I’ve been thinking about how to shop for Christmas gifts (and food and decorations) in a way that doesn’t thoughtlessly capitulate to the wild commercialisation of Christmas but likewise doesn’t leave my friends and family empty handed. Here, though they are not revolutionary, are some thoughts I’ve come up with:

  1. I plan to buy gifts from industries and retailers I want to support. For me this means:
    1. Books, bought in bookshops and, where possible, from living authors.
    2. DVDs or Blu-ray disks of film (or tv) projects I admire. Or movie vouchers. If I could afford it I’d love to give ballet or theatre or opera subscriptions too.
    3. Buying from fairtrade shops
    4. Buying from craft markets or from creative friends.
    5. Shopping as locally as possible
    6. Sourcing any food-based gifts from sustainable, organic suppliers.
  2. My family has a tradition of making one of our gifts and I derive a great deal of my pleasure from planning and executing this gift. I sometimes make something for friends as well. One of the advantages of this is that I’m much less likely to be lured into the shops in order to derive a sense of my own Christmas benevolence.
  3. In a similar vein: Christmas baking is a way to get into the spirit of things without needing to visit the shops (except for ingredients perhaps). I team up with my sister and we each bring our own projects and the ingredients we need. We play cheesy carols in the background and swap some of our spoils at the end so we each have plenty of different treats to offer to guests or to give as gifts.
  4. We buy our Christmas tree as part of our local primary school’s fundraiser. Here in Melbourne Oxfam also deliver Christmas trees to raise money.