This afternoon sees the start of Christmas panic weekend – offices are closing, works lunches are about to be served, and the early afternoon shops are starting to brim with suited men and women looking for some way of making the last weekend before Christmas just a little bit easier. We Brits go for ethical Christmas gifts quite a bit now, but wherever you’re from the approach you can take to buying ethical gifts should be the same. Here are a few random tips and items that we have collected for you to think about today:

1) Bring your own bags.

2) Stay Christmassy! (we’re talking about having ethical fun)

3) Appreciate the value of giving different gifts, or gifts with a twist – Children and adults both like new toys too!

4) Be discerning. Take a little time to think and appreciate what you can learn about ethical retailers, about the ideas and suggestions of others, and your real wishes for Christmas cheer.

5) Don’t Panic! If you can’t manage 100% ethical christmas this year don’t let it mean you stop trying. What can you do after Christmas? Have you found ethical birthday presents too? Have you seen ethical ideas you can use every day? Can you make ethical consumption a regular thing and not just for Christmas?


When we were pitching this project to our sponsors – the AHRC – there was at that time something of a furore caused by another public body, the BBC.

Their advertising campaign for DAB radio ‘confused‘ poor viewers who couldn’t understand the simple message behind it that Christmas gifts tend to be forgotten in our everyday lives. Complaints from viewers and especially retailers made the story bigger news, involving tacit allegations of hypocrisy, as the BBC isn’t meant to advertise (and product sabotage is, after all, a method of advertisement).

One of the themes of NJfC in July was the useless Christmas present – the sort of thing that can only be worn/used/enjoyed at Christmas, yet has no chance of staying fashionable/clean/useful from year to year or even day to day. At least radio, whether new DAB sets or old transistor affairs which your dad used to use in the garden, has a chance of being useful year on year and day to day because content is replenished. Perhaps what retailers are really concerned about is that a DAB set, like your dad’s transistor set, is unlikely to be upgraded next year.

Oxfam Unwrapped

11 December, 2008

Credit Crrr-unch Christmas

10 December, 2008

We were reminded the other day of an incident last week which mixed up the two corporate messages of Christmas. The first one is ‘Keep the Christmas spirit alive by buying new gifts’. The second has a slightly new twist: ‘Save our financial year by buying big this Christmas’. This is helped by huge reductions and early seasonal sales. However, the message (despite TV spots and local bulletins) is not how we can have a frugal Christmas but how, by taking advantage of the low prices, we can buy More Things. Yes, that’s right – the credit crunch means more gifts, more packaging, more landfill waiting to happen.

Thanksgiving weekend is traditionally the time of year when stores measure the growth (or recovery) that might be promised by Christmas spending. Recovery, it seems,must come at any cost.

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