The Christmas Conundrum

On the first day of christmas my true love sent to me, a lot of stuff i didn’t need!

Edward writes…

Christmas is a tricky one, a season of bright light, booze gallore and great expectations for shiney sparkley new things! 

To fit in with our ‘not buying anything new’ resolution, our approach to this commercial new-thing fest has been quite minimalist and very simple: why submit to the pressure and advertising to buy everyone new things they don’t really need (or sometimes even want!). Instead we tried to make our close friends and family presents, or to recycle presents that we were given last christmas and throughout the last year.

We have a great big present box! it is full with unwanted presents (minus the really aweful ones that have gone to the charity shop), tidied up wrapping paper to re-use and cards that can be artfully re-used.

on the subject of wrapping paper, we’ve been using our local free newspaper for the last few years, it’s free, looks great when you choose an interesting page and can be recycled!

 pickles and chutneys and jams we made.

We didn’t buy anything new for anyone this christmas, but still were able to give everyone something that they (said they!) really appreciated and could use. We made most of our presents, i suppose we have an advantage being artists, but Jenny (Emily’s sister) was also inspired this year to make everyone presents and she has no art training and has said in the past that she hates sewing… her results shown here soon!

‘Morris’ (A sock puppet elephant made by emily who features heavily in this blog) is a perfect example of our aproach to christmas; Instead of buying our two and a half year old niece something new we devoted her two hours of emily’s time turning an old wollen sock that had had a run in with a hot wash and too much exposure to my feet in to an elephant. Emily somehow managed to even crochet tusks on to it ( this remains a skill that is beyond me, but I’m determined to learn by next christmas). 

I dont know if Florence and Morris get on well, that remains to be seen!

I have to say that I love Christmas, both of us have a good relationship with our families and we spend much of our holiday with them. But it seems to me that christmas is mired in comercialism, feeding on insecurities about worth and position in the affections of others. It steals what is can otherwise be a peaceful and mystical time shared with the people we really love. It was Emily who set us both on our second hand path and my life has never been richer than it is now with the things we share. Christmas is just a time for us to share that happiness with others.

other presents we made:

paintings for various people, some in charity shop frames.

Painted eggs (our non-specific festival eggs! very confusing to Emily’s mum who thinks painted eggs are for Easter!)

Ceramic tree decorations (fired at Emily’s place of work, a perk of being ceramics technician)

A crocheted hot water bottle cover.

We also got various nice bits from the many charity shops in Stroud.

Rather than buy a cut tree (somehow now costing £20!) that will die, we bought a pot grown (not potted, these tend to have been crudely dug up with damaged roots, shoved in a pot, and are half way to being dead when you buy them!) little tree for £30 and hope it will last us many years until it gets too big for our living room!


Emily writes…

Talking about measuring worth by presents and money, i think it is a sign of our crazy society that something like an engagement ring is supposed to cost a month’s wages… as if the money spent means anything at all! Ed was reading a free newspaper on the train yesterday and noticed that the main part was all rants about the cuts: ‘how on earth are we going to afford even the basics for living any more?’ whilst the centre pages were all expensive fashion and lifestyle, a contradiction if ever there was one, and a clever one too.


Emily writes…

And here are some of the wonderful things that my sister made for Christmas!

This is her brilliant home made fuzzy felt (felt shapes cut out that can be arranged and rearranged on a felt background).

 perfect presents for children!

And this is my Christmas present…

 (not quite finished yet, should it be a birthday present?!)

 an applique owl cushion cover.

And then there are these…

Little felt heart clips.

Glued onto mini wooden clothes pegs.

Perfect for paper or clipping up artworks and cards.

Some a bit simillar feature on Jenny’s advent calendar for her two girls…

… which is made from collaged wrapping paper and old christmas cards, with folded paper pockets for little presents and a section of the Christmas story in each pocket…



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