Wednesday, 20 August 2008

The Festive Opportunist: never too early to plan

Slap me round the face with a wet fish if this was just a bit too cheeky...

To me, it's careful planning. To others it might feel a tad premature. But on Monday this little old Festive Opportunist struck lucky...and the best bit is it's only August.

I feel like I've beaten the High Street at its own game just before the Christmas cards hit the shops in September. That's just a couple of weeks time, you'll start to see stores everywhere being feng shui'd and rearranged to entice you to start early with gift packs, cards and wrapping.

But this year I've crept up behind them with a boo!

It'll be no surprise that I'm aiming for a minimal waste Christmas...and if I'm going to succeed I need to get cracking. I'm going to have to be as creative as a cuckoo in a magpie's nest.

I've got four months to minimise as many excessive accessories as I can, whilst showing our friends and family that we still love, cherish and appreciate them perhaps even more than ever. It's going to be a tough one since most of our close family live in Wales, Scotland, Bristol and Switzerland and our friends are dotted around far and wide too.

Oh gee, what have I let myself in for? ... hopefully loads of fun and more cash in the pocket if it all goes to plan.

And it's kicked off with the most fabulous start, with a friend from Bedfordshire popping over for a rare visit with her two kids.

Imagine the scene...rainy day, small house and four boys, aged 4-6.

...friend wants a tour of Bury St Edmunds.

...[sub-text...friend would like to browse the town's beautiful independent shops]...

We pile into town, decide to settle in a cafe that also does pottery painting....

We enjoy coffee...the kids paint pottery...

My friend thinks it's lovely...

I pose the killer question...

"Do you mind if I make this an early Christmas present?"

I pause and worry she'll think I'm crackers. My time-check tells me it's still August.

But what a relief!

She thinks it's a great idea...I'm glad there's no packaging...the kids are just happy to have had a fun time. I've even saved money on wrapping paper and postage.

They won't miss one less present at Christmas. What's more special is that we had a great experience we shared in the cafe, the memories of which that will remain.

It think I've hit on the trick there...spreading Christmas across the year through shared experiences, with time to give creative personal gifts instead of buying all that Crimbo clutter. My friends will now be shaking in their shoes at the thought of what I'll be doing with those jam jars.

With careful planning I hope to enjoy the festive period as simply as we can, with carefully chosen food, carols and trips to the seaside.

I know, I know...I talk about Christmas in August and visit the seaside in December.

I'm about as unseasonal as snow in May.



Anonymous said...

A woman after my own heart. Only last night, I too was thinking about the 'C' word.

Mine's more from a 'control freak' perspective, but certainly with the zero waste lifestyle, plans need to be made well in advance.

Your day in the cafe painting pottery sounds wonderful. Quality time spent together and memories are zero waste gifts that last for ever.......

Anonymous said...

Hi Mrs A,

I have been beating the drum for sustainable packaging for food. Christmas shopping usually creates similar amounts of waste. Maybe there should be sustainable choices for Christmas shoppers.

Alternative presents are a good way to avoid the packaging issue. I give cheques to all my connections. But that would not suit everybody.

katyboo1 said...

Already done that! Blogged about christmas last week :) Horrified to find NT stocking crimble cards in their shop already.

My friend and I give each other theatre trips for christmas and birthdays. It works wonderfully and we've been to see some fabulous things. Experiences really are the best gift. I bought my husband a day at spy training camp learning to use a 'shooter' out of a moving car window as a wedding present!

Almost Mrs Average said...

Hi Mrs G - I've found that in recent years Christmas has just become more stressful by the year. The worst year was the one before last when I just got to the Post Office in time on the last postal date, after staying up beyond midnight wrapping about 20 presents. That didn't even include the ones for local friends. I remember then that it felt like madness, with not just wrapping paper , but parcel paper, jiffy bags and the cost of postage. I think this will be a better year....I hope. The cafe is really great and sounds like it would be up little Miss G's street if you're ever over this way, we should give it a go :-D

Hi John - there are so many changes that could help reduce Christmas waste. We often get cheques from relatives and these are becoming more and more welcome over the years. But I also love get-togethers and just sharing time to catch up with people I haven't seen for ages. :-D

Hi Katy - what! NT stocking Christmas cards already...that's shocking. I love the idea of Theatre Trips, how lovely...I can see that taking off in my circle. What a fun idea for your husband. I hope he calmed down by the time he got home :-D

Strawberry Jam Anne said...

Mrs A - what a fabulous idea - thank you.

I did see Christmas cards on sale along our High Street last week and thought - "here we go again"! They were at reduced prices but really! I know the weather is darn near wintry but it is still only August.

E-cards are one answer and there are some beauties to be found! I did a bit of that last year.

A x

Anonymous said...

Karen, thanks so much for coming in. I know we were a bit busy, but I hope that you were able to relax a while the children were engrossed in their creations!! I'm going to design a poster to advertise the reduced-rubbish Christmas idea!

Welsh Girl said...

If you have very understanding friends you can do the Oxfam presents where you give a goat to a village, or a well, or a sleeping bag (if it's somewhere cold I suppose).....

When we were children we used to make papier mache animals for presents (unfortunate for recepients you could argue unless they were doting aunts / uncls / grandparents blind to lack of artistic ability). Good use of recycling stuff though....

Jo Beaufoix said...

That's so funny and so fabulous. You amaze me. I'm caught up now and I've pre-registered for Tracey's book. Cant wait to do that for yours. :D

Lucy Carlyle said...

You'll be glad to know that I have decided to host a Jam-making session at my house in November for my girlfriends. The idea being that we all make jam and have a great time in the process and then swap our masterpieces as Christmas gifts. I hope I get round to this wonderful idea....I usually end up writing my Christmas cards which I buy in August on December 23rd!!!

Almost Mrs Average said...

Hi Anne - on no, they've hit the high st already...even before the Back To School ends...that is naughty! Fab idea about the e-cards. Thank you. They are fantastic aren't they? I sent a couple last year too. They are also great for birthdays, perfect for people like me who end up sending cards on the birthday itself. At least this way they always get there in time and you get the fun of the animation ;-D

Hi Jo - thank you so much for popping by. You really do have a fab place there. I hope you won't mind me telling people where you if anyone is in the vicinity of Bury St Edmunds they can pop in.

It's Coffee 'n' Kids, in Langton Place, Bury St Edmunds.

Great idea about the posters. That's fab!

Hi Welsh Girl - Fab idea about the Oxfam pressies. I got something similar from a friend last year, which was brilliant. But you've brought up the most important point there, you have to make sure your friends understand and it's their kind of thing. LOL at the papier maches stuff, that's given me an idea...and what a great way of recycling that newspaper ;-D

Hi Jo - fab news you've pre-registered for Tracey's book. That's brilliant, she'll be dead chuffed. Won't be long now and you will soon get your hands on a copy. How's Stinky Simon by the way :-D x

Hi Dorothy - What a great surprise. I know you've been lurking in the welcome to the Salon! What a great idea about making Jam, I'd love to do that. I've been inspired recently by Strawberry Jam Anne's account of her plans, but as I mentioned on her's too scary for me to even contemplate, but a bit of team effort would go a long way in building that old confidence. :-D x

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