Take a deep breath and don’t panic………

Five days to go and the stress levels are approaching critical levels. That desperate trawl around the well-known high street chains, the budget of £xx to show how much you “care”, the nagging feeling that you are spending far more than you can happily afford on things that are – well – pretty mediocre, fairly superfluous and probably won’t stand the test of time. It’s worth quoting Tim Jackson yet one more time: “… people are being persuaded to spend money we don’t have, on things we don’t need, to create impressions that won’t last, on people we don’t care about”.

So what to do?

At the 6heads Christmas as Unusual event we showed how by looking around at what we already have, we can usefully up-cycle items to make individual and quirky Christmas gifts. The ladies from Sew Much Fun demonstrated how an old city shirt, the cotton softened by numerous washing cycles, could be transformed into the most beautiful festive knickers.

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Alex at Oxfam showed how a man’s tie could very simply, but effectively, be transformed into a beautiful piece of jewelry. Exploring Senses’ toy hacking activities transformed a once-loved but now discarded assortment of soft toys into the most extraordinary creations of mutant creatures designed to both endear and repel at the same time. Fascinating to observe that our attendees were incredibly engaged and inspired by what they saw ….. with a bit of forward planning and organization, these group “making” activities would be incredibly popular. Toy hacking hit a particular nerve –  I have never seen so many men  (any men !!) sewing before.

 

Whilst it’s probably too late for most people to start making – something to schedule into the diaries for October/November 2013 – it’s still not too late to give gifts that are kinder to the planet. Rifle through your cupboards at home and try and up-cycle what you already have, consider buying gifts from charity shops – a second-hand favourite book beautifully wrapped, for example, or an experience such as theatre tickets – or ditch the buying altogether and promise a very personal gift of time or effort, through the DoNation.

The one area where there is no need to stress further this weekend is wrapping. It is estimated that over Christmas, as much as 83 square km of wrapping paper will end up in UK rubbish bins, enough to cover an area larger than Guernsey.  In addition, wrapping paper is often dyed and laminated, can also contain non-paper additives such as gold and silver colouring, glitter and plastics, can be very thin and contain few good quality fibres for recycling and usually has tape on it from the gift wrapping. Laura Davis demonstrated how items can be beautifully wrapped by using old newspaper, brown paper and fabric, with bows made from glossy magazines and ribbons made from zigzag fabric strips.  It’s really quite therapeutic, actually!.

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Reflecting on the whole pre-Christmas retail madness, I am no different from anyone else. It takes time and effort to do things differently. As a rule of thumb however, something locally-sourced that is good to eat or drink is usually a good bet whilst anything likely to end up in landfill before the next festive season is not.
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