Bleats

Christmas Gifts That Are Kind To Your Wallet And The Planet

Going to the Good Place.

If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably had several frustrating Christmas gift-shopping experiences, wherein you’ve realised how seemingly impossible it is to buy things that are both environmentally-friendly and affordable. However, there are a few loopholes for giving ethical pressies minus the steep price-tag – you just have to get a little creative.

Rule number one: avoid mass-manufactured products wherever possible. Surprisingly, they’re not always cheaper, especially when it comes to reusable goodies. The ‘vegan tax‘ applies to products just as much as it does food, so chances are you’ll be forking out heavily for keep cups, lunch boxes and beeswax wraps if you always go store bought.

If you’re not quite DIY-savvy enough to make a reusable Christmas gift yourself, outsource to a local business. There are plenty of independent retailers flogging handmade wares on Etsy, Instagram and Facebook Marketplace, often at fairly reasonable prices. You’ll can also save by cutting out the middleman and shopping at local markets.

For the foodies in your life that take their cooking seriously, get reusable food storage bags. You can get silicone ones fairly cheap, but if you’re willing to up the budget slightly, try The Swag’s fair-trade cotton fridge bags. After all, they pay for themselves – one carrot saved from mould is one less you have to buy later.

Food waste is a significant contributor to global warming, and in Australia, 5 million tonnes of food is sent to landfill each year. Save money and planet Earth? Sign me the heck up!

Time to clean up our act.

There’s even a perfect, all-natural gift for the loneliest members of your family – houseplants! Gifts don’t get more affordable or environmentally-friendly than these tiny, green, oxygen-producing machines. Whether it’s for your newly single BFF or the weird aunt you only ever see at Christmas, a succulent or herb-growing kit is the perfect way to fill the void. Make sure they’re the responsible type though – you’re not really supposed to buy pets for Christmas, right?

Ethical gifts don’t get any cheaper than when they’re bought second-hand. Note: that doesn’t necessarily mean used. Resale sites like Gumtree abound in new-in-box potential pressies that have gone unwanted and unloved by their current owners. People who are desperate to offload are easy to haggle with, and you can sometimes save 50% or more if you’re persistent.

Some used items can still make great presents too, especially if the recipient is into nifty trinkets and antiques. Books are a fantastic Christmas gift, since loads of people make ‘reading more’ a new year’s resolution. Three pre-loved ones for the price of a shiny new copy sounds like a pretty good deal to me.

Or, if you want to take the kindness theme very literally, you could go for a classic, hands-off Christmas gift: a charity donation on behalf of the recipient. This is particularly useful for people who already have a very clear passion for a social or environmental issue.

Oxfam Unwrapped lets you buy farm animals, amenities and educational items for families in poverty (you can even buy someone a goat!) If the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is your pal’s peeve, you could buy them a bracelet from 4ocean and haul a pound of plastic from the ocean in the process.

+1000 Good Place points.

Last, but not least, some packaging advice. Gift bags and wrapping paper cost a small fortune, only to be turfed out in the yellow bin a few days after Christmas (if you’re lucky). Substitute the wasteful for the useful by delivering your gift in a reusable shopping bag. For a bit of spare change, you can get a basic tote with a cute design, but if you want to give all your gifts in the green bags lying around the house, by all means go for it!

How Long Should You Wait Before Politely Regifting A Pressie?

In which we can't all be the kid in the avocado Vine.

Bad gifts: they’re a dilemma society’s been dealing with since the first Christmas. You really mean to tell me myrrh was on fetus Jesus’ wishlist? The obvious solution is regifting, an unnecessarily taboo practice. Because what is regifting other than sharing the love around? Besides, it’s way better to give a pressie a second life than let it go to waste.

Contrary to popular belief, in most cases the best time to regift is ASAP. One, a layer of dust isn’t going to make the item(s) more appealing, and two, you’re less likely to get caught shrink wrap-handed by the relos if you can shunt the bad gift fast.

Before we get into specifics, the most crucial step is to keep a list of what you received and from whom. That way you’ll avoid giving the duds back to the people who gave them to go, and you can also throw them off your scent with ingratiating thank you cards. After all, there’s already way too much awkwardness at the family Christmas without throwing a regifting scandal into the mix.

Scenario 1: You already own the gift

This is the easiest situation to be in, because even if you are exposed you have an airtight defence. ‘It’s such a great gift that I had already bought myself one!’ is sure to appease.

Here, January/February birthdays are your salvation. Your regift will still basically be fresh off the shelf, so even if it’s tech (or anything else that goes obsolete in mere months) it can still be appreciated. And after everyone’s blown the budget over Christmas, I’m sure your new year baby pals will be thankful for anything more than a slightly sheepish greeting card.

Scenario 2: You’ll never use it

The phrase ‘it’s the thought that counts’ comes to mind. At the end of the day, there’s no such thing as a perfect gift social science even says so. There’s no need to feel guilty about being disappointed when you know it can be regifted to someone who will find it useful.

If it’s the sort of gift you can open without breaking a seal, hold off on regifting til the next time the sender swings by. We’ve all been in a funky-vase-that-Grandma-loved-but-it-doesn’t-match-the-decor situation. Invite her for a totally inconspicuous lunch in a few months and oh, would you look at that centrepiece! If it’s a clothing item, make sure you’ve gone to at least one event wearing it, snap a pic, and social it just make sure you’ve got your privacy set to ‘family only’.

If it is sealed, but not time sensitive, then keep it in your ‘spare gifts’ box. You cannot over-prepare for the moment you get a sneaky last-minute invite to a high school peer’s housewarming, and you want to avoid spending $100 on scented candles for someone you haven’t spoken to in half a decade.

Scenario 3: It’s a custom gift

There is a third, worst-case scenario: the gift is incredibly specific to you and/or custom made. I’m talking personalised mugs with your name and a Minion Quote, and the frog figurines you still get every year from your aunt, because you told her they were your favourite animals when you were 8. Look, I don’t know what to tell you bud. Sometimes you can’t even risk an op-shop without travelling interstate. Back of the closet it is!

Time to get practising your best ‘grateful gift recipient’ impression! And by that, I mean start taking some cues from the kid in the avocado Vine. Now there’s a guy who really appreciates the effort.

The 9 Types Of People You See At The Boxing Day Sales

It's like a bad-person bingo.

Boxing Day – it’s the most wonderful time of the year. For your wallet, not you personally, I mean. Crowds several thousand strong, hour long wait times at the till, stinking hot temperatures and struggling air-con. But you’ve got to weight all that against those delicious deals – after all, no pain, no $2.5 billion gain! Might want to stock up on Panadol, though.

These are the 9 types of people you see at the Boxing Day sales:

1. Frazzled middle-class mums trying desperately to make up for disappointing their terrible, spoiled kids at Christmas by buying them a brand new Xbox. Guaranteed to be the first to resort to outright violence if threatened. Bonus points if you see the kids raiding the shelves somewhere, because the mums sure as hell haven’t seen them in at least 15 minutes.

2. The ‘browser’ who can’t commit to actually buying anything, but is somehow just invested enough to be hogging the service staff’s attention. Will not stop their non-consensual game of 20 Questions for any amount of tutting, despite the 3km queue building up behind them. May also be trying to haggle with the Myer cashier because they don’t understand how sales work.

3. Teens who loiter near the escalators, preventing efficient flow between levels. Definitely the most irritating obstacle – they’re like slow walkers on steroids. They also may literally be on steroids, so unless you’re an MMA champion, don’t pick a fight.

4. The thrifty grifter who buys an entire shelf of heavily discounted products. You can only assume they plan to make bank by flogging it all on eBay later in the day – no human person needs seven coffee machines.

5. Awful husbands who stand around (usually in the middle of the aisle) loudly complaining either at or about their wives. Will target terrified Millennial men who are passing by with WOMEN, HUH?! ‘jokes’. They will laugh uncomfortably.

6. The pissed idiot who is clearly still reeling from too much festive booze on Christmas Day, and for unknown reasons decided the Boxing Day sales were still a good idea. May occasionally intersect with the previous category.

7. The Broke and the Beautiful, who will not give up even after their card has been declined four times. I’m not judging you for being broke, but check your banking app before you get to the checkout.

8. Completely impotent ‘security’ guards. Who are they kidding, there is no such thing as safety during the Boxing Day sales! It’s a lawless wasteland out there. The Purge had a lower body count.

9. Last but not least: vacant, soulless sales assistants. It’s not their fault they’re still greeting customers with ‘Good morning’ at 3 in the afternoon, they haven’t seen the sun since mid-December. Please be polite and sympathetic, because no-one else will be.

Honestly, is it even worth putting yourself through all the hassle? The 2018 sales were pretty disappointing, and Black Friday is usually better anyway. Besides, the online deals will be just as good, if not better.

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