This Christmas we find ourselves facing both a cost-of-living crisis and global climate emergency. The moment has come to pause and reflect on what happens at this time of year and the impact it has on people and our planet.
Concerned about the impact of the festive season on people struggling financially, as well as on the environment, we commissioned a survey to support a campaign to help reset Christmas.
Our mission: to help free people of the obligation to buy gifts and overindulge at Christmas.
Why? Because what really matters at Christmas, as our survey showed, is time with family and friends.
99.5% consider the priority is time with family and friends not gift-giving.
Indeed, 60% of people said they have cut back this year citing financial and, critically, environmental concerns.
Furthermore, our survey revealed that religion is also a diminishing element of the festivities, with less than 2% of respondents citing it as something that matters at Christmas. The absence of both gifts and religion from the survey results are also reflected in this year’s big brand Christmas adverts, John Lewis and McDonald’s in particular.
In response to the question ‘what does Christmas mean to you?’ comments included:
- The four F’s – family, fun, friends and food
- To end the year on a high and reflect … an opportunity to unwind with my family and be grateful for my life
- Time to down tools and focus on time with friends and family
Some also took the opportunity to highlight what they did not like:
- Too much emphasis on spending and not enough emphasis on peace on earth and goodwill to all men. Christmas is too commercial
- Commercialisation of Christmas appals and disappoints me
- Conscious/guilty of impact on the environment
What matters most at Christmas?
The word cloud is a powerful representation of exactly what Christmas means people.
How to have a more sustainable Christmas?
As part of our campaign, we’ve been sharing some ideas for how to help people reset Christmas with those they celebrate the festival with. Check out some of our top tips below:
1. Create your own Christmas traditions
Create your own traditions – repeat something every year and it will become a family tradition! This Christmas, create special memories by firmly framing it as a day where you get together to have fun and acknowledge and celebrate all you have to be grateful for. Things you can do:
- Get everyone involved in Christmas Dinner – get the kids mixing stuffing, someone peeling the veg, someone chopping, someone in charge of the table, someone in charge of drinks
- Memorable music – play your favourites from the year or decade or Christmases gone by – sing and dance – have an actual party!
- Activities for the children – games, simple nature-based arts and crafts, perhaps a decoration for the table
- Christmas smells – our sense of smell is so evocative – a seasonally scented oil in a diffuser or Christmas decoration can add a lovely ambience and trigger lovely memories every year
- Take a million photos – capture the day with photos to look back and let everyone take some!
- A little bit of magic… for those celebrating with young children sweets or small gifts left by elves is all that is required to create that magic!
2. Think about sustainable Christmas gifts and eco-friendly wrapping
While we all want to do our bit reducing needless consumption, giving gifts can be lovely. So, if you really want to give gifts at Christmas, how about:
- Focus on presents with meaning that connect emotionally or tell a story, like a memento of a shared trip or a photograph in a frame from a charity shop
- Cut the circle of present giving to ‘a gift’ to immediate family members
- Buy local: locally made things from local shops
- Buy pre-loved (online marketplaces and charity shops)
- Support a charity as a gift – for example UNICEF Inspired Gifts
- A hand made present will be much more appreciated than a shop purchased gift
- Garden plants or seeds (not cut flowers or cheap houseplants which are also bad for the environment!)
- Write and send thoughtful Christmas letters to wider family and friends
- If using gift wrap, make sure it is FSC certified so limits the environmental impact, or better still consider reusable gift bags that don’t need to be thrown away.
The Gift of Christmas Video
With no budget, we produced a short video – The Gift of Christmas – to support our mission to #ResetChristmas for the nation (world!). The video has been narrated by Stephen Fern, the founder of Ark2030 which is leading a global mission to help restore damage done to planet Earth since the Industrial Revolution and enable every individual, business and community to help build a future where people, planet and prosperity are valued in equal measure.
We approached Stephen to see if he might like to help us – here’s what he had to say: “In the last two decades the focus of Christmas changed from the celebration of a religious festival to worshipping at the altar of consumption. However, the greatest gift we can leave for future generations is a healthy planet. The message created by the team at RMS to help #ResetChristmas, imploring people to consider what really matters and adjust attitudes around consumerism, is critical to achieving that goal.”