As we approach the holiday season, I’ve been thinking, as someone who loves giving gifts, about how to do so more carefully, and more sustainably. I’ve always known, as we all do, that love and care have no price tag.
A gift cannot prove I love someone, if I am not regularly showing that person that they matter. And the amount of pressure we put on holidays, monetarily and emotionally is anxiety inducing, especially when we also consider the amount of waste and overconsumption encouraged during the holidays.
I know that there is a better way. So I’m approaching this holiday season, as I have been trying to approach most things, with love and kindness. I know that my, that all of our attempts, might be imperfect, but that we all must begin when and where we can, with what we have.
It’s taken me a while, but I realized that I want fewer things
When I started sewing my own clothes, I didn’t stop buying things. But I did slow down my consumption, and started to focus on buying fewer things, and buying from local makers, smaller businesses, and secondhand. Those impulses I feel to buy something new when I get a sale ad, or flip through a magazine, are fleeting. We are taught that buying something will make us happy, and that buying something for someone else will make them happy. But I’ve felt happiest when spending time with people I love, not money. I’ve felt happiest when learning something new, or teaching a friend something I care about. So I gathered up all of those feelings, and thought about how to give gifts, that, instead of cluttering my friend’s homes, or creating a sense of obligation, can replicate those feelings, while continuing my efforts to break out of the fast fashion cycle and live more sustainably.
It is natural to want to show our friends and family that we love them through gift giving during the holidays. But why not shop secondhand, through ThredUp, Worn Wear, or your local secondhand and vintage shops?
And an intangible, experience based gift, like an online class is a great choice, especially during this winter. We’re partial to our Mindful Wardrobe class, but there are great classes available for everything from permaculture to mending. For the makers in your life, be sure to check your local craft store, where they can help you put together a curated bundle of supplies. And our digital sewing patterns can be sent as a gift, by choosing “Gift” at checkout.
This year I’ve decided I am going to give baked goods to my loved ones. Baking is such a love filled act for me, and I’ve dearly missed being able to share the fruits of my labors. Though I won’t be able to be with family in person, sending baked goods helps me feel like we are celebrating together, even while far apart.
It can be tempting to overemphasize holidays as well. I’m not saying we shouldn’t value, enjoy, and celebrate them. But if we make efforts to care for one another, to be open and vulnerable about how we feel, and to show the people in our lives that they matter to us, all year round, it puts less pressure on a time of year that can be difficult for many. Kindness and care, like making sustainable choices, are things we have to practice, and make a habit of. It feels hard at first, but it also feels good to make it a part of your life. These practices have an ability to ripple outwards, and the more you do them, the easier they become.
Meg and I have put together a list of classes, second hand shops, favorite recipes, and other gift ideas for this holiday season. We hope it helps you find something for your loved ones. And we’re wishing everyone a safe and happy winter.
- The Mindful Wardrobe
- How to Piece a Scrap Quilt
- Upcycle Stitches, Learn Sashiko Online
- Dirt + Dye Subscription
- Collingwood-Norris Mending Tutorials
- Mending Matters by Katrina Rodabaugh
- Mending Life by Nina and Sonya Montenegro
- Darning: Repair, Make, Mend by Hikaru Noguchi
- Eleven Madison Park Granola
- Best Quick Jam
- Jam Filled Scones
- Ultimate Banana Bread
- Blueberry Cornmeal Muffins
- Before purchasing new, check Ebay, Etsy, or your local Facebook marketplace for a gently used option! Put a new coat of paint on a vintage doll bed or spiff up a secondhand bike (or scooter) with streamers, a basket or wheel lights.
- Cardboard costumes, paper dolls, or even play houses! Both economical and biodegradable, cardboard is always a creative kid’s best material. Call up your local appliance store – they are usually more than happy to get rid of a huge box or two. Artist Merrilee Liddiard has an gorgeous collection of printables and inspiration for making dreamy costumes out of cardboard.
- Make doll clothes out of your fabric scraps. There are so many clothing patterns on Etsy – just search for your doll size and be prepared to become obsessed.
- Experience coupons. In the past, we have gifted our kids a day of skiing, movie tickets, “dates” with a parent, or other fun experiences. For example, my boys are really into mountain biking, so they will be receiving a “date” with Mom for a day at an awesome bike park a few hours out of town.
- A vintage record player and vintage vinyl for the music-loving kiddo.
- If purchasing new, consider supporting a small, handmade business on Etsy, which provides carbon-neutral shipping for all orders.