How To Have A Mindful Christmas

It's that time of the year: time to celebrate, rejoice, indulge...and, for many, also one of the most stressful periods. From gift-giving to meal-prepping, there are endless tasks added to many people's already overflowing calendars, alongside all of the season's celebrations. The to-do list seems to be growing by the minute, and so does the mountain of waste: the holidays are some of the most wasteful times of the year. This is why having a mindful Christmas is good for both the planet and our own well-being.

By Sascha Camilli: writer, speaker, activist, and vegan fashion expert. 

Being mindful means being present in the moment - and by choosing to act from a place of consciousness, we can tap into the true spirit of the holidays, one of kindness and union. 

Don't fall into the "occasionwear trap".

Got your eye on a dress for that Christmas party - but you know that is the only time you'll actually wear it? Be careful. Clothing that ends up unworn is often bought for a specific occasion. Choose well, and think of other occasions in your life where this garment might prove useful. Already fallen into the trap? Wear last year's holiday fashion this year again. 

Gift mindfully.

Each holiday season, over one third of people send their unwanted gifts to landfill. Make sure that your loved ones are not on that list by gifting mindfully. Be open and honest with your loved ones about what to gift them, and be truthful about the gifts you'd like to find under your own tree, to avoid becoming yet another among all the unhappy recipients who discard their unwanted gifts come January.

Choose a plant-based menu.

Eating plant-based is among the most effective things we as individuals can do to halt the worst effects of the climate crisis, as well as save countless animal lives: in the UK, 10 million turkeys are killed to end up on Christmas tables each year. And, despite most of us having grown up with meaty holiday traditions, today's plant offerings are tastier than ever. For inspiration, check out vegan recipe developer Katy Beskow's book Easy Vegan Christmas.

Kelly Sikkema Unsplash

Get creative with wrapping.

Gift wrapping is an enormous source of waste. The UK alone uses 227,000 miles of wrapping paper every year - and as a lot of it contains various plastic particles, such as glitter or laminations, it cannot be recycled. Instead of adding to the growing mountain of waste, re-use old wrappers or gift bags and boxes, or wrap your gifts in newspaper, which can add a beautiful vintage look. Or - novel thought - why wrap gifts at all? Surely it's what's inside that counts?

Don't fall prey to the holiday schedule.

December is meant to be a month of celebration, but for many people it is instead a stressful time: in addition to already present work, social and family commitments, another layer of stress is added as more get-togethers and occasions to socialise appear on the calendar. Stay mindful by carefully selecting the occasions you say yes to, and don't forget that you're meant to enjoy your commitments!

Decorate sustainably.

Holiday decorations are similar to your holiday outfits in that they are likely to only be used once a year - and just like wrapping, things like tinsel and baubles are difficult to recycle due to plastic components. But you can minimise decor-related waste by bringing out the same decorations year after year, cherishing the memories that  they carry with them. Nix the new and opt for last year's much-loved decorations this year again.

Mourad Saadi Unsplash

'Tis the season of giving back.

We're all financially stretched at this time of year - but if you can spare anything at all, donate to organisations that work on causes that you believe in. Whether it's an animal sanctuary, a women's shelter or a charity that helps the homeless, donating even a little will help someone else have a better Christmas. And donations don't need to be monetary - volunteer your time, bring a few cans of food, or send old blankets to animal shelters for bedding.

Keep your companion animals safe.

The holidays can be stressful enough for us, but for our animal companions, they can truly wreak havoc. Keep holiday sweets far out of animals' reach, and make sure to keep your four-legged friends away from decorations that could prove a choking hazard. As New Year's fireworks roll around, make sure cats and dogs are safely inside and microchipped, in case the noise startles them and causes them to run away. And don't dress animals up - while we find the costumes cute, they can impede movement and breathing, and once again, be a choking risk. Let animals be their own adorable selves.


By Sascha Camilli

About Sascha

Sascha Camilli is a vegan fashion writer, speaker and activist. Her book Vegan Style is out now on Murdoch Books. For more about Sascha, you can read our interview with her or listen to her podcast Catwalk Rebel. You can also follow her on Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn.

All images via Unsplash

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