Ask anyone and they will tell you that the highlight of their holidays is spending time with family and friends. We all say that holidays really should be about time spent not money spent, but then, when it comes down to it, we all go and blow wads of cash on an abundance of gifts, mainly material goods. Why is there such a disconnect between what people say they believe and what they do?
I’m no different. It feels wrong not to give anything to my loved ones at Christmas. Luckily with my friends I have compromised and declared a gift truce – we all pitch in for the food bank instead of doing personal exchanges. But with family, it’s different.
This Christmas, instead of declaring a moratorium on gift giving, we decided to keeping giving gifts, but to try to stick to the rules of the Clean Bin Project: give experiences or consumables or make things from what we already have. As you may already know, I went on a baking spree and filled numerous re-used containers with goodies. We also gave gifts like pedicures, movie tickets, cooking classes, and cross-country skiing adventures.
But what I was really amazed with was how our families came through with creative and thoughtful gifts. Yes, we received a few material items, but they were all useful such as a glass container with a resealable lid (filled with chocolates and perfect for phasing out those plastic containers we are trying to stay away from) or a beautiful set of Christmas plates that I really will use.
For the most part, we got lovely consumables (like food and soap) and exciting experiences. In fact, Grant and I have a series of dates lined up for the coming year. From going to a movie to attending a play to getting a massage to going out for dinner, we managed to get a sort of extended version of Christmas, and are looking forward to quite a few eventful evenings.
Our bathroom is now stocked with lovely soaps that should last us hopefully until next Christmas. This was great timing as we were down to our last bar. I love receiving soap because people always choose ones that smell wonderful and that are much fancier than whatever I would buy for myself.
Another thing that was impressive was how many people brought out their canning jars and dusted off their oven mitts and made food from scratch. We got salsa, tortilla chips, mustard, jam, apple sauce, salmon, marmalade, antipasto, chutney, chocolates, cookies, crackers, cookies . . . . did I say cookies? My mom even gave a us a tin of cookies with a “refillable every month for a year” note! It’s like a cookies of the month club. No fewer than 8 people gave us homemade food! What a talented group!
We also got some lovely store-bought delicacies like hot chocolate, gourmet cookies, soup, tea, alcohol, chocolate bars, and smoked salmon. Our pantry is now a bountiful collection of treats, and almost all of the packaging can be re-used (canning jars and cookie tins) or recycled. That is backed up by a nice collection of recipes that we are looking forward to trying out.
And before those who gave us charitable donations get up in arms that they weren’t mentioned, let me just say that we also recieved several thoughtful donations that really do deserve their own post and will be discussed later.
Now I do realize that I started this post talking about how the holidays should be about time spent and then ironically went on to brag about all the great gifts we got, but I think you’ll agree that what we recieved was decidedly lower impact than the average North American’s Christmas haul. So lest you think I’m getting off topic, let me assure you that much quality time was also spend over the holidays.
Finally, a big thank you to all our family and friends who avoided wrapping paper (unless it was already being reused), brought out the fabric and gift bags in full force, and let us get through the month of December with hardly a scrap of waste.