In need of a bit of meaningful inspiration?
Christmas is a difficult time for many people. There is an immense amount of pressure, particularly financially, and for many it can be lonely or invoke complicated emotions. This is a whole conversation in itself, but I wanted to mention it here as it is something which I feel is often overshadowed by the glitter and tinsel of the season. I’ve also feel like there is a wide-spread and perpetual sense of one-upmanship, which in all reality couldn’t actually be further from the true meaning of the holiday – and the only people benefitting from this are the huge corporations who have managed to craftily (or not-so craftily, in some cases) convince us that what they are selling is absolutely essential to our Christmas experience.
You may have seen me chattering on about sustainability and thoughtful consumerism before, as I’m becoming increasingly more aware of the impact that my family and I are having on our planet. I love to give gifts and I think it would be naive to think I can omit this aspect of Christmas, so what I am doing is practicing – and encouraging – more thoughtful gift giving, as well as restraint. I’m doing this by paying closer attention to the who, what, and where of the items which I purchase (something which, incidentally, isn’t reserved exclusively for Christmas gift-giving), as well as whether or not I’m buying something simply to have a tangible item to give. Significantly, we’re also limiting the volume of gifts that the girls get, and asking family members to choose one special item rather than many little gifts.
I’ve created a list of some ideas that are either eco, local (to Somerset, at least), independent, or uniquely experiential – and many of the makers behind these goodies are wonderful people whom I happen to know personally! If you aren’t UK based than use these as a jumping off point to finding local crafters/makers in your own area.
The items featured in the image above are from (clockwise): Sleepy Doe, a british sleepwear brand which uses organic materials and ensures that the methods of manufacturing are ethical, sustainable and made in the UK; Happy Self Journal, a journal which is targeted towards children aged 6-12 which encourages the expression of gratitude, as well as reflection, to promote happiness and support the development of healthy life-long habits; Lobella Loves‘ Wonder Women Flash Cards, educational and inspirational, these flash cards help boys and girls challenge female stereotypes and celebrate extraordinary women; Plan Toys‘ Victorian Dolls House, it’s beautiful and durably created, and designed to allow children the freedom to play and be closer to nature (+ it is consciously crafted utilising the “sustainable way” which uses reclaimed rubber woods and minimises environmental impacts); Bravery Mag, which features female role models and empowers kids to dream, do and become their own kind of brave; and lastly, T-Lab creates beautiful hand crafted wooden animals out of albizia, a light and soft, sustainable wood. They also take care to replant the wood they use on their farm in Indonesia.
When I began putting together this list I did it with the intention of sharing with you some of the wonderful makers and thoughtful toys available that I already knew of and loved, as well as searching for new items which had a mission or story which I could really get behind. For example, Lobella Loves is a mom-owned (support other women!) online marketplace that works really hard to break the taboo surrounding mental health. They donate a percentage of every single sale to Cocoon Family Support, which is a charity supporting families suffering with perinatal mental health issues.
In case any of the items or companies I’ve mentioned above don’t quite fit the bill for whatever reason, some other meaningful suggestions are: experiential gifts (trips, day’s out, lessons), things which are homemade (doll clothes, little wooden toys), things which are bought from or created by independently owned businesses (I particularly like supporting mom-owned business, check out www.themothermaker.com), educational kits and craft supplies. Think about how what you are buying is impacting the environment. Is it supporting an identifiable human being or is it filling corporate coffers? What kind of message is it sending to the recipient? Does the company or maker give back to the community in any way?
Remember, the point of Christmas isn’t to needlessly and endlessly consume. Spend time with your loved ones, relax, eat good food, and create memories – but if you are going to give gifts, I encourage you to think twice about your choices and to make an effort to spend your money in ways which speak your values.
Keep your eyes peeled for the grown-ups’s guide, too. It’s coming really soon!
Happy Christmas to you all!! xx
*Not an ad, just a concept that I feel pretty passionately about.