Shopping for Christmas presents and other festive goodies at this time of the year can be a lot of fun. There are loads of tempting deals around as retailers become ever-more competitive in tough economic times, and targeted online advertising campaigns means that it’s easier than ever to part with our cash.
However, the culture of consumerism can mean that we end up buying stuff that we don’t really need, or spending when we can’t really afford to. It also contributes to the climate crisis by wasting non-renewable resources and generating Co2 emissions during the manufacturing and delivery process. Not to mention all that endless clutter in our homes…
So, are there any steps we can take to shop in a more sustainable and thoughtful way, without completely taking the joy out of Christmas? Here are a few tips and suggestions.
Set a price limit on each present
Before you begin Christmas shopping, go through your list and set a price limit on each present in advance. If you have kids, this will avoid the temptation to give in to pester-power and help them to appreciate what they have.
Use a budgeting app
If you are tempted to overspend, keep tabs on your outgoings with a budgeting app. These help you to plan your spending in advance and make you think twice before making those impulse buys.
Make your own decorations
Hand-made Christmas decorations add character and charm to your home, as well as being a fun and creative way to spend an afternoon. There are plenty of websites offering tips to make beautiful and low cost decorations using found objects and natural materials such as twigs, leaves, and pine cones.
Buy pre-loved items
There are now loads of easy ways to track down quality second-hand items through online e-commerce sites and social media sites, as well as many high street charity and vintage stores. This is a great option for clothes, jewellery, childrens’ toys, DVDs, books, and items of furniture.
Do a family secret Santa
Instead of buying gifts for your whole family, agree to buy one nice gift for one person. Pick names out of a hat as you would for an office secret Santa to ensure that everyone buys for a different person. This saves a lot of time and effort, especially if you have a larger family, and can keep a lid on spending.
Recognise ‘retail therapy’ emotional triggers
Many people will buy themselves something nice to cheer themselves up, and there is nothing wrong with this now and again. However, marketing tactics are becoming more subtle and sophisticated, and retailers can exploit the allure of emotional purchases.
Fear of missing out can lead us to snap up a Black Friday 'bargain’ for example, when in reality the product may be on sale for the same price next year. If you are prone to shopping impulsively or for solace for a low mood or anxiety, try to limit your screen time and choose a distraction such as going for a walk or speaking to a friend.
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