Written by Saria Eid


This year we find ourselves with a bit more time for Christmas shopping, if less freedom to savour the experience. Alors, would you rather shop on your laptop with a coffee? Or browse through a twinkly buzzing market, mulled wine cup warming your palm nicely? Ah, we miss that jingle-bell vibe.

On the upside, now’s our chance to swerve the pitfalls of last-minute panic buys. Instead we can carefully choose things to tickle and thrill the people we love, and source festive trimmings that tread lightly on the planet. Here’s our petit guide to being less ‘extra’ and more conscious this Christmas.

Gift differently

We’re big fans of the mantra Buy Less, Buy Well – for fashion, food, everything – whatever the time of year. If budgets are tight after 2020’s antics, there’s one easy way to slim down a bulging present list (for a large family, say). If others feel the same, put all your names in a hat, everyone picks one, then buys a thoughtful gift for their chosen person. Parfait!

With many small businesses taking a pounding from the pandemic, going local for Christmas shopping can help ease their struggles. It also means less packaging, less delivery costs, less emissions. Plus, when you buy from local or indie makers, you get the added bonus of a story behind the creation of your gift – which is something special to share as you hand it over.

Experience, not excess

It’s fun to gift someone a really good time. It could be in the shape of a concert ticket, restaurant voucher or, what the hell, a sky-diving lesson. Something to look forward to and remember long afterwards. Do they recall the colour of the socks or the title of the book you gave them last year? Peut-être non.

Personally, we always appreciate slow-food gifts – homemade or locally-sourced – and wellbeing experiences that remind us to stop and look after ourselves.

The gift of green

All that time spent chez nous ignited a glorious green explosion that sent lots of us plant-crazy in 2020. (Oui, we succumbed.) If you know any houseplant fanatics or avid gardeners, treat them to a plant subscription box, garden centre vouchers, a share in a local allotment plot – or some lush greenery for their home. Looks good. Does good. Breathe.

Pretty is as pretty does

When it comes to pretty packaging, we try to track down recycled wrapping and swerve the shiny stuff which can’t be recycled, unlike matt paper. If you’re posting more parcels than you hand over in person, paper packing tape ticks (and seals) the box. Going old-school with twine or string can look so inviting, with a sprinkle of biodegradable eco glitter… (Sparkle responsibly, merci).

If your festive table isn’t complete without crackers, try a reusable set. You avoid a bunch of mixed waste and your guests get quirky, personally chosen tokens. Win-win! Because who really needs another mini plastic yoyo?

Let there be (less) light

Attention, we’re surrounded… Everywhere, tiny twinkles brighten chilly afternoons and fir trees shimmer behind windows. The world is officially mad for fairy lights. This romantic sparkling rash spreads from our festive trees to our hallways, windows, doors, gardens and beyond. Et comme c’est beau!

This glow can come at a cost, on natural resources and electricity bills. Help out by always choosing LED lights, don’t feel obliged to illuminate everything that stands still, and set a timer to switch them off when no-one’s around to gasp ‘Oooh’.

Real trees rock

Who doesn’t love sharp, sweet fir-tree scent infusing the air, even if pine needles in your socks are a pain? The second-best thing about a real Christmas tree is its supreme recyclability – just drag it to a local collection point in the new year. Better still, if you’ve got outdoor space, use a potted tree you can replant. You can even rent one – some lovely people will drop it off then take it away after Père Noël has visited.

So many ways to take a little care and make a big difference this season… And saying all that, we do still enjoy buying actual stuff. We just do our best to gift things that are made to last – like our very own glasses.

Merci, et Joyeux Noël!
PHOTOS: Unknown
WORDS: Eileen MacCallum