Ho ho ho! It’s heading towards Christmas time, the decorations are going up (in the streets if not yet in our houses or churches), the shops are annoyingly playing carols – but what’s this? The economic conditions are universally gloomy. The factories of southern China are struggling to provide all those gifts we don’t need. In this climate, the ethical gift catalogues blossom, and there may be something even more fundamental stirring in churches and amongst globally aware people. Can we possibly learn to re-think our consumer-driven Christmas?
Clean water and happy auntie
Ethical gift catalogues have been around a few years now. Ther concept is simple. Instead of sending a gift that will never be used to that auntie you never see, and receiving back something equally useless, you choose an alternative gift for people who really need it. Schooling for an African child, a clean water supply for a village, …. Your auntie gets a gift card saying what has been given in her name and feels that perhaps Christmas is really a good thing, and you go away happy.
Want to take part? Here is a selection of sites offering ethical gifts.
- Present Aid from Christian Aid
- Must Have Gifts from World Vision
- Gifts in Action from ActionAid
- Oxfam Unwrapped
- Cows ‘n’ things from Age UK
- Practical Presents from Practical Action
- Inspired Gifts from Unicef
- Global Village Fair from Mothers’ Union
There are also the other kind of ethical gifts – actual gifts that are fair-trade or otherwise ethically produced (Note that many of these shops are wholly commercial rather than charities, and that DramatisDei does not endorse any of them).
- Oxfam Ethical Collection
- Ethical Superstore
- Daisy Daisy
- Natural Collection
DramatisDei does not endorse any of these and has no connection with them.
And don’t forget that probably the most earth-friendly and cheapest way to give is to buy (or acquire free!) second-hand:
I’m aware that this list is UK-centric. If you are outside the UK and have suggestions please post a comment.
Give time instead?
But perhaps we need to reconsider our whole approach to Christmas. Instead of giving different gifts, do we need to stop and think about giving our friends, family and neighbours our time rather than our money? The Advent Conspiracy think we should concentrate on giving ourselves – spending time, offering our services, making gifts, just avoiding the glitz. In their own words:
“We are asking folks to consider doing four things: Worship Jesus Fully, Consider Spending Less on gifts that are bought out of obligation, Give More relational gifts, and use a little bit of the money you didn’t spend to Love All by helping those in need.“
They have some eye-catching videos you could use to promote the idea in church.
I think it is a question of how far you feel comfortable going this Christmas. You may already have spent lots of money! But we ought to try to put a bit of magic back in our Christmas by genuinely giving love and care and compassion.