I'm not going to do a full Christmas gift guide post this year. I just don't think we all need to be buying more stuff just for the sake of it. Sorry if that sounds anti-Christmas! Last year I did a small series of gift guides where I focussed on supporting small businesses and suggesting that we consider gifts that are ethical, reusable or longer lasting and I especially love the idea of days out, family time, making memories and having experiences.
So instead I am going to pick some of my favourite ideas that keep to this mantra and share with you my own plans for gifting this year. Plus I love the blog post that Jo from Less is More has written so I will share the link to this further down.
With an adult son who has an amazing job and earns a good salary and a daughter away at university it is is hard to know what to buy them now, and I have decided not to focus on just more 'stuff' for the sake of it - just because that is what we have always done. Stocking gifts will be useful and functional but with some extra spoiling - treats we may not buy ourselves but I'd rather put less in their stockings than waste money on things that will never be used. Yes they still have stockings! And how much easier is it to fill a daughter's stocking than a son?!
My husband are I have a few days away in La Gomera in the Canary Islands in December, we are there to wave a friend off, he is rowing in the Talisker Whiskey Atlantic Challenge so our break will be a lovely Christmas present. And I am desperate to decorate our bedroom so to be able to buy some new soft furnishings will do me just fine!
Here is my pick of my favourite small businesses, some local to me, but all able to offer online shopping and all that fit my plan of ethical, reusable or longer lasting. And some ideas for days out and 'making memories'.
Inspire my Soul - Karen makes personalised, hand stamped keepsake jewellery from her home studio near Maidenhead and you can find lots of inspiration on her beautiful website. I also love her collaboration with another local business lady, essential oil jewellery - take a look here - all affordable and a long lasting gift.
Lavana Cosmetics - I met this talented young lady last year when I purchased some of her bath bombs for stocking fillers - and her business is going from strength to strength. Verity and her small team make bath bombs without any nasty chemicals, they are vegan friendly and cruelty free - and they are environmentally conscious - their packaging is so pretty and take a look at their accessories too, like their handmade alpaca bed socks!
NW & Co Candles - Unfortunately scented candles, we now know, are not so good for us - but they are a gifting favourite! So what are the alternatives? Look for soy, beeswax and vegetable wax melts. For a mainstream brand try Neom or look out for smaller, local makers, you can find a great selection on Etsy. I popped into the new Maidenhead Gift Emporium on Saturday and purchased an artisan hand poured candle from NW & Co Candles, you can also buy online.
Sew-eco UK - A range of reusable make-up remover wipes as well as other reusable items - I bought these for me and my daughter last Christmas and I am pleased to report that a year later we are still cotton wool free! Love them!
Beauty treatment vouchers - Wo doesn't love a treat? A facial, a massage or getting your nails done. I think a voucher is the perfect gift. I love Sunrise Health & Beauty in Marlow, L&A Evolution in Maidenhead and Warren Beauty's perfect sanctuary in Maidenhead. And for a gorgeous manicure how about No 21 Beauty Within in Lane End.
Lunch at Cliveden - If you want to splash out in style then a voucher for lunch, afternoon tea or dinner at this famous country house hotel is a must! Make a day of it and enjoy the gardens.
Day out in Oxford - My sister runs a small business Walking Tours of Oxford and a day out in this historical city is a must for anyone not just tourists! Book a two hour tour and get off the beaten track and find out what is behind the main shopping streets.
Day out in London - Always acceptable, organise a day out in London, put together a bespoke itinerary based on your loved ones favourite things to do - see my post here for some ideas! Plus these blog posts too - afternoon tea at Harrods, or The Berkeley, and an escape room experience.
Cookery School - I love going to see Jen at her pretty home and garden in the Berkshire countryside, her cookery school, Fearless in the Kitchen focuses on 'better eating for a healthy life' and she has a range of different days to suit all tastes - choose from healthier baking, meat-free meals, vegan cooking and gut health.
Afternoon Tea - see above ideas but my favourites are The Berkeley, The Corinthia Hotel, Harrods, Fortnum & Mason - in London or Cliveden, Danesfield House or the Compleat Angler all near Marlow.
Now to share Jo's words of wisdom on the subject ..
Leading up to Christmas last year, I wrote a blog on Decluttered Gifting which talked about the fact that most of us have more stuff than we need in our homes and in our lives generally. It gave ideas for gifts which would be "consumed" (would not linger much beyond the end of December) as they would be eaten, drunk, burnt in the case of a candle, enjoyed for a defined period flowers/plants) or were experience based. If you missed it last year, please do read it here as it provides the basis for writing this now.
If we learnt one thing in 2019, surely it's that the world does not need more new stuff? With this in mind, I've updated my blog with some fresh ideas for experience gifts and consumables. In line with repurposing and what I refer to as "conscious buying", I'm also featuring companies who produce goods from materials that would otherwise go to waste, or who have a story to tell, (which goes beyond selling items for solely for their own profit).
Christmas creates so much waste, much of this waste is due to the huge number of unwanted gifts that end up being returned to the shops and ultimately end up in landfill. According to an article published in the Independent in January 2019, "More than 4 million people returned an unwanted Christmas gift last year (data supplied by GoCompare)". Christmas waste doesn't just come from the exchange of unwanted gifts however, but also from the paper used to wrap those gifts. Christmas cracker debris also deserves a mention in this category too!
Just to re cap on what I said last year, I'm not for a minute suggesting that there'll be an empty space under our Christmas tree, with nothing to be unwrapped on Christmas morning. My daughter always has her eye on some new things for her bedroom and who doesn't like to start the New Year with a couple of new (or even secondhand) books?
Maybe this year though, we could all be a little bit more creative and environmentally conscious in our buying and giving? I'm thinking both from a decluttering perspective and for the future of our planet. Each and every one of us has a responsibility not to request more than we need this Christmas. If we want gifts coming our way to be consumable or experience based, or at the very least second hand, made from repurposed materials and/or from sustainable sources, we must communicate that wish to our friends and family.
With this in mind, I've come up with a list of Christmas gift ideas. Where possible, I've given a local to Maidenhead idea and also a national (UK) alternative, (unless the idea is applicable for both). At the end of the gift list I've included some alternative gift wrapping and Christmas cracker ideas.
You can read the rest of Jo's post and see her suggestions here ...
Less is More | Buy Less, Do Good this Christmas - 23 ideas for decluttered and good conscience gifting
What do you think? Are you changing your attitude? I wish I'd been more mindful of all this when my children were small, looking back at the amount of plastic toys that were bought and never used, I'm horrified! And some of the unwanted or unneeded gifts from over the years! But we can make changes going forward. And I am well aware that the fashion industry and fast fashion are one of the biggest culprits - change can happen but it won't happen overnight, it is a gradual process of changing our habits.
Other blogs you may have missed and find useful:
Mum and Daughter Day at Nirvana Spa
Afternoon Tea at The Berkeley Hotel, Knightsbridge
A Private Tour of Oxford
Welcome to Fifty & Fab, a lifestyle blog celebrating women. I am a blogger with a passion for writing about style, beauty, health and fitness with a focus on the over 50's. I am based in Marlow but work across London and the South East.
Hi, I’m Michelle and my blog Fifty & Fab is all about my journey into and through my fifties. I share style tips, health and fitness inspiration, I talk about my holidays and days out and I tell you about my beauty regime and my lifestyle. I hope you might pick up a tip or two and get some inspiration!
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