The very second the last trick or treater finished wiping off the final smear of scary face paint on 31st October the festive season officially started! By Mel Tucker.
I love Christmas, especially now that I have my own children to experience it with, but the onslaught of commercialism that accompanies it wears very thin, especially when it starts in October.
For me the real meaning of Christmas is love, family, friends, food, fun and hopefully a few presents but it is easy for these things to become lost behind a corporate roadblock of ‘those’ big red trucks roaming around the country; drowned out by the debate about whose advertising campaign made more people cry and questions about which major department store Lily Allen will be singing for this year.
So back in September (I know, but I am a planner and need to be well organised or Christmas just won’t happen!) I made a pledge which I felt would help me get back to my own spirit of Christmas; enable me to make sure my presents were more meaningful and my hard-earned money went further; and on a selfish note, might also protect me from some of the corporate blitz.
So the pledge: I am TRYING to ensure that every present I buy this year ticks at least one (but hopefully more) of the following boxes:
I posted my pledge on social media immediately, so I couldn’t back out of it and just do a trolley dash in the nearest supermarket. Gulp!
Initially I felt slightly panicky about where I could go and how the heck I was going to achieve this. But I am very happy, not to mention pleasantly surprised, to report that once I got going it’s actually been easier than I expected.
So in case anyone else is already feeling a bit ‘Ba Humbug’ about the festive season, and would like a slightly alternative perspective on the joys of Christmas shopping, here are a few of my exploits so far:
One soggy Sunday we were looking for somewhere to go to keep our daughters amused. They requested Dartmoor but as it was too wet to ramble outdoors we compromised and visited the House of Marbles (free and fun day out) and Devon Guild of Craftsmen (a charity) at Bovey Tracey. A few hours later a couple of bags full of beautiful things had been purchased while the girls and daddy were busy drawing superheroes as part of the Guild’s half-term activities. Between the items I bought at these two places the boxes I ticked included: charity; fair trade; handmade; independent and local.
Another day and I popped into Devonport Live (a social enterprise café) to book a meeting room and walked out with a handcrafted gift from one of the many local artists and crafters showcased there: handmade, independent and local; tick.
We are also making up a couple of ‘good cause’ hampers as presents for family members this year: rattan baskets purchased from Tavistock Pannier Market (handmade, independent, local); filled with shredded paper (recycled); packed with goodies that the recipients will hopefully love from social enterprises like Café Direct; Divine Chocolate, Clarity and Rubies in the Rubble.
Sofa shopping – my favourite kind – has included an Ebay search under ‘handmade’; refining the search criteria to within 50 miles; sorting the results by nearest first and seeing what comes up – in this case a couple of stocking-fillers from a local crafter who donates 10% to a diabetes charity – charity, handmade, independent, local; check!
Other stocking-fillers have been found at Plymouth Play Association’s Scrapstore on Union Street; local crafters Moby and Puddle and Embroider Me and small independent toy shop Whoopee (which I am contractually obliged to go in anyway as I have children).
What I thought was going to be difficult is actually turning out to be easier than traipsing round for hours being bombarded by a commercial Christmas. I am on my way to being 75% done on the Christmas shopping front (do you like my smug face yet?!) but have not set foot in a single department store/chain/supermarket to do it.
I still have numerous Christmas and Craft Fairs of all sizes at the likes of Royal William Yard, Mount Edgcumbe and Plymouth School of Creative Arts; Christmas on the Barbican; and Plymouth’s Independent Quarter to hit.
That sounds like a great reason to celebrate - pass me the Fair Trade mulled wine…ho ho ho!