Christmas is coming and there’s even more reason than usual to get excited about it - for many of us, it will be the first time we've seen our loved ones in months.
However, while Christmas can mean family, friends, food and all things festive, it can also mean waste, carbon and excess. Think of all those plastic cracker toys that get thrown in the bin, all the air-miles which go into shipping presents from overseas, or all the wrapping paper which can’t be recycled.
Getting green at Christmas might sound like it means forgoing all the fun, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Here are some great ideas for local, greener gifts you can buy for mums, mates, nieces and nephews while still enjoying yourself and spoiling the people you love.
Beebombs are a great way to get some wild flowers which attract bees into your garden. I was given a beebomb by a friend of mine last year. I'm not particularly green-fingered, so I was unsure how well it would do, but I followed the instructions, scattered the pellets in a pot in my garden last year and it quickly bloomed. If I can have success with one of these, anyone can! They might make great stocking fillers or cracker replacements.
Gofarging.co.uk offer three hour walks in the Bristol and Bath area where you will be taught how to identify, pick and eat the various edible delights you pass. These tours have been described as ‘excellent’ by one of our members; I might get one for my partner, as we've enjoyed making soups and pesto from wild garlic we've foraged near our house. If so, I'll report back in a blog next year!
Avon Needs Trees is a registered charity whose aim is to buy and rewild land throughout Bristol and Avon. If you have any eco-warrior friends, they might appreciate donation card in their name. They also offer a foraging calendar with different recipes for each month.
Photo by Veronica Reverse on Unsplash
Food and kitchen gifts
Square Food is a community kitchen in Bristol which offers cookery classes for adults and children. Barny Haughton, who runs the school, was recently awarded an MBE for his work. BCR secretary Dorian Wainwright has done a cooking class with Square Food, and he says:
"My mum got the two of us cookery lessons at Square Food one year for Christmas. I'm a pretty rubbish cook, but I really enjoyed it. I learned some useful veg cutting techniques and how to truly appreciate tofu, plus my mum and I had a really enjoyable evening together!"
Sarah at Kitchen Titbits offers courses on meal planning, avoiding food waste and clever ideas about how to get kids to eat better, making this a great present for any families you know whose children find food tricky.
If you're after a drink, check out the offerings from Quoins, an organic vineyard near bath. They sell a selection of local wines and will deliver. The Bristol Beer Factory and Bristol Gin are two more local ways to get merry this festive season. I gave a friend of mine some Bristol Gin earlier this year and he loved it. I haven't tried Quoins wine yet, but I'm prepared to get tipsy in the name of fighting climate change!
Who doesn't love chocolate? Chocbox are some Bristol-based beauties who make vegan chocolate which looks delicious. You can buy their goodies online or at one of Bristol's zero waste shops. The dark-chocolate with festive berries looks particularly good to me.
As we discussed in a previous blog, switching from shower gel to soap is a great way to reduce your consumption of single-use plastics. There are several great Bristol-based soap makers selling great gifts. These include Margaret May Soaps, Wildgrove Felted soap and my favourites, Made in Fishponds. I bought MiF soaps for lots of my friends for Christmas last year. The Give Me Soap, Joanna is my personal recommendation (I like to pretend it's named after me), although lots of lovely new products have been added to their offerings this year.
Cards, gift wrap and decorations
Jezaya Mitchell of Sew Much More has some lovely reusable wrapping fabric and festive bunting for sale on her Etsy page - grab some before they sell out.
Don't Send Me a Card is a great organisation which allows you to send e-cards to your friends and family, the profits of which go to a charity of your choice; charities on offer include Avon Needs Trees. Save paper, support eco-charities AND make your mates smile - that has to be a winner.
For a more traditional approach, WH Smiths are selling recycable wrapping paper - or you could get creative and use old maps or newspapers. One of our members saved Christmas papers from 2019 to use as wrapping in 2020 - what a fab idea!
Second hand or home-made gifts
As with everything else you might be thinking about buying in the future, second hand is always better. If the charity shops open again before Christmas, check those out for unusual clothes, books and games. If not, there's always eBay, Facebook Marketplace or Freecycle - all great places for snapping up kids' toys, kitchen bits or gadgets which might otherwise be ending up in landfill. And all for bargain prices as well.
Another option is to make presents yourself. What skills do you have? Can you whip up a delicious jam, build a beautiful bookshelf, write a moving poem for a pal? I've given home-made presents in the past and people always appreciate them.
If you have any ideas for green gifts or home-made presents, put them in the comments below. We're always happy to hear from you. And have a very happy Christmas!