Candy can work as a nice Christmas gift. Photo: Ann Lindberg/Imagebank Sweden.
Christmas preparations are in full swing in Sweden. Since Christmas often means doing what we usually do, only ten times bigger (buying more, eating more, travelling more), there’s no reason not to look like it from a sustainability point of view too.
The municipality of Botkyrka (autotranslated homepage) in the south of Stockholm, has made a campaign about how to celebrate more climate friendly. One way is cutting down on the meat, since the traditional Swedish Christmas buffet is quite loaded with that. Another thing is not to make too much food only to throw away a lot of it in the end. Why not ask the neighbours if they want some?
Then there are of course hundreds of different ways to turn resource-consuming and stress-creating Christmas gift shopping into something better.
Recently I was interviewed by a Swedish radio show about this, and told them what became my personal eye-opener: When I was about 14 years old we used to spend Christmas with my grandmother, aunts, uncles and cousins, alltogether around 15 persons.
Like these - but green. Not every 16 year old's favourite...
As the years went by, the gift-buying, wrapping and opening took more and more of the days we spent together. Until one year, when I and my mother, gathering the gifts to put them under the Christmas tree, suddenly realized we had missed one gift, for my two year older cousin David. Panick-stricken, we took what we had – a box of green marmelade jellies – and wrapped it. I can assure you that green marmelade jellies wasn’t the dream gift for a 16 year old boy, not even in the beginning of the 1990:s…
After this we realized it was time for a change. In the end all we wanted was spending time together. So we decided to concentrate on that and cut the gift business drastically. This year I’m just giving away a few gifts, most of them edible. But no green marmelade jellies…
Here are Botkyrka’s gift suggestions:
- A punch ticket at the local swimming pool
- Give away a theatre ticket, or why not two and come along yourself?
- Give something that makes people in other parts of the world happy too, like a goat to a poor family or financial help for a safe childbirth. Check out what different organisations do.
- Who would say no to 30 hours of garden work?
- A massage.
- Your own kitchen is as good as any shop. Cookies, buns or Christmas sweets are perfect gifts. (recipes for Swedish ginger snaps and saffron buns can be found here)
Last but not least: A great and very exclusive gift can actually be time. The other day I heard of a lady who asks her grown-up daughters and sons to give her their undivided attention as a Christmas gift. One day when they spend time with her, without beeping mobiles or checking their e-mails. Just her and them. That’s a gift money can’t buy.