Hussh | A guide to avoiding overconsumption this Christmas

A guide to avoiding overconsumption this Christmas

The festive period is upon us, and despite the bitterly cold temperatures that December has so far brought, nearly every city centre has its festive lights on full display and Christmas shoppers are beginning to swarm the likes of House of Fraser, Marks and Spencers and Homesense in search of the perfect gifts this Christmas.

This is compounded with the convenience and ease of online shopping (believe me, my partner and I did the majority of our Christmas shopping on my phone within a 10 minute window…)

Huge shopping sprees have become as much a symbol of the season as Santa Claus or evergreen trees. However, many have complained about such rampant commercialism, arguing that the “true spirit” of Christmas is being lost underneath all the rampant advertising and push to buy the newest and shiniest consumer goods.

The consulting firm Deloitte reports that 73% of retail executives expect higher spending this holiday season as compared to last, bringing the per-shopper average right back up to its 2019 fighting weight of almost $1,500. But as we should all be aware of by now, the vast majority of those purchases will sooner or later (arguably the former) end up in some dusty closet, donation pile, or— worst of all — dumped in the ground.

In fact, the average British citizen will spend £54,000 on Christmas over the course of their life, with one in three relying on a credit card to pay for it. Something about the time of year appears to pile on the pressure to splash the cash. Spending upwards of £500 on presents, decorations and an abundance of festive food is considered a normality rather than a luxury as soon as the month of December hits.

Christmas consumerism has become a problem and something needs to be done. Whilst we’re aware that we’re not going to single handedly change things overnight, we’ve compiled a gentle guide to reducing your consumption this Christmas!

Set limits

One thing that my family have done in the past few years (mostly because certain members of our social circle have been struggling financially) is to create a limit of £20 per present. Of course, this is entirely flexible if people wish to spend more or less, however we’ve found it can help in getting your loved ones more thoughtful and useful gifts without blowing the bank.

Is this needed?

One thing that I remember from childhood was the absolute chaos of our Christmas stockings as a result of my mother panic-buying an assortment of what my grandma would refer to as “tat” from her local bargain shop a few days before Christmas eve. You haven’t seen true confusion until you’ve seen a teenager awkwardly smile whilst a miniature space hopper rattles across the dining table.

When buying a gift for your loved ones, ask yourself “will they use this?” or even better, ask your loved ones what they want — surprises are overrated.

Shop second-hand

One of the best practices to bring into your shopping habits is shopping second-hand. Chances are, your gift recipient doesn’t really want to be supporting corporations such as Boohoo and ASOS anyway.

Whilst we completely understand that second-hand shopping hasn’t always been accessible to those with busy schedules, it’s really never been easier. We recommend checking out your local vintage/charity shop, as well as apps such as Depop and Vinted.

Get a re-plantable Christmas tree

Thinking outside the proverbial box can apply to decorations too. Potted trees are one of the most sustainable ways to decorate your home for Christmas. We actually, by chance, opted for a blue spruce sapling that caught our eye as we were looking for dried flowers at a local florist, and have since been told we can plant it in the garden and use it continuously each year. Be warned, apparently these kinds of trees do require a lot of maintenance, however we think it’s worth the investment.

We’re completely aware that as a society we are expected to “consume” at Christmas, and it’s incredibly hard to always get it right. However it really is in our hands to think before we spend — and chances are, others in your life will be glad for it too.