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  • Writer's pictureGina Ferrari

Mindful and Sustainable Gifts

As we approach Christmas, I think that most of us turn to thinking about gifts for our family and friends. Izzy and I recorded our latest podcast about gifts. Well to be fair it was meant to be about useful items or things we love to have around the studio etc but given the timing we turned it into episode about things we might find useful or like to receive (at any time not just at Christmas). I really struggled to come up with five things and it got me thinking a lot more about gift giving.

I think as far as useful or must have items go the studio, I would be happy with my good scissors, some fabrics and threads, my sewing machine and some decent art materials such as paints, pens and an unlimited supply of paper or sketchbooks. I’m not really one for gadgets or unusual materials. I’m also in the fortunate position that if I really need something I will usually buy it for myself. But it does make the idea of gifts a tricky one.

But although there is very little that I need in life, I still love to receive gifts… I mean… who doesn’t? But even more I love to give them. There is nothing more satisfying than sourcing a perfect present and imagining the pleasure it might bring. It is a way of showing someone we care about them and have been thinking of them. But in today’s culture of excessive consumerism, especially at this time of year, the whole subject of gift giving can be fraught with stress and unnecessary expense. The shops are overflowing with the ‘perfect gift’ and with the pressure of Christmas rapidly approaching and ever-growing lists of things to do it can be tempting to grab something mass produced off the shelf without much thought.

In our family we try to aim for consumable, sustainable or homemade where possible. Last year I knitted everyone hats (twelve in total, we are a big family) but I did make a start back in September… I certainly wouldn’t recommend starting now! And although every year it gets trickier trying to come up with new and novel ideas while finding the perfect thing for each recipient, with the right mindset it can be fun. It is all about slowing down, being more mindful in our giving and having less impact on the planet. I started to make a list of various things I have done in the past and potential ideas for this year and I then I got to thinking that others might also find it useful. And so, as a gift to you I have put together a PDF of tried and tested, mindful and sustainable gifts.

Gift ideas
Download PDF • 232KB

As well as giving to others it is worth remembering you can give yourself gifts and treats too. One of the things Izzy said she would like is some time for herself and my response was that she could give herself this if she wanted to. I’m not sure I convinced her, but I believe it is true. Maybe it is not possible to have a whole weekend or a whole day but most of us can arrange things so that we can have an hour or two of uninterrupted time for ourselves. Time to paint, to sew, to read a book or take a walk… these are all the gifts we can give to ourselves.

The other thing I also really enjoy is wrapping gifts, but with the estimate that in the UK alone we will use 227,000 miles of wrapping paper this Christmas, most of which will end up in bins and cannot be recycled we need to be more thoughtful about gift packaging too. I am a terrible hoarder of ‘useful’ boxes, jars, bottles, bags and tins and save every last scrap of paper and ribbon that comes into the house, so this all comes into its own at this time of year. If I do need to buy new wrapping, I try to use plain brown paper or sometimes I will make reusable bags from scrap fabric. The Japanese often use fabric for wrapping gifts and there are special square cloths called furoshiki especially for this purpose. In the following video you can see a couple of simple ways of wrapping furoshiki style but I’m sure that with a little Google search you will come up with many more ideas

I hope you have lots of fun making, choosing, wrapping and giving gifts this year as well receiving some too! And if you have any good ideas for sustainable and mindful gifts, I would love to hear from you.

And you can listen to the podcast from 10 am on Thursday 2nd December as we chat about gifts, by following the link or going to your usual podcast platforms

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