10 December 2013

Get ready for Christmas - give something away

I have decided it is time to initiate a new family custom around times of receiving gifts - birthdays and Christmas: give something away in preparation.

Tyson and I had a go at giving away some of our books. We are book-lovers and book-hoarders, so this was quite a challenge! They are destined for charity - most likely Save the Children. (Their annual book sale at UWA raises upward of $250,000 for their work, and they now have a permanent second-hand book shop at Belmont Forum, which is near to us)

I packaged up a box of baby clothes for a friend who is expecting a third child... having given away all their baby things after the second child got beyond baby.

And I asked Eva and Edan to give away one toy each. (OK, I did this on Edan's behalf, as he is too little to understand). We have one-year-old and four-year-old birthday parties to attend this week, so rather than buy gifts our children have selected something of their own. In good condition, of course, and it had to be something they had enjoyed and played with, not a 'reject'.

Not for giveaway! But he does love climbing into boxes... and everything else...
I am hoping that this can become a family practice - the new normal - and that both we and our children might learn to let go of stuff and live with less. And to appreciate the new things all the more.

We are also preparing with this lovely Advent calendar from my sister in PNG
Initial Time: About an hour going through the bookshelves and baby clothes

 Initial Cost: Zero

Ongoing time or cost commitment: Five times a year we do it again - four birthdays and Christmas. I anticipate the time commitment will vary depending on what sort of stuff we turn our eyes to. At birthdays only the birthday person will be looking for something to give away.

Impact: None of the items leaving the house this way would have gone to landfill. Never. Not on my watch. But I understand that in other homes baby clothes, books and outgrown toys DO join the mountains of landfill our culture produces.

I am aiming for more intangible impacts of generosity, lightness of ownership, reducing my propensity to hoard, and gratitude for what we keep.

For other Christmas ideas, see my two posts from last year.

Post Script update: I thought we were pretty bold getting the kids to give away one thing each - until I had a cuppa with my friend who had got her kids to give away one toy each... EACH DAY through December, as their lead-up to Christmas. Her kids are five and nearly eight and they managed it just fine.