Thinking ahead to Christmas cheer.

(I am not at all religious, but I absolutely love the Advent Conspiracy videos for their message of simplicity, love and joyful tradition over consumerism and stress.)

It may seem a little early to talk about Christmas, but really if you’re going to opt out of the shopping it’s better to think about this earlier rather than later. In my family, we started the discussion about not shopping for Christmas in August, because my mother sometimes starts that early! But Brian and I decided some time ago (last year in fact) that we wanted to start winding down the commecial Christmas in our life and this year we are seeing that happen – which I am really excited about!

Excited why? Because for me the worst part about Christmas is the shopping, the fretting about the right gift, the money put on credit cards that we spend months paying off. And that worst part taints all the other good parts (family, eating, bright holiday lights, parties, friends, festive drinks) so that I end up feeling less than celebratory about it all. So I put it to my family (my parents, brother and sister-in-law) who we spend Christmas Day with every year: How do we all feel about not exchanging gifts? How about we just give each other nothing, or handmade gifts instead?

And surprisingly the overwhelming response I got was — relief. Relief rather than resistance. Because probably for most people the most stressful thing about the holidays is the last minute fit of gift-buying, or guilt about not gift buying, and the attendant debt that goes with it forever after. So I’m not alone.

Of course Brian and I aren’t able to go without giving anything, because we like to share things with the people we love and care about – and so this year we are working on a series of gifts for the people in our lives which include some baking, sewing, and canning that we’ve been working on since September. The sewing is what I’m least sure about at the moment because I’m really just a beginner-level sewer – but over at Sew Mama Sew, they have started their annual Handmade Holidays month which includes fabulous tutorials for all of November.  I am making at least one project off a previous year’s Handmade Holidays and another from their scrap-busters month earlier this year.

Additionally if you are stuck for ideas about what to make – over at the New American Dream they have loads of ideas under Simplify the Holidays – along with an Alternative Gift Registry which I think is such an awesome idea for those of you planning weddings or other events (some of the most treasured gifts from our wedding were in fact the harvest boxes that came from our friends’ gardens!)

So I say – for the first time in years – I am excited about Christmas again! And I encourage all of you to consider a Christmas without commercialism, because I promise it will be a lot less stressful for everyone. (I just hope I can get these damned sewing projects finished on time).

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