As this life-changing year draws to a close, perhaps it’s time, for logistical; economical; environmental; and humanitarian reasons, to think about how we can give Christmas gifts in a new way – and make sure this new world, is a better one.
SAVE THE INDEPENDENTS
I think we all realise how hard this year will hit small, independent businesses. If we possibly can, let’s try to find ways of buying from them this Christmas. Some will be open, some will be online, some might do a casual click and collect… it’s worth checking – email, send them a message – find out what they’re offering. You may have seen in the news recently, that hundreds of indie bookshops have united to take on Amazon, and help independent sellers survive while the high streets are deserted. This is the kind of large scale revolutionary progress I hope to see much more of in the years to come. To get you started, here is our very own Colomba shopfront at bookshop.org where you can find our inspiring booklist!
MAKE THE MAKER’S DAY
Giving always feels good, but when the source of your gift is a gift in itself – well, everyone’s a winner. There are wonderful makers, restorers and collectors offering their wares on websites like Etsy. I’ve been looking out especially for people in the arts who’ve turned their hand to crafts while their industry is on hold. It feels great to support freelancers at the end of a difficult year. And of course, on top of that feel good factor, you are getting something truly unique to give to a loved one.
VOUCH FOR SOMETHING DIFFERENT
Vouchers are a Christmas stalwart, but why not think past the usual suspects and go rogue. You could buy lessons from a local guitar teacher, an online pass for a yoga studio nearby, or gift them a wonderful chunk of learning from Colomba – do you know someone who might like to try Ballet Basics, Qigong/Tai Chi, Contemporary Dance or Wild Art Journalling? It could really brighten up a dreary January. Just click on ‘buy this as a gift’ when you’re adding the course to your cart.
I love the idea of giving an experience as a present. Especially this year. Bungie jumps or sky-dives might be off the table for now, but there are plenty of offerings online. My friend just bought an online museum tour ‘date’ for her aunt and uncle to cheer them up when Christmas over and they’re stuck in the house alone again. How about a pasta making kit? (that’s something to do!) Seeds to plant? (that’s something to do!) Self-baking clay for a keen potter who can’t get to their classes? Giving gifts that will enhance the lives of others after the season is done, will be more valuable than ever.
STAND FOR SECOND HAND
If the local charity shops and flea markets are open, and you can get there, brilliant! – go forth! But if not, there are fantastic second hand finds on eBay. I love trawling to find an antique something-or-other. Even if it’s a children’s toy that you would usually buy new – why not see if there’s one going second hand? Hand-me-downs for the masses! We may think of recycling as shoving the cardboard in the right bin (and that’s great), but there is so much more we can do. Send that old chair to be re-upholstered by the lady down the road – it would look great in your daughter’s flat; knit a scarf for a friend with that random wool in the attic.
DIVE IN TO D.I.Y
If you’ve got more time than usual in the run up to Christmas this year, it can be both money-saving and mediative, to make. Spend a dark afternoon making chutney for the neighbours – why else are you hoarding all those empty jars?
Make cards, make gifts, make cookies. You might feel childish, but I think this may be a year in which your family will appreciate something personal, and made with love. Top tip to get you thinking: The best wrapping paper I ever made was out of the old winter editions of my mum’s House & Garden magazine – It’s glossy already – you just have to cut, colour-code, and tape it back together!
Whatever you decide to do this year, try not to worry. You might not be able to give as much, as freely, but it really is true that the thought alone, is enough.
“The manner of giving is worth more than the gift” – Pierre Corneille
As always, we love to hear from you. How are you feeling about gifting this year? Are you shopping big, shopping small, DYI gifting or maybe gifting a socially distanced hug? Let us know in the comments below.