Holidays and Presents (Zero Waste Update 3)
These types of blogs are usually written for Christmas. However, I got last year’s Christmas present on the 26th March 2018 and it was just Easter. So what better occasion for a holiday blog? I will describe the ways we decorate our small flat for the holidays but primarily give some ideas for presents. I know that we (the minimalists) are weird and complicated beings when it comes time for presents, so I will share what I would love to get in hope that it will give people good ideas for other special creatures like me – minimalist, zero waste, vegans. :D
I personally do not like the days of the actual holidays: meals, guests, mess. Time passes so quickly that I can never feel the true holiday on the day. Things are however different in the days beforehand because the Christmas spirit comes with the tree and the carols; Easter – with spring; my birthday – with autumn colours.
Whatever the holiday we do two things for sure – decorate our space and buy presents.
I usually decorate two places (for Christmas) – one in Bulgaria and one in England. But as much as I would like to take credit for the decorations in Dobrich it is completely my mum’s work and I will therefore only focus on my English home.
In England we truly decorated last year for the first time. We got a small tree and put on the small number of decorations we have (without even a top piece). Excluding a couple of baubles and the fairy lights, everything we have is made of natural materials – wood, clay, wool; we are probably only missing glass (maybe an idea for a top piece). Little by little we will grow our collection each year by carefully choosing second hand decorations or supporting companies that create sustainable products (or DIY more). Last year we didn’t forget our tradition to make paper snowflakes. Just scrap paper, scissors and patience can do wonders for our windows.
For Baba Marta my mum and I have a tradition for a March tree – blooming branches with martenitsi from previous years. We save those that are too pretty to hang in the park or leave under a rock.
Yes, my decorations are very simple, but they don’t take a lot of storage space and don’t make things logistically difficult to clean. The truth is that simple decoration in combination with Michael Bublé and hot chocolate or sunny days and a glass of Rose is enough to get me in a holiday mood. What more would I need?
Present giving is a “non optional social convention” (as Penny told Sheldon). It is disrespectful to be without a gift at a birthday party and absolutely unthinkable to not accept a present. And who would refuse a present?
Here is where the complicated people come in – those like me that have specific requirements – that it’s not material, but if it is to be material that it should be eco and vegan and sustainable and not to add on the need for new production. Yes, I know, you’re better off not being my friend.
For me the problem primarily occurs when I am given a present just for the sake of being given something, which often makes it underwhelming and honestly unnecessary for me. And because it’s the thought that counts, I have no difficulty giving the present away to someone who does need it.
Many would consider this rude, but to me just because the item is gone from my life, it doesn’t mean that the person who gave it to me will be gone too. Far from it, I would remember the thought and we will be even closer because of what we’ve been through together. It will carry more meaning than the preset.
And so I - and probably many others - don’t get into situations like this, these are some things that I would love to receive as a present for any occasion:
According to the 5 love languages my primary language is “quality time”. That means that for me true feelings are expressed through spending time with me. And here is where the best presents for me hide - special experiences:
A nice dinner;
A small trip;
Tickets for theatre, cinema, ballet, etc.;
Extreme sport experiences;
Massage or SPA;
An evening of boars games and wine;
And so many more possibilities....
These are things that would live in my memory forever. They will not collect dust on the shelves, clash with my interior, accidentally break or be forgotten on a train. They are so easily transported on a plane and the possibilities are truly endless. Presents like our trip to Morrocco, the afternoon tea for two, tickets to “Wicked” are events that I will always carry in my heart.
However, I would be lying if I said I want no material presents. Opposing the general expectation, I do need some things.
Year round I write a list of things I would like to have. As I don’t shop impulsively, these are things that I have carefully selected and have given a lot of thought. Therefore, I know that they are suitable for me. Some examples from the list are:
Metal or bamboo straws;
And if after all you would like to choose something different I have some, um..., guidance:
Something I use regularly and know I like (for example from my favourite cosmetics);
Something that be consumed (with so many new vegan companies the chocolate possibilities are endless);
Something second hand (so it doesn’t contribute to the need of new production);
Something handmade (with a lot of love in it);
Something supporting sustainable companies;
Something made of natural materials (if it can be composted than it’s okay);
Something which can help me get what I want (money is always a good bet to make anyone happy).
Oh, and it’s not necessary to wrap everything in special shiny paper or in anything for that matter. I often like using paper from online purchases, natural string and a nice green branch – everything recyclable and earthy.
It might look very self obsessed to be writing a list like this with suggestions and guidance. But honestly, whatever I receive, even if it’s nothing, I will love you a lot because you made time for me. And that is all I need to feel loved. And I hope that after all, this strange and honest list could save us all a lot of headaches.
Holidays can be very stressful. I hope that this blog helps with ideas and suggestions for more pleasant events with zero waste and minimalist results.