The first weekend of December has come and gone, and just like that Christmas is just days away. The radio is playing sounds of the season all day long, lights are starting to brighten the dark winter streets across town, and the team at Genuine North have been gathering holiday inspiration, including decor, gift ideas for every budget, and new traditions that spread positive change.
We are firm believers that there is more to the season than gifts, for example … FOOD! Only kidding, although honestly, yum! We will focus on gift giving in our next post, for those still struggling to find that special something.
The spirit of this season is kindness, and giving. December is when people are most likely to give of themselves, donate what they can, forgive others, look past differences, and appreciate what it means to be blessed. With that in mind, we wanted to inspire people to start their own one-of-a-kind Christmas traditions. So we thought we would tell you about some of the ideas we have been incorporating in our own holiday traditions over the past few years.
Give gifts that Give Back
While most stores are happy to motivate you to shop there by giving the buyer something extra back, spend $100 get $25 for yourself, we love shops that give back to those in need. Shopping brands that give back year round, and operate with the earth and its people in mind. Sudsatorium is a Toronto based company who make wonderful all natural personal care items, and 5% of the proceeds from every purchase, all year round, are proudly donated to charities in need.
Give gifts that support local Artisans. You’ll find wonderful handmade gifts that fit any budget or occasion, and will be making a contribution to the local economy. Keeping a percentage of your shopping local, or as much as you can, creates a ripple affect in your area.
After our first very successful trip to the One of a Kind show in the Spring, prior to launching our site, we knew we had to head back for their Christmas show, and discover even more local makers. We were very careful to mind our budget as we shopped, and managed to come home with two armfuls of items spending under $200 for the whole lot. It was the perfect place to find one-of-a-kind items for stocking stuffers, or that special foodie twist to your regular holiday meal. There were so many great products and brands present, too many to squeeze into this post.
I especially liked the hand blown glass straws from GlassSipper. I had heard of the stainless steel straws from Oprah’s list of fav things years ago and always thought, neat idea but dang expensive and didn’t like the idea of drinking through metal all the time. The glass straws are durable, and guaranteed for life. I thought they would make a great gift for the eco-minded, person who has everything, chocolate milk drinker, rye and coke drinker, or anyone who ever drank anything.
Choosing handmade items, doesn’t mean you have to scour every Christmas bazaar and holiday market across town, or pay an arm and a leg. There are three sites we head to regularly when searching out the best North American handmade items for any occasion, the all new Amazon handmade, Etsy, and Brika. Amazon’s recent launch of “Amazon Handmade” proves that this movement back to handcrafted quality goods is here to stay. Two of our favs, which we can’t seem to mention often enough are Cate & Levi, who use reclaimed wool to create one of a kind puppets for kids, and M D Handfield Designs, who use locally sourced wood to craft toys that will last a lifetime and let your kids imagination soar.
Choose a Charity
Instead of playing the ever fun, yet somewhat pointless gift swap game at your big family or work gathering this year, taking home $20 trinkets that may end up at the back of a closet, or on kijiji the following month. Why not choose a charity, or put those funds toward something that will benefit the greater good.
Every year our family gathers at my Grandparents home, in a small city in south-western Ontario. Our holiday tradition always included, skating, big family dinner, a secret Santa style gift exchange, and a family walk through the Festival of Lights display. Last year the festival was in danger of disappearing all together as funds had run out, and the City had no back-up plan. The community came together, individuals, local businesses, and families (including ours) donated their time and money to getting the festival up and running.
Ours is a rather large family, we decided that instead of spending $15 – $20 on a secret Santa gift for each other, we would donate those funds to the Festival. Each small donation meant that more families could continue the time honored tradition, getting outside, soaking in the spirit, and being together under the lights. The Festival was always free to all to enjoy, and encouraged donations to local charities in appreciation.
We hope you’re inspired to try something different this year, start your own holiday tradition. Tell us about some of your traditions are, how do you and your family celebrate the spirit of the season. We hope you have an amazing holiday season, spread some joy, and remember we are all human. Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!