Should we embrace a gift-free Christmas in an effort to save the planet?
PUBLISHED: 21:00 27 November 2019 | UPDATED: 10:10 28 November 2019
Binge-buying gifts leaves us with mountains of debt (and single-use plastic). Our reporter asks, is it time to stop piling up boxes by the tree?
Frantic sale rack scrambles, a desperate search for stocking stuffers and a shopping bill longer than Santa's naughty list - isn't Christmas the most wonderful time of the year?
I am, of course, being a bit of a scrooge. But the madness of the Black Friday sales is enough to turn even the most festive among us into a grumbling Grinch.
Every year, the pre-Christmas sales try to tempt us to part with as much money as possible, luring us in with promises of unmissable deals and bargains galore.
And as Black Friday rolls around again, many of us are feeling a bit fed up with this consumption bonanza.
After all, isn't there more to Christmas than spending? Instead of splashing the cash on extravagant, magnificently wrapped presents, should we all be going gift-free this Christmas? It might sound like a ludicrous idea, but its one that's growing ever more popular - particularly among younger generations.
Gift giving can be lovely way to celebrate the festive season with family and friends. There's nothing quite like the look of joy on someone's face as they rip the wrapping paper off a thoughtful or much-coveted present. For every perfect present, though, we're all probably guilty of panic-buying a handful of needless items.
The sad truth is that many of the presents we buy each year will be shoved away in cupboards and bedside cabinets, never to see the light of day again.
And then there's the problem of packaging. Each year, UK households throw away 277,000 miles of wrapping paper - enough to stretch from Earth to the moon. That's on top of the 40 million rolls of Sellotape, 125,000 tonnes of plastic wrapping and one billion Christmas cards that will end up in our bins this December.
Suddenly, that pile of presents under the tree is looking very wasteful, indeed …
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A gift-free Christmas might just be the thing to save our planet and our purse strings.
The concept doesn't completely dismiss the idea of presents, but encourages us to think about giving different kinds of gifts, such as 'experiences' rather than 'stuff'. These don't have to be extravagant gestures, such as a theatre show or a museum membership, and could instead be something as simple as cinema tickets or a night at the bowling alley. Homemade gifts also make a very welcome change from shop bought items - and who among us wouldn't be happy with a deliciously indulgent homemade cake this Christmas? Extra eco points for using local ingredients, of course. Charitable donations are also becoming an ever more common gift, as people look to give something back at Christmas. Instead of splashing out on a physical gift, big-hearted shoppers are putting their money towards causes that mean a lot to their loved ones.
This gift-free movement might work for some of us, but for families with young children, it might not be quite so appealing.
There's nothing very festive about telling your kids that Father Christmas has adopted a zero waste policy.
Even then, there's no harm in encouraging youngsters to feel content with less, and Christmas is a good place to start.
In 2016, British parents spent an average of £206 per child, and each year, mums and dads spend the weeks leading up to Christmas worrying over whether they've bought 'enough' presents.
Out of these mountains of gifts, many toys will be inevitably grown out of and discarded before too long as kids move onto new crazes, games and interests.
Perhaps it's time we relegate the role of presents at Christmastime.
The giving of shop-bought, mass-produced items has come to define the festive season, and often leaves us feeling stressed out and broke.
This year, it could be time for a change. And if that makes me a scrooge? Well, then: bah humbug.
Have you pledged to give fewer gifts this year? Get in touch here.