewhere. Seasonal produce is nearly always cheaper to purchase given it’s grown locally and has far less transit costs associated. For these reasons it’s also much fresher! If you’re in Victoria over summer (although sometimes we’d hardly call it summer!), shop for seasonal fruit like cherries, berries, peaches and plums, and vegetables like zucchini, rhubarb, tomatoes and corn. This seasonal produce guide can assist in planning your festive recipes in line with the seasons, no matter which state you reside in, by selecting your location in the top bar.
9. Opt for cheaper end of year parties
With December comes an influx of get togethers with family, friends and colleagues. All of which can add up! Instead of eating or drinking out, look for more cost effective options like a picnic, pot luck dinner at someone’s house or a BYO activity like Go Boat or Champainting. Not only will you have a truckload of fun, you’re guaranteed to be in the good books of those people (and there will likely be many!) feeling the pinch this Christmas.
Ultimately, this festive season we encourage you to remember the true meaning of Christmas - spending quality time with your loved ones. We hope these suggestions not only help take the pressure off you financially, but assist in making decisions that are kinder to our planet. Here’s to a happy and healthy festive season for all!