It is all too easy to fall into the trap of over-spending at Christmas. Over the weekend I couldn’t help wondering if I should buy a couple more presents for Lyra and Jenson, even though their stockings are already full to bursting. And then I read Jess’ update on her no-buying challenge and it reminded me what Christmas is really about. Over to Jess.
I’m almost a quarter of a way through my no-buying challenge and without wanting to sound dramatic, it has been utterly game changing in my life. Firstly it’s made me really think about my buying behaviour. I’ve noticed that I’m more likely to buy when I’m tired or emotional, when I’m stressed or hurting in some way. I’m more likely to want new clothes when I’m covered in breast milk, haven’t slept and I’ve eaten all of the chocolate for energy – basically when things are hard I reach for the card.
And yet despite this, I haven’t really missed it. Sure, a few times I’ve wanted to buy something but not enough that I’ve cared about it the following day. And the payoff has been more than worth it. I have more time, I have more space and the impact has spiraled into other areas of my life also. I’m finally getting rid of the excess. I can see clearly now what I want in my life and what I’m holding onto for no good reason (usually because it was a gift, it cost lots at the time or “I might need it one day”) – I packed up loads to take to a charity shop the other day and in there I put a hairband that “I might want to wear one day” – I’ve owned it for seven years and worn it zero times. Every time I get around to de-cluttering I keep it because of the “what if” factor. You know what? I’m sure I can find another better hairband or perhaps borrow one from a friend.
When I recently went shopping for a birthday gift I loved every second – I actually enjoyed the experience of shopping: of buying independent, of browsing, of having it nicely wrapped, paying a bit extra for small special gifts and supporting my local shop (shout out to Willow & Stone, the finest gifts in Falmouth). What I loved was having the space to browse and buy a really considered gift for somebody without being lured in by 3-4-2 or sale signs. And then when I had finished I bought myself some flowers (flowers are allowed) because they make me feel fantastic.
I’ve been really hot on buying from independent brands and really supporting the maker’s movement. This year I’ve bought my daughters each a hand stitched animal head from Ella and the Roo which I adore and is something they can treasure forever. I’ve also just discovered new toy company Whirli who I think are truly innovative – basically, customers pay for a monthly subscription so that you can swap toys out each month, avoiding accumulation and keeping things fresh and fun. Another gift I’ve found and fallen in love with this year is the This Grateful Now Journal. Beautiful and simple, what better gift is there than the gift of gratitude this Christmas? Of looking at what we already have and feeling truly thankful. If I buy just one gift for friends and family throughout 2019 this will be my go-to gift. I adore books as gifts but for those like me, trying to declutter possessions I cannot recommend Nurture enough. Full disclosure here, I’m one of the writers for this magazine but I receive no money for this and I have found it such a soul-enriching read full of inspiring stories and photography. A digital magazine owned and run by Kate Cullen (of beautiful wedding styling fame), it is the epitome of hygge and a proper cosy Sunday curl up companion. A subscription to this would make a wonderful gift for any creatives in your circle.
Mr C and I don’t really do gifts but I know that he has got me a new changing bag (functional but necessary right now) and also he’s commissioned a piece of jewellery handmade by an incredible jeweller on our doorstep (The Coral Grove) for the birth of our daughter which isn’t really for Christmas, it just took him this long to sort it out! I can’t say what I’ve got him because even the walls have ears (although I will say that it’s an experience, not more stuff). Other children in the family I’ve bought either books or toys from smaller independent brands. I’ve also chosen experiences over gifts for adults and children alike – animal adoptions, day passes, spa treatments, basically – buying less but buying better. That’s the moral of the month. This whole experience has made me reduce clutter, reduce chaos and appreciate connection in a way that I never did before and I’m only three months in.
I thought December would be when I would crack. When I would feel I was missing out on all of the festive spending: the gifts, the oh-so covetable Christmas that Instagram promotes. But I don’t. I don’t miss it one bit. This Christmas I’m looking forward to an abundance of candles, the fresh scent of a tree, fairy lights and fun with my family. And that’s what really matters. Not the money, not the marketing hype, not the mayhem. For the first year in a long time, I’m seeking a bright Christmas and not a White one – sorry Chrissie and Co, I’m a changed woman!
Image by Adam Crohill