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5 Tips for a Responsible Christmas

I know it’s only October, and I’m sure that like me, you’re rolling your eyes at the store shelves festooned with holly, lights, and garland.

Though I think it’s way too early to be buying Christmas decorations, I don’t think it’s too early to be thinking about Christmas, especially if you want to celebrate it responsibly.

Responsibly? Yup. I think you can have a delightful Christmas while still being environmentally responsible, fiscally responsible, and socially responsible.

1. Save up some money.

January is the best time to start this, but hey, October is better than never. Can you eat from your pantry and save some of your grocery money? Make a pizza instead of ordering one? Borrow a movie from the library instead of visiting the movie theater? (you won’t even be tempted to sneak candy in if you watch at home!) Sell some clutter? Pick up a small bit of side work? Sign up for Swagbucks and earn some Amazon moola?

Start up an ING savings account earmarked for Christmas saving, and sock the money away there. It’ll be available when you need it, but just inaccessible enough to make it easy to leave it alone. And after this Christmas passes, set up a automated contribution to that account every month (even $20/month will give you $240 after a year).

2. Talk to your extended family about paring down.

In an economy like this, your extended family might actually be relieved to cut back. Consider doing a name-drawing exchange, where all the adults draw a name and give a gift only to that person. Or suggest doing kids-only gift exchanges.

The fewer people you have to buy for, the more thought and effort you can put into the gifts you buy, and I think that makes things way more fun!

3. Buy from businesses that you can feel comfortable supporting.

You probably don’t feel great buying nothing but cheaply made products imported from China, and cheaply made products from China aren’t ultimately going to bless your recipients all that much (they’ll likely wear out and break in short order.)

Responsibly made products do usually cost more, but if you’ve pared down your gift list some, you might be able to spend a bit more on each present.

Remember Novica, the company that partners with artisans around the world? I think they’re a great place to shop for gifts, and I just noticed that until midnight PDT today, they’re offering free shipping on almost all of their jewelry (note to self: hurry and order earrings for Lisey!). In addition, you can use the coupon code NOVICAEX3 to save $10/$40 purchase.

Or consider buying a shirt for someone from Dandelion Dreams, and help support the adoption of a little girl from the Congo.

Give someone responsibly-produced coffee. Check out what Ten Thousand Villages has to offer. Buy environmentally responsible, organic gifts. Even if you can’t shop at these types of places for all your gifts, buy one or two responsibly-produced gifts. Something is better than nothing!

Oh, and I can’t finish #3 up without mentioning that thrift stores are socially, evironmentally, AND fiscally responsible places to shop. So, don’t rule them out. 🙂

(Zoe, for one, doesn’t mind getting second-hand gifts! And neither does Sonia.)

4. Make some gifts.

You don’t have to make fancy, time-consuming gifts for everyone on your lists, but maybe you can make some simple gifts for at least a few people. Homemade gifts are usually frugal and environmentally responsible, so if you can find the time, they’re a win-win!

Need some inspiration? Check out my 5 homemade gift ideas. I’ve made some fun scrapbooks as gifts before too. And here are some of our homemade/thrifted gifts from last Christmas.

Also, my ebook, Reuse, Refresh, Repurpose has a number of ideas in it that can be used as Christmas gifts.

It’s only $3.99, so even if you only use one idea for Christmas, it’ll pay for itself! And all the ideas in my book reuse or repurpose old clothes, so they’re fiscally and environmentally responsible. Plus, this book will help you to responsibly use your old clothes throughout the year, not just at Christmas.

5. Spend less and give more.

The Advent Conspiracy covers this idea really well, so go check them out!

If you’re feeling the urge to have a less consumery, less selfish Christmas, pare down your gift list, cut back your Christmas budget, and use the saved money to bless someone who doesn’t have clean water or food to eat. Living Water is a favorite charity of mine, and Heifer is pretty awesome too.


What would you add to the list? How do you celebrate responsibly?


Today’s 365 post: At dinner last night, we were talking about the 80s.

Joshua’s 365 post: Music

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Tuesday 24th of July 2012

I know this is an old post (and I'm commenting in July) but...

There's definitely some good information here! I especially love 3 and 5. However, I have to disagree with your non-tip comment about October being too early to buy Christmas decorations. You may feel it's too early to actually decorate, but shops put decorations out at the lowest price you'll get between whenever they rear their glitter encrusted heads and the after-Christmas sale. The prices are going to steadily increase until they start putting them on the 2-days-til-Christmas "sale" - which will still be more expensive than they were to begin with! If you're trying to save money, buy early and stash them in a box in the closet. You don't HAVE to put them out the moment you buy them.


Saturday 8th of October 2011

These are great tips! I especially like #4. In the past I've been hesitant to make gifts for people, because I thought they may not appreciate something homemade as much as store-bought, but then I realized it that I love it when my sister-in-law gives me a basket full of homemade jams and scones and other edible things at Christmas, so people I know would probably love it too.

This is my first year saving up for Christmas each month. My husband and I don't spend much at Christmas ($300 maybe?), so we only have to save $25 a month. It's not a huge burden on our monthly budget to tuck away an extra $25, and now we don't have to spend this Christmas scrambling around trying to find an extra $300 in our December budget.


Friday 7th of October 2011

Over the past several years I have been working on getting to a "free" Christmas by creating with the stash I have collected. And I have bought from a local winter farmers' market and the library booksales (although someone was astonished that I would give a used item). My SIL works at a thrift shop and we always anticipate what we might received from second-hand Rose (and I have some nice, where-did-you-get-that items from her. Last year we started pizza and movie night. Advent is suppose to be the preparation to Christmas, which follows. To me we rush around for that time period and then stop at Dec. 25.


Friday 7th of October 2011

Samaritan's Purse is also a great place to give gifts of charity. You can purchase anything from clothes to water to chickens for those in need and do it in honor of someone. This is what I will be doing for my in laws this year. They have asked we not buy them stuff for Christmas so I thought this would be a good way to honor them.


Friday 7th of October 2011

May I add about the coffee gift. One idea is to buy a reusable insulated mug, and some good coffee. Make a gift voucher for the recipient as 'coffee to go' for a month - something along those lines - a little thought goes a long way!

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