It's normally around this time of year that I realise that Christmas is sneaking up on me. Now, 4 months away may seem like a long time. But experience has taught to leave shopping until December at my absolute peril. December is the month of school concerts, special assemblies, school trips, and last minute it's almost end of term playdates. December is when you can't get a car park at the plaza and the line in Target is 40 minutes long. Oh, and it's stinking hot - just to make sure that waiting in the car and in endless queues is even more enjoyable.
Over the last three or four years I've started to think differently about Christmas shopping. The mass consumerism disturbs me a lot. Last year I went to the annual toy sale at a big department store and I saw people dragging two trolleys absolutely overflowing with toys up and down the aisles. They looked doped up on a shopping high. One man was blindly grabbing things off the shelves and hurling them in without so much as a thought. The greed and the MORE MORE MORE of that day turned me off big time. I decided to cancel my layby and hand make almost all of my gifts. It took a lot of time to think of ideas, find materials in thrift stores (my goal was to recycle as much as I could), and then create my gifts. It would have been easier to buy things but nowhere near as satisfying.
The gifts I do buy, I want to buy consciously. I want to buy ethically produced, fair trade products, and things where I know a fair proportion of the money is going back to the people who need it. Websites like Oxfam and Kiva have online shops where you can donate on someone else's behalf. Oxfam has an online shop where you can donate money towards something tangible like a chicken, a water testing kit, or a fishing net. Or if you like to give something that can be unwrapped, they also have a store selling fair trade products like scarves, jewellery, musical instruments, and toys. I've already bought a few things from the Oxfam Shop that I'm squirreling away for Xmas. Here are some of the beautiful things you can find on the website:
Another one of my favourite websites is Ethikl. Ethikl sells "Eco friendly, organic, upcycled and fair trade products by independent designers and ethical producers". There's a huge range on their website, here's a teaser;
Where and how we spend our Christmas dollars is important. It's our shopping vote - I believe in this, I don't believe in that. My plan for this year is to have a simple, ethical Christmas. I hope you'll join me :)