Give, give, give: this fast-approaching festive season is all about the giving of ourselves: our money, our mindshare, our energy and time. And how we give ourselves to these preparations matters. I'd like to share with you how I think shopping preloved this Christmas is a win for you, your friends & family, and the planet.
The Joy of Giving Preloved At Christmas
Escape the Pressures of a 'Perfect' Christmas
Let's face it, choosing the right gift is a key element to a successful festive season. We're already being bombarded with Christmas adverts telling us what we need to buy to achieve a perfect Christmas. Is it just me who finds this really off-putting? Or are we all getting sick of the materialism of this time of year that leaves families struggling in debt and creates a mountain of stress? Most people I know have pretty much everything they need: if they see something during the year that they fall in love with, then they just buy it and treat themselves. We don't wait for a birthday or Christmas any more. And so we approach 25 December with some notion of that perfect gift out there that is going to delight and surprise: it's a myth.
After every Christmas, I always vow that I will do it different next year. And then next year comes and I don't know what it looks like to do it differently. But I so rarely buy new now that regular shops stress me out. I can't do it any more. I have to believe that out there in the preloved universe, there are gifts with the names of my family and friends on.
10 Ways to Embrace Shopping Preloved This Christmas
So here are ten thoughts that may help you make the shift to buying preloved this Christmas:
- There is no perfect gift out there. Any gift chosen and given in love is enough. Good enough is good enough.
- Spending less on gifts removes the stress of over-spending so your friends and family get to spend time with a better version of you who is not drowning in debt.
- Over-consumption is destroying our planet. The best gift you can give to those you love is a healthy planet and sustainable future that is far more likely if you break the cycle of over-consumption.
- You don't have to compromise your values to please anyone else. The people who love you love you as you are and will be happy with a gift given in love from you as you are.
- Think outside the box. A gift doesn't have to be an item bought in a shop. You could make something or offer a service or make a gift voucher for an experience with you or a meal out...
- Shop small. Shop independent. Shop local. Support local small independent businesses and makers. The best way you can show your appreciation of a shop or artisan is to buy something!
- Restructure your Christmas traditions so that the gifts are not the central focus of the day. Take time to play games together, eat together, create memories together that do not consist of piles of plastic packaging, empty boxes and wrapping paper.
- Talking of wrapping paper, how about using re-useable gift bags or fabric wraps instead? It may not look so beautifully co-ordinated for your Instagram but you will feel so much better about reducing waste to landfill.
- Enjoy yourself! You'll be avoiding overcrowded shopping centres and huge queues. You'll be bringing joy to smaller shop owners/workers and donating to charities along the way. You'll be engaging your creativity and imagination. And you'll be aligning with your values, which trust me, is so much more satisfying than the alternative.
- Don't apologise. You don't have to explain yourself. Give your gift with confidence, owning your choice as the best you can offer to the recipient, but also to yourself, small businesses and the planet itself.
10 Preloved Gift Ideas 2023
So what kind of item makes a good preloved gift? As a fan of a list, here are ten ideas of items I'll be looking out for...
- Books: I love the idea I've seen online of giving 12 books individually wrapped in packing paper, one for each month of the year. Or a selection of books for different occasions, again wrapped and labelled eg. 'For a Long Journey', 'For a Rainy Day', 'For a Holiday', 'For a Day in Bed' etc
- Upcycled Clothing: A denim jacket is great for this - buy or make patches, add a bit of embroidery...get some inspiration online and go for it!
A Box of Goodies: a friend did this for me once with lots of small items with happy vibes eg. bubble bath, a notebook, a book to read, a little ornament, a badge....How about a wellbeing set with incense, an eye pillow, book of inspirational quotes etc?
- A Food or Drink Set: how about a pretty wine glass with a bottle of wine, or a mug with some hot chocolate sachets and marshmallows, a decanter and a bottle of whiskey, or an unusual bowl with a jar of olives? You get the idea.
Accessories: Accessories are easier to buy for someone else than clothes because they are just one size - so a scarf, toiletry bag or handbag for example make a great secondhand gift.
- Jewellery: With jewellery, it's all about the presentation. Find (or make!) a little cloth gift bag or box to put the brooch, necklace or bracelet in. It will make all the difference.
- A Christmas Decoration: I don't know why, but this always appeals to me. I think the idea that your chosen gift will come out again and again, year after year, and become part of the Christmas tradition pleases me. And that something from this season of over-consumption and excess can be given a new life - it's a statement of intent in itself.
A board game or card game: buying a brand new game is so expensive and in our house, we only really play games at Christmas. So buying secondhand feels a better option, as long as you can open the game up and check all the pieces are there.
- The most ugly/grotesque/quirky/unique item you can find: I've heard about a few Secret Santas on this theme this year and I've got mixed feelings, to be honest. And of course, one person's ugly is someone else's beautiful. Again, in our house, the gifts that have been remembered over the years are the quirkiest. If it raises a smile and creates discussion, then maybe that can be considered JOB DONE.
- Anything that catches your eye and draws you to it: Shopping preloved is a bit of a treasure hunt. If you can, then take your time, browse without fretting and rejoice when you come across something you love, or even better, think one of the people on your gift list will love. Then my advice is to go with it and not overthink it.
I hope that helps. It's helped me! I'm going to hold my head up high and follow my heart this festive season. This is what I believe in. This is who I am.
Have a wonderful secondhand Christmas, everyone!