A Humble Christmas Creating Memories

No matter what walk of life you are from or religious beliefs you may have, we all enjoy family time and coming together to create memories.

For many of us, Christmas is a time for just that, I think most of you will agree when I say in recent years the humble Christmas traditions and values have been forgotten.

Times and people have changed over the years for many different reasons, as businesses and industries have grown the commercial side of Christmas has changed our ideals of what a great Christmas really is.

With the shops full of glitter, bright lights and sparkle to decorate your home and shelves full of luxury gifts that look beautiful wrapped with expensive gift wrap under your tree. Everyone has developed a need to have the biggest tree, the most lavish Christmas decorations and the most expensive gifts to give.

It sounds and is wonderful, but this encourages greed and for many brings stress, anxiety and worst of all debt. The younger generation seems to have a see, want and must have attitude, this is not the fault of the child as this is the only way they have known, their world is full of ‘stuff’ and they never feel satisfied because there is so much more that they haven’t got. All this has been given to them for nothing, no reason and all year round.

As parents, we have wanted our children to be happy and content. To experience everything the other children have, with the growing pressure from adverts on TV and the internet it has become a challenge to keep up with trying to give our children these expensive gifts, which I hasten to add does not bring happiness or family memories, it brings never ending greed for more and children that are growing up with no appreciation or gratitude. The saddest part is they are not experiencing all the heart-warming activities of giving and enjoying traditional family times which create life long memories.

I am guilty of all the above, I was a single Mum to 4 little girls and when Christmas came around, I wanted to make sure they wouldn’t feel left out.

We are also guilty of telling our children things such as ‘Father Christmas only brings gifts for the good boys and girls’ so not wanting friends to have more than your child becomes even more of a need, as no matter how your children behave you want them to be happy on Christmas morning with a great big sack of presents!

How to have a humble Christmas?

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Planning a humble Christmas this year to create lasting memories.

With the last couple of years being even tougher for many families, let us get back to enjoying a true humble Christmas.

Being vegan helps us to look closer at what we eat and everything else we buy including gifts. Vegan gifts obviously are cruelty-free to all our wonderful animals, let’s make sure all the gifts we buy this Christmas are kind and thoughtful to us and the planet.

Here I have listed some of my favourite ideas to bring family time, giving and gratitude back to the heart of Christmas.

Spend only what you can afford

We all have different budgets and ways of life, one of the most important things here is to keep within your personal budget. Work out how much you can afford to spend on Christmas, set that money aside and do not get out the credit cards.

List children’s gifts, other family gifts, food, entertaining, Christmas decorations etc

Then allocate your spending budget.

Your Children’s Gifts

The biggest reason many families find themselves in debt in January is from overspending on children’s gifts.

It will help not to show your children toy catalogues and try to not promise ‘if you are good’ you could ask them if there is just one thing they would really love to receive.

Look out for second-hand toys for sale and give them a clean, you could even put wanted ads for items that you would like to get.

Have a big sort out of the toy box and sell toys that are rarely played with, if you do this in the evening when little ones are in bed, I bet they won’t even notice they are gone.

There are so many other families in the same situation so try organising a toy swap, this is a great way to give children new toys that cost nothing or very little.

Recycling and reusing toys also prevent more items going to landfill, cutting down plastic waste.

Give only one or two gifts from Santa, the rest from you. This is better than receiving a great sack of ‘free’ gifts from a magical man and not learning gratitude for the gifts they receive.

Buying and sending Christmas cards

For all your friends and family send an e-card or a personal text message/email including a festive message wishing them a Humble Christmas and an explanation why you will no longer be sending cards. I bet they will do the same next year when they realise how this is saving on general waste and money.

You can attach photos of the children etc and even voice notes.

Many schools encourage cards sent from every pupil to every classmate, this is a huge waste and is an expense that many parents must go along with for fear of their child being left out.

How about a suggestion that all children do one card for the whole class and they can be put up on the classroom wall over December. You could suggest this at your children’s school or mention it to a few Mums to see what they think.

Family gift giving

Vegan gifts for childrenAs families get bigger with uncles, aunts, nieces and nephews make a few suggestions to the family about gift giving.

For example:-

If you buy only for your children and not your nieces and nephews, you will all have more in your budget for your own children. Of course, your siblings will only buy for their Children, not yours.

Buy or make one family gift instead of individual gifts for every member of each family. This doesn’t mean you have to purchase a more expensive gift because it is being shared.

You could suggest buying gifts only for the children in the family and no adult gifts.

Whatever you decide sharing your humble Christmas ideas and cutting back on the number of gifts and the amount spent on each gift will have a great impact on your budget.

Excessive amounts of food

Why do we feel the need to fill our homes with so much extra food and drink like chocolates and sweet treats?

We all like a special treat at this time of year but be mindful of what you are buying extra and when you will consume it.

Homemade gifts

I used to make sweets and chocolate truffles to give as gifts to friends, family and neighbours.

Get the children involved they will feel so much pride when they have made gifts and wrapped them, taking them round to neighbours or putting safely under the tree for when their friends and family visit.

There are so many different things to make such as biscuits, fudge, Christmas decorations, chocolates, Hot Chocolate sticks, artwork made to hang up, gift hampers put together, jars of homemade granola, potpourri with cinnamon sticks, dried orange peel and ferns or even bath salts. The list goes on …… Please let me know any other suggestions you have of gifts that you make.

If you are short on time or just not able to make your own, everything on MettaLife is made ethically with love by one of our UK small businesses. Have a little look at our Christmas Gifts.

Making Christmas decorations

A small fortune can be spent on decorating your home for the festive season. Get the children involved and make your own, there are hundreds of ideas on the internet.

You will have so much fun and I guarantee there will be items that you will save for many years bringing them out every year remembering the time they had been made.

Here are a few suggestions:-

A star or angel for the top of the tree

Tinsel Coat hanger with baubles

Paper dolls snowmen and Santa’s

Cookie Christmas tree ornaments

Handprint art for pictures, cards and decorations

Painted pinecones

Christmas log table decoration with candles.

Christmas Events

There are lots of free Christmas events held, look at all your local online groups to see what is on. This may include town light switch-on, craft fairs, church services, libraries having Christmas events and workshops for children, carol singing and the round table Santa visits.

Put them all on your calendar so you don’t miss any.

Christmas books and movies

Before December arrives find all your Christmas story books and movies, go to charity shops or cheaper bookstores and find as many different stories as you can.

Put a date on each one from 1st to 24th December, then put them all in a box, every evening there will be a different Christmas story, maybe weekdays it’s a book and weekend evenings it’s a movie.

December can be a very exciting time for children and with the promise and anticipation of which story it will be before bed, this can help the bedtime routine.

Remember once December is over put your books & movie collection away safe ready for next year, it will then be a tradition every year to bring out the Christmas stories.

If you are a few short you could always go to your local library and borrow the extras.

Gifts for Siblings

A lovely idea for children to learn and experience the wonderful feeling of gift giving. Each child is given a certain amount £5/£10 whatever is in your budget. They are taken out shopping to choose a gift for their sibling. They wrap it and keep it till Christmas day.

They will be so excited to give these gifts they have chosen, it will become a special tradition they talk about during the year.

An act of kindness

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Another nice way for children to learn about a humble Christmas and think of ways of making others happy. Write the names of all your family member on individual pieces of paper. Fold them up and place in a bowl, every day in December take it in turns to pull one name out of the bowl. Whoever’s name is taken out you need to do something kind for them that day.

This is a great way for children to think for themselves about what the other members of their family would enjoy.

For example:-

Maybe clear the table or lay the table to help Mummy at meal time or get Daddy’s slippers etc

It is so much fun watching how children think of new ideas and the enjoyment they get from this game is amazing.

You don’t have to keep it only to family members, you can list friends and neighbours who might love a little act of kindness.

Christmas baking weekend

I love baking, especially at Christmas with the smells of cinnamon, orange and nutmeg… You can’t beat it!

Set aside a weekend on your calendar to bake all your favourite Christmas treats, this is so much nicer than buying ready made items. You will then always have something in for guests.

Make a few extra for the children to take round to neighbours or for their teacher.

If you are not the greatest baker, you may like to look at our vegan baking gift box sets to enjoy a baking day.

Gratitude

Gratitude is very important for children and adults, with gratitude also comes empathy and generosity.

It should be practised all year round, but December is the perfect month to introduce and practise it in our everyday lives.

Here is an idea to encourage us all to think about being mindful and grateful.

At dinner time every member of the family writes down (adults can write for the little ones) what they have been most grateful for that day. Something different everyday.

I am grateful for ……

Or you could write a message for another family member:-

Thank you for…..

I wish ……. For you

I love you because…..

Hang the pieces of paper up on a small ‘gratitude’ Christmas tree or simply pin on a cork board, on Christmas eve take a look at all the things you have to be grateful for and give thanks.

Saying Thank-you

We all have those certain people in our lives that do things that are so thoughtful and kind. We don’t always get round to saying how much we appreciate them and their acts of kindness.

Send them a text message now or write a postcard telling them how much you appreciate them. It maybe one act of kindness someone has shown you or it might be a friend who is just always there for you.

I promise you it will warm both your hearts.

Letter to Santa

 This can be a tricky one, all kids love to do their letter to Santa.

How about you give them a little guide, still they think for themselves, but they have to put one item for each heading.

These are the headings:-

Something I Want – This would be the big gift they have asked for.

Something to Wear – An item of clothing (older children will have brand names in here I’m sure)

Something I Need – This could be for a sports activity they take part in or something a little extra for school maybe.

Something to Do – Activity, game, crafts etc

Something to Read – A book they would love – Take a look at Vivi the vegan

Something for my Family – Game, activity, maybe something for a holiday such as tent etc

Then you can always get any extra gifts for them as a special surprise wherever the budget allows.

Play Board Games

This is the best fun for the family, allocate one evening a week to board games, all technology is turned off even your mobile phones.

Invite friends over and get a vegan drinks gift box, make it a regular event, you will be surprised how much fun it is and how much you all laugh and communicate with no distractions.

Giving to Charity

There are many ways to give to charity, you can, of course, send money to help with your chosen charity.

You can give your time as a volunteer, you can visit people living close by who may need shopping and can’t get out or someone who is a little lonely and would love a chat for an hour.

A lovely idea to do with children is to make some giving bags. Decide how many you will put together. There is no rule to whatever you would like to put in these.

For example:-

Homemade cookies or cakes

Socks

Sun screen

Gloves

Wet wipes

Toothbrush & toothpaste

Packs of nuts

Healthy protein bars

Bottle of water

Pop the items into a sealable plastic bag.

Go into your local town and give to any homeless people you see. You could make them up and keep them in your car then as you drive around in December when you see someone on the path you will have a bag to offer them.

A Christmas evening with your besties

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It is important no matter how old you are to enjoy a real Christmas evening with the Christmas tree lights twinkling, a good Christmas movie, your favourite vegan snacks, Christmas songs, your favourite food and lots of laughter with special people in your life.

To talk about past times and make a few new memories. So, while planning your diary for the kids and family events make sure you plan for the adults as well.

Only give gifts that people want

Stop buying gifts for the sake of it, if you are getting gifts ask the recipient what they want.

A friend may even want one of your wonderful cakes, a vegan gift set to relax and unwind or a date night with their partner & you go to babysit, a nice quiet coffee and a chat or help to catch up with ironing or housework.

These are all meaningful gifts that are so needed!

Check-in with people before you spend your money.

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Fill your Vegan Christmas with love, kindness and most of all the spirit of giving.

Show your children everything to be grateful for and never feel guilty for what you couldn’t give them.

A Humble Christmas will bring you new memories and a feeling of contentment.

Tis’ the season to be kind, thoughtful and vegan.

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