Think before you panic buy for Christmas


CHRISTMAS TIME It could be easy to get swept away by all the hype and talk of shortages.

Think before you panic buy for Christmas

Green Living
McKinley Neal

When I was younger, one of my best friends was obsessed with Christmas, and felt it was appropriate to start listening to holiday music, decorating her house and convincing those around her of the joy of the season on November 1. I was never won over by her enthusiasm until after December 15, and I was happy to exist with a much more understated and slow-burning appreciation for Christmas—until I opened a shop.
In just three years in retail, the run up to the holidays has accelerated – and lengthened – dramatically, and this year in particular it feels urgent to be thinking months ahead.
All major media outlets have started to tell us that we need to shop for Christmas now, or there’s a good chance the items that the people in our lives really want won’t be available (due to Covid, Brexit, the shipping industry and loads of other things) and we’ll all be disappointed.
Initially, that sentiment made me sweat, wondering if I am doing enough to prepare for more volatile moments in an already stressful 18 months. But then I took a deep breath; it can be easy to get swept away by the hype around some of these comments, so it’s great to have clarity around our own priorities and convictions before we go running off to buy items just so we don’t miss out.
This is a great opportunity for us to check in with ourselves, to determine what is the best use of our time, money and attention. Many of us are living on reduced incomes due to decreased work, and stressing about how to buy things won’t make us any happier.
In our family, we are prioritising the gatherings with people we have not spent nearly enough time with in the past two years, planning earlier for what celebrations we will have and what we need to commit to make or buy for the event.
We have time now to use creativity for gifts and decorations instead of handing over cash for everything. We understand that posting items may take longer, so we’re starting with the letters and gifts for people further away.
We’re trying to find out what’s most fulfilling to our gift recipients – and it’s not always material items. For adults, vouchers for meals or courses feel more unique this year, as we all need activities to look forward to. For kids, we’re finding out what top toy they want, and getting that early (and possibly secondhand). Then, we are encouraging others to offer to spend time with them doing something meaningful, which cuts down on waste and makes them feel special (our kids love to do anything with their aunties).
As for where to buy, we have hopefully all witnessed the impact of supporting local growers, producers, artisans and retailers who have done their best to keep our communities vibrant and well-fed during the pandemic. Shopping local honours the efforts we’ve all made during the tough times.

McKinley Neal co-runs PAX Whole Foods & Eco Goods, a minimal-waste shop in Westport offering bulk organic foods, reusable goods, household products, eco-friendly personal care items and gifts.