How to enjoy a slow Christmas: 5 tips for slowing down this festive season

How to enjoy a slow Christmas: 5 tips for slowing down this festive season

The most wonderful time of the year, or the most stressful?

It depends on your perspective, but there’s arguably a lot of pressure to put on the most magical Christmas, while squeezing in social and family commitments and finishing off work or academic projects before the new year.

It’s easy to get swept up in the busyness and forget to actually enjoy the festive season while you’re planning for it. And when you then inevitably start to lament that it is passing too quickly, you are no longer in the moment. You might experience something like anticipatory nostalgia, the feeling of missing something that’s not over yet. It’s quite a paradox, isn’t it?

Add to this the relentless pressure to buy and the festive season can seem altogether tiring. For a slower, conscious and more meaningful Christmas, read our tips below.

How to have a slower, more meaningful Christmas

1. Consume more consciously

Excessive consumption at Christmas is not only bad on the purse strings, it’s also a huge strain on the environment and refuse services. It’s estimated that we throw away a staggering 277,000 miles of wrapping paper each Christmas in the UK.

A great way to slow down this Christmas is to reflect on the decorations, food and gifts you’re buying and look for more considered, conscious alternatives. DIY options can also help keep costs down.

For wrapping: Remember that sticky tape and many types of glitter-topped or plastic-coated wrapping paper can’t be recycled. The rule goes that if you scrunch up the paper and it stays in a ball, you can probably recycle it. Look for FSC-certified and recycled paper, or try Furoshiki, the Japanese art of wrapping. Furoshiki is a square-shaped wrapping cloth or piece of fabric, and a method of wrapping, which avoids the need for paper altogether. The fabric can be reused, or given as a gift itself.

For gift-giving: There’s always someone who is tricky to buy for and the shops are filled with gimmicky gifts that try to solve this dilemma. Sadly, a lot of these novelty presents probably have a short lifespan and are cheaply made. Rather than throwing away money and creating more waste with such gifts, consider:

  • Will the recipient use this gift?
  • Does the recipient want this gift?
  • Does the recipient need this gift?
  • Is this gift going to last?

Second-hand secret Santa: When you don’t know your secret Santa recipient well, or simply left sorting it out until the last minute, it’s easy to pick up a novelty gift. Instead, why not float the idea of second-hand secret Santa in your group? This means that all gifts have to be pre-loved and found at charity shops or on platforms such as Facebook Marketplace. It does require a little extra thought, but it can also be a lot of fun – you never know what someone might find!

Christmas wrapping flat lay with velvet ribbon

2. Shop small for Christmas

Small business guru Holly Tucker tirelessly campaigns for consumers to shop independent. Half of the small businesses Holly and her team surveyed last year admitted they were worried about making it past Christmas. From strikes to the cost of energy, it’s another challenging festive season in retail. For a slower Christmas, head out to your local bricks and mortar independents and show your support, or support those on Etsy or Not on the High Street. Another great way to shop small is via Trouva, which is home to dozens of shops which also have a physical store somewhere in the UK.

3. Be present to savour the season

We squeeze a lot into the first three weeks of December. Office parties, meet-ups with friends, shopping, wrapping, decorating, cooking, school plays and festive days out are just the beginning. If we’re too focused on our to-do list, we miss the magic of advent and winter. Slow down for a day, or at least an afternoon, to put the to-do list aside. Watch a terrible Christmas film in PJs, take a walk and admire all the wreaths and decorations, or light a few candles and have a relaxing, hygge-style evening in, complete with a glass of something mulled to sip on.

A lot of effort goes into preparing for Christmas, yet, it often feels like the day itself is over in a flash. While no one has the superpower to slow the rate at which time passes, you can make a conscious effort to be more present during festive activities in the run up to Christmas Day and on the 25th. Ditch your phone for a while to really connect with friends and family and forget FOMO or pressure to celebrate a certain way as shown on social media.

Christmas wrapping flatlay

4. Embrace simple, slow traditions

One of our favourite slow living quotes from Leo Babauta reads, “Be a curator of your life. Slowly cut things out until you’re left only with what you love, with what’s necessary, with what makes you happy.” When it comes to Christmas commitments, this quote couldn’t be more appropriate. Slow living is about doing less, and doing those things better. So, focus on the aspects of the Christmas season that truly bring you joy. In the past, what have you particularly enjoyed and what did you need to grit your teeth for? Christmas activities, such as going for a Boxing Day walk and baking gingerbread or mince pies together, can become slow, savoured traditions that everyone looks forward to each year. Sometimes, it’s the slowest, simplest moments that make the most meaningful memories.

5. Get outdoors

And finally, don’t let the cold stop you from getting some fresh air. A clear, crisp winter day can be breathtaking. Escape into nature if you’re feeling overwhelmed with the festivities and enjoy some mindful moments. You could even forage some fresh foliage for your Christmas table, or for a handmade wreath.

Thinking about the year to come? Read our guide on how to choose a word of the year for 2023.