Slow Living Series: Celebrating A More Mindful Christmas

I’ve never thought about applying the concepts of slow living to the festive season before, but it makes a lot of sense. Traditionally this is the time to spend crazy amounts of money while avoiding my bank account, all in the name of Christmas cheer.

I like to think that I’ve grown a lot this year, and these habits no longer align with my personal values. These days, I’m all about making sustainable choices while working towards my long-term goals!

So this year, I’ve decided to take a step back. Celebrating a slower Christmas doesn’t mean foregoing the holiday altogether – it’s about making small changes to my usual habits and choices that will result in positive, long-lasting effects.

Now that it’s Christmas Eve, I’m reflecting on the past month and feeling proud of myself. The presents are wrapped under the tree, my fridge is stocked full of food and I’ve watched enough Christmas movies to last a lifetime. So, what have I learned from a more mindful and sustainable December?

Choose the recycled option

With such a huge selection of recycled Christmas cards popping up in every stationary store these days, there’s no excuse to choose the environmentally-unfriendly option.

I opted for an adorable pack of London-themed cards from Paperchase and couldn’t be happier with them. Made from recycled materials and not even a hint of glitter (that festive sparkle is incredibly damaging to the environment!) they’re the perfect way to spread eco-friendly festive cheer.

Skip the post office

This is the first year since I moved to the UK that I haven’t shipped Christmas presents over to New Zealand. The postage costs seem to be increasing every year, and I can’t justify paying them any longer. Plus, I hate the post office with a passion during the festive season – it’s always incredibly hot, busy and stressful.

Instead, I’m gifting my family with money so that they can choose their own presents. It takes just a few seconds to transfer and is much easier on both my stress levels and the environment.

Set a budget

I recently read that around 7.9 million people in Britain will go into debt over the Christmas season, with most taking an average of seven months to pay it back. I found those statistics incredibly depressing!

I’m very lucky to be able to comfortably afford to spend money at Christmas, but I still want to ensure that I stick to a budget and continue to increase my savings this month.

First, I worked out an amount that I felt happy to spend. Then I decided how much to spend on each individual person as well as things like food, wrapping paper and  greeting cards. It was surprisingly simple!

I’m aware that it may not be so easy for many people across the UK, and next year I’d like to find a way to help those that are less fortunate than myself.

Make mindful purchases

A few weeks ago I got the urge to purchase a beautiful deep red sweater. It was fairly expensive, but I justified it with the classic excuse: ‘It’s Christmas!

Then I took a step back and thought, do I really need this? I already have an impressive collection of cosy sweaters, and as I work from home there’s a limit to how many outfits I can actually wear out of the house.

So with a pang of longing, I decided to forego the purchase. A week later I was cleaning out my closet, and stumbled across – you guessed it! – the cutest red sweater that I’d completely forgotten about.

This experience showed me the power of mindfulness. Christmas is never an excuse to blindly spend money, and making the effort to seriously think about every potential purchase can really make a difference to your finances. Sure, it’s the most wonderful time of the year, but Christmas happens every year – there’s no need to go crazy!

Get creative

In the past I’ve felt intimidated at the thought of making a homemade Christmas gift, but this year I decided to give it a shot.

If you’re lacking confidence in your creative skills, I highly suggest making a homemade Christmas hamper filled with festive treats. I usually spend around £80 on a prepackaged hamper, but this year I was able to create a personal (and ever better!) hamper for half the price. Homemade cookies also make wonderful gifts – I added white chocolate chips to these Cranberry and Pistachio Cookies which were a huge hit.

Play to your strengths when it comes to making homemade Christmas gifts and you can’t go wrong!

Go eco-friendly

I’ve always prided myself on having the cutest Christmas wrapping paper. Unfortunately, this enthusiasm for fancy packaging has put a serious dent in my wallet over the years – not to mention the impact that this unnecessary paper usage has on the environment!

So this year, I got creative. I purchased a few rolls of brown recycled paper along with some plain white gift tags, and snipped a few pieces of seasonal foliage from our garden. In total I spent less than £10 and I’m so happy with the results – plus, it’s far less damaging to the planet than my usual choices.

Cook up a storm

Strolling through any supermarket during the Christmas season is overwhelming – there seems to be a festive option for everything! It can be tempting to fill my trolley with seasonal treats, but this year I took a step back and realised that I don’t actually want to spend the entire month eating prepackaged snacks.

Everything tastes better when it’s homemade, so I picked the most tempting offerings and challenged myself to make them from scratch. If you’re looking for a little seasonal inspiration, I compiled my favourite festive recipes together into one article!

There’s also a limit to how much food we can consume on Christmas Day, so I’m taking care not to over-purchase in an effort to avoid wasting food. Of course, it goes without saying that we’ll be skipping the turkey and ham!

Give back

It’s easy to get wrapped up in buying gifts and filling your home with the prettiest decorations, but it’s more important than ever at this time of year to be mindful of others.

We spent some time decluttering our home over December, and ended up with three bags full of unwanted items ready to be donated to our local charity shops. It’a a win-win – we ended up with a tidy and clutter-free apartment, while others are able to purchase some pretty amazing Christmas gifts at affordable prices.

One thing that I’ve kept in mind throughout December is that buying things and spending lots of money doesn’t guarantee a good Christmas.

The festive season is the perfect time to be thankful and appreciate what you already have. When I think back to my favourite Christmas memories, the warm fuzzy feelings don’t come from the gifts I received or the food that I ate – they come from the people that I love. I’m lucky enough to be part of two wonderful families, which is more than I could ever ask for.

Taking a step back and actually being mindful about my choices at this time of year has been incredibly eye-opening. It’s so easy to keep doing the same things every Christmas even if they aren’t the best option for you. But making small changes to my habits and spending choices has reduced stress, saved money and even helped the environment.

How are you celebrating a more mindful Christmas this year?

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