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If you have kids, you’re already in Christmas present buying mode. Or maybe you like living on the edge and leaving it to the last minute - bravo!
Either way, most kids are spoiled rotten with presents at Christmas. They’re showered with presents from parents, doting grandparents, aunts and uncles...it’s endless.
Some children genuinely appreciate their gifts. Many are so overwhelmed by the amount of presents they don’t know how to react. They aren’t grateful, more stunned. Then there’s the kids who just want more - they have the longest Santa list and a tantrum prepared if they don’t get it all.
And let’s just compound the issue when thinking about the sheer mountain of stuff you end up having to house after Christmas has been and gone - multiplied by the number of children you have. Where will it all go?
And don’t get us started on the packaging that everything is triple wrapped in. The acres of must-have themed wrapping paper and metres of sticky-tape; plastic decorations; and those tiny crackers from bonbons that disappear only to be stepped on in the middle of the night.
Maybe it’s time to consider a more environmentally friendly, sustainable approach to Christmas.
#1: Move Away From The Plastic Junk
It’s hard, we know. The shops are literally brimming from November onwards, with All The Things your child suddenly has an urgent desire to own. None of it is sustainable, most of it cheap and likely to break in the first 5 minutes.
When you’re looking at presents or stocking fillers, think secondhand. Check out Ebay or Gumtree as people often have toys that are still in their boxes or lightly used. Look for local businesses to support, instead of buying plastic junk that’s been shipped halfway around the world.
And if you’re worried about the relatives going crazy with plastic toys, have a chat with them about your intentions to be more sustainable. It’s dependent on family dynamics as to how that will go down but some thoughts you can pass on:
- Plastic toys break, get lost or aren’t used enough
- The house is overflowing already, we can’t move
- Kids play more with fewer toys to distract them
- It’s not environmentally ok to support these companies.
Arm yourself with a list of suggestions that you know your kids will love. This can include experiences like movie passes, subscription gifts such as special interest magazines, a special outing to the zoo, or a membership to a theatre. While watching children open presents is fun, gifting an experience creates memories that outlast any plastic toy.
#2: Go With The Five Gift Rule
You might’ve heard of the four gift rule but we like to add one more to the mix. The idea is you (or Santa) brings one gift from each of these categories:
- Something they want
- Something they need
- Something to wear
- Something to read
- And something they don’t know they want, but you do!
By receiving a smaller number of gifts, your children will certainly appreciate them more. Choose something they will get a lot of use out of, so look for long lasting materials or long lived entertainment, like quality puzzles or wooden toys. It also means you can spend a little more and get a big ticket item that will be well used (like a bicycle).
Fewer toys mean less clutter and your children are more likely to play with the things they have. Research shows having too many toys is distracting and limits your child’s imagination. Although we’d argue you can never have too many books as a child!
#3: Make Christmas Special For Someone Else
Every year, thousands of children in Australia go giftless at Christmas. Around the world there are children who don’t have access to basic needs like food and water every day.
Giving to those less fortunate than themselves helps children to realise how fortunate they are and teaches them there are things others value much more than the latest game console or Barbie.
Kids can choose the gifts they feel most appropriate. It might be donating wrapping a toy for the giving tree at the local shops or donating to an organisation that helps kids in developing countries to buy books or school lunch every day.
By helping children to be compassionate, they begin to understand the act of giving feels as good (if not better) than receiving.
#4: Stick To A Budget
This seems like a no-brainer but honestly, if you set yourself a budget and stick to it, you can be quite inventive about what you end up buying. This works really well with the five gift rule but you can also get amazing deals on toys if you shop during the year, rather than wait until the last minute.
When your children are little, start making Christmas what you want it to be - about creating fun memories, quality time as a family and enjoying traditions that don’t involve ridiculous amounts of plastic junk you end up taking to the charity shop six months later.
#5: Walk Your Talk
Parents, we need to be the example. We might think fondly of our childhood Christmas surrounded by a sea of wrapping paper and every plastic toy known to humankind, but that excess has gotten our planet into the mess it’s in today.
Now, as parents we spend too much on presents that no one wants or needs, and end up with our rubbish bins full of packaging and decorations we can’t recycle. If we want to teach our children that less is more when it comes to gift giving and leave them with a healthy planet, we need to stop ourselves from the excess indulgence.
If we put a little thought into it, we can have a sustainable and environmentally friendly Christmas. Choose decorations that can be used over and over again. Cards and wrapping paper can be made from last year’s gift giving or you might like to start using fabric bags to wrap presents in.
Artificial trees are hard to recycle so try thinking outside the box and use a branch that has fallen from a native tree or create one on a wall with paper and sticky dots. Live trees can be a better option but check how your council disposes on them after.
So a few tips on how to have a wonderful Christmas without drowning in all the plastic.
If you’re looking for a great stocking filler or a present for a child that is sustainable and useful, why not gift them with a Subo. Click here to go to our store and happy festive season to all.