Advent calendars usually mean a gorging on chocolate in the lead up to Christmas, but here at Pip we reckon this isn’t really in the true spirit of Christmas (though we won’t say no to an itty bitty bit of chocolate! We’re only human…). We all bemoan the waste of money, plastic, food and just STUFF at Christmas time, but does it have to be this way? Christmas might be the silly season, but that doesn’t have to you go to town with a celebration of capitalism. Here are some ideas to be kind to yourself, your family and mother nature with this Earth Advent Calendar.
1. Ditch the plastic tinsel and the electricity guzzling lights and go au natural with a beautiful nature wreath to spread joy and cheer in your neighbourhood this festive season. We love nature wreaths at any time of year to celebrate the seasons and create a feeling of welcome for passers-by, but at Christmas you can take it up a notch with a living succulent wreath. You can cross a Christmas tree off your list too and deck the halls with boughs of eucalyptus – bonus points if you’re coppicing it for firewood!
2. Celebrate summer solstice. Christmas most probably grew out of a pagan northern hemisphere winter solstice celebration that reminded those going through a hungry winter that spring was on the way! Down under we’re right in the middle of summer, which can be a tough time for those of us in areas prone to floods, fires & heatwaves (read: everywhere). Summer solstice comes round on December 21, so take the time to reflect on a celebrate mother earth, her rhythms and her seasons.
3. Buy local, ethical handmade gifts. Feed an artist, they make the world a more beautiful place.
4. Get in touch with an ethical farmer about your Christmas ham or grow your own table bird. It might be a bit late if you don’t have any on the go, but you can always start planning for next year!
5. Contact your local politician about people in need. Christmas is a great time to remind them not to be a scrooge, and that many biblical stories of persecution are alarmingly playing out at the hands of our government right now.
6. If you can’t find a “thing” to give someone on your Christmas list, how about buying them an experience? Check out the Pip Course Directory for a comprehensive list of wonderful places across Australia to learn wonderful things.
7. Gift yourself a day off – go for a bushwalk, spend extra time in your garden or doing something else you love. It’s a crazy time of year, take care of yourself.
8. Give stuff away. Good stuff, not garbage, on your local Rough Trade network or Freecycle group. Think about things you have that are really valuable – of course you could sell them on eBay to make an extra buck- but you could also let them go free into the world.
9. Reach out to someone who might need a pick me up at this time of year. Christmas can be a pretty daunting day for those going through tough life times, so in the lead up, practice being kind to somebody in your community who might need it.
10. Make a Christmas cake or four. Is there any better way to preserve delicious fruits? Christmas cakes basically last forever (’cause they do get eaten long before their use-by date in our house!) Having them to hand means you won’t think twice about inviting folks in for a cuppa over the holidays and won’t have to turn the oven on to bake treats so often either!
11. Get preserving! Summer is a time of bounty for many fruits and veg, and what better way to spend time with your family than putting them to work over a bubbling Fowler’s Vacola? An added bonus is that you’ll have homemade gifts a-plenty for giving.
12. Write someone a letter. Perhaps you don’t go to visit Grandma as much as you should, or someone in your world has had a particularly tough year. Getting a real-live hand addressed letter in this digital age is a pretty powerful way to connect and make someone else smile.
13. Say “no” to an end of year event that you just don’t really want to go to that much. Christmas holidays is the time for family and friends, but not the time to overload yourself with social commitments you’d rather not attend.
14. Sing. Whether it’s Christmas carols by candlelight or just a joyous impromptu family concert, singing does wonders for the soul. Think about how you could incorporate some song and dance into your silly season festivities.
15. Give any money you can spare to your favourite earth care charity. Friends of the Earth, Permafund, Australian Food Sovereignty Alliance – there are many deserving people working hard to care for our earth on the smell of an oily rag.
16. Share food in public. Join in with a community picnic, food swap, cook in a soup kitchen or hang excess homegrown produce on your fence for passers by. Food sharing connects and transforms communities!
17. Let something go. ‘Tis the season to be jolly, so why not let something small that is bothering you go? It could be a task that has been weighing you down or a grudge you have been holding. Give yourself permission to lighten your load, and lighten up!
18. Start thinking about meaningful new years resolutions. Take a look at this little musing we put together a couple of years back on how you can use permaculture principles to make better new years resolutions!
19. Reflect on kindness. Kindness comes from the word “kin” – when we are being kind we are acting as though everyone is our family. Read and reflect on what kindness means to you and how you can invite more of it into your life.
20. Make peace on earth: Do some peaceful protesting. Peace on earth starts with peaceful protest, and there are many worthy causes in this day and age. Attend a rally if you can, make a point of peacefully resisting something in your everyday life or you can always chain yourself to the Prime Minister’s House (in a totally peaceful way, of course!)
21. Plan your garden. While being “in the moment” might be all the rage, there is much to be said for taking pleasure in planning for the future! While the summer sun scorches your garden, look forward to planning your autumn plantings and cooler weather.
22. Eat something mindfully. Christmas overeating is of course a thing, but there are so many delicious delights to indulge in come December that it’s hardly surprising (figs, cherries, raspberries, peaches, apricots…. mmmm….!) In between indulging have a go at mindfully eating one of these seasonal treasures. Enjoy it slowly, savour and appreciate it fully. Give thanks. It’s a lot of fun!
23. Use a public holiday to repair something you’ve been meaning to fix all year. If you rely on weekends and public holidays to get life admin done, then set aside one of the many you get at this time of year to finish off a DIY repair project. It might be fixing the busted knees of some jeans, or giving your bike a service. The maths on repairing things is a no brainer: time + skills = saved $$ & earth resources.
24. Make the effort to listen to someone who doesn’t often get an audience. Whether it’s great uncle Con or a colleague you find difficult, just listening to someone can be a kindness that is incredibly powerful for them. You don’t have to agree with them, but actively listening to someone – especially someone you might not normally talk to- can be interesting and open your eyes to different ways of observing the world.
25. Share the love. Share this Earth Advent Calendar with someone who you think will benefit from it. Have a peaceful end of year.