Sustainability Bulletin: Don't go broke trying to impress others this Christmas

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Save money for Christmas and give the environment a break by creating your own gifts and decorations.

The wreaths are up, the icicle lights are hanging and the shopping time bomb has started its countdown.

Love it, like it or dread it, Christmas is right around the corner. While many people relish making shopping lists, baking delicious treats, decorating the house and preparing overall for the big day, others wish they could hide under a rock until the festivities are over. Face it — the Christmas season has morphed into a consumer’s paradise or nightmare, depending on your perspective.

For many, the holiday season triggers panic, confusion and a flurry of other heightened emotions fuelled by thoughts of ‘what am I going to get for them?’ or ‘will I be alone again?’ Students in particular often fall victim to these feelings since they’re usually on a tight budget and away from their loved ones. Fortunately, there are events one can attend to feel included and lots of pocket-friendly ways to treat your friends and family, without going broke.

Navigator. Londons student lifestyles magazine.

One of these lovely gatherings is Friends for Dinner, Christmas 2019. It’s a free program, aimed at connecting international students with kind, Canadian families and bonding over a delicious, holiday meal. Students are not required to take a traditional dish, but they can if they so desire. The dinner date will be scheduled sometime during the week of Christmas and interested parties should visit friendsfordinner. ca and sign up before Dec. 3, in order to take part.

Volunteering goes a long way, especially at Christmas, and helps you to realize how truly blessed you are no matter how much you think otherwise. Visit shelters for homeless families, retirement homes, hospitals and other members of your community who you may not have seen in a while.

Another big focus of the festive season is gift-giving and the questions of what to buy and how much to spend. The truth is you don’t have to spend much, if anything at all, to show someone you care. The phrase “it’s the thought that counts” is a familiar one, but one that carries with it some truth.

While we would all love to spend bundles on our friends and families, the fact remains that most of us can’t. Nevertheless, warm feelings can still be conveyed and in a sustainable manner. We all have our unique talents that we may showcase occasionally, and there’s no better time than the present to do just that.

Those who enjoy baking can whip up some tasty delicacies such as cookies, tarts or cakes and decorate them nicely. Wrapping need not be a headache. Coloured kite paper, tied with ribbon, along with a hand made card, works perfectly and shows the recipient that you put a lot of thought and effort into a unique gift.

For music lovers, you can recycle your old vinyl records, and create a journal or notebook cover from them. You can also try painting a notebook cover and personalizing it with glitter paints.

Homemade, fruit infused, scented candles, soaps and body butter are literally sweet tokens as well. Design your own necklaces using pieces of crystal, stone or old jewellery. Let Photoshop or your mobile editing apps be your friend by creating fun pictures with you and your besties or family, and sharing them for Christmas. Let your imagination run wild.

Christmas tree ornaments and other decorations are easy to make by recycling items around your home. Wooden bottle corks can be transformed to miniature nativity characters, by painting faces on the top and dressing them accordingly. Glass bottles can be used similarly, or painted and used as vases for your poinsettia flowers and twigs.

Clay can be moulded, dried, painted and hung, or personalized and gifted as well. When you’re finished with your wrapping paper, don’t forget to place them in recycle bins, or save them for next year’s festivities.

Kindness is free and it takes absolutely nothing to make someone feel special, be it a compliment, a hug, friendship, or sharing your blessings with them. Everyone wants to feel included, regardless of age, gender, ethnicity or background. For 2019 and onwards, make Christmas about love and include your heart in the giving.