November already, soon it will be Christmas Day. 

One is unable to go into a store without being bombarded with Christmas ‘clutter’.  Decorations, placemats, cutlery, crockery, glasses and trinkets. Vibrant ‘Christmas colours’, usually made from plastic.

We are encouraged to buy Christmas gifts and decorations to help us ‘get into the Christmas Spirit.’ 

Children compile lists of things they want for Christmas, and in most families, we ask our nearest and dearest ‘What do you want for Christmas?’

Not wanting to be a Christmas Grinch, I put forward this 3 part challenge to you for 2019:

Christmas Challenge, 2019

  1. Visit your local charity/opportunity shop and buy recycled Christmas decorations instead of adding to the mountain of waste that is contributing to our planet’s demise.
  2. Challenge your family and friends to limit their spending on Christmas gifts and buy only 2nd hand gifts or home-made.
  3. Give your child or children an experience rather than another expensive gift.

Three simple things that have the potential to change the world we live in.


  1. When you spend money at your local charity or opportunity shop, the money is used to improve the lives of others. In my book, that is the ‘Christmas Spirit’ I would want to to be a part of.
  2. Buying 2nd hand goods not only saves money, but it also limits what goes to landfill. Your children are probably aware by now of Climate Change and the need to reduce our waste. 
  3. Your family will remember spending time together doing something they usually could not afford to do. Memories last far longer than the thrill of opening a gift with the latest fad device or toy.

A few suggestions to help you enthuse your family to accept this new approach to Christmas.

Action Required:

Hold a Family Meeting
Let everyone know that you are going to try something different this year.
It is important that everyone attends the meeting. A fun way to get them enthused is to put an invitation on the fridge. Younger children may enjoy decorating the notice.

Family Christmas planning meeting invittion

Before you have your meeting, talk to your kids and other family members about what family experience they would enjoy doing.
This will give you an idea of a budget you can work towards.
Help your kids write the cost of each of the items they have on their Christmas Wish List.

Meeting Agenda.  

Comparing the ‘wish list’ costs, to how much you need to make the family experience happen, is a good place to begin.

Asking extended family members to put in the money they usually spend on gifts, towards the family experience may be helpful to them as well. As a grandmother with children living far away, I find this an excellent hassle-free experience.

Suggest everyone visit a few op shops in the area. You will be amazed by the items available to purchase. The adage, ‘One man’s junk is another man’s treasure’ is very true indeed.

If you cannot find what you want in a charity shop, don’t forget to look online at sites like eBay, Gumtree, markets etc.

When you go to the op shop, be sure to take any unrequired toys and clothing in good repair. That way, others will benefit. This is a great way to encourage empathy, and will also help them realise that perhaps they do not need so much ‘stuff’ in their lives.

I volunteered at the drop-off depot to receive and sort donated items for families who had lost their homes in the Dunnally, Tasmania, fires in 2013. I was moved to tears by the children who delivered toys and clothes to help the families who had lost everything in the fires. However, I was also astonished at the mountain of unusable items that the exercise created. Please be selective in what you donate.

Three simple steps are required to climb a mountain:

  • You need to know the mountain is there
  • Take a few steps to begin
  • Keep going until you reach the top

We have a huge task ahead of us to help minimalise the amount of waste we produce. Please accept my challenge this Christmas and together we can climb the mountain.