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A Recycled Christmas

December 1, 2013

A Recycled Christmas

By Kate Hill


It’s nearing the time to be merry and most of us are already Christmas shopping or just dreading the thought of spending all that money. A select few have proudly boasted that their Christmas shopping was completed in October…thanks for making the rest of us feel lazy and disorganised.


The economic downturn doesn’t seem to have slowed many of us from buying brand new, expensive gifts for loved ones at Christmas, probably on credit. For the past 12 years, I’ve been a culprit of going to the shopping centre and piling my basket up with gifts I think people ‘might’ like. Since having two children and adopting a mortgage, I’ve had to alter my thought processes because casual Christmas shopping is not affordable. I’ve had to become a ‘mindful’ shopper.


I watched a brilliant programme, The Twelve Saves of Christmas on ITV a couple of weeks ago (12th November 2013) presented by Martin Lewis – the ‘Money Saving Expert’ (love that guy) – about how much money we waste on buying expensive presents because we feel compelled to do so. It reminds me of the resentment I’ve felt in Christmases gone by, after buying an overpriced wash set for a family member and watching them smile and say a blank ‘thank you,’ before throwing it onto a side pile of other pointless presents. The programme also pointed out that there are savings to be had and discounts to be taken advantage of if we wait for certain dates before shopping; why pay more when you can pay less? An excellent point!


This article doesn’t focus on buying new items at discounted prices (which is great if you can keep up with it all) but on how to have a recycled Christmas – how to have a traditional Christmas, re-using, re-selling and re-creating genuine happiness out of the simplicity of what we as children loved about Christmas.


I heard a story last week about how as a child, a friend of mine had been given a used Star Wars set for Christmas from a neighbour. He explained that instead of being worried about playing with something brand-new, he loved it and played with it so much it had formed a huge part of his childhood memories. Why buy presents for our children if we are scared of them playing with (and breaking) them?


This year, I’ve tested my hypothesis that a recycled Christmas is a happier one. Christmas is not about perfection, it’s about happiness. I’ve been dreading opening up brand new presents from family members, feeling like my presents in return wouldn’t compare due to our less fortunate position. I’ve worried about my little boy (who’s 3 on New Year’s Day), getting cheap, tacky presents from me that would break after a day of play.


So, instead of worrying, the solution for our family is a recycled Christmas. My son has a huge love of Disney Pixar Cars characters; the diecast models are clearly the best and worth the most. Instead of forking out for brand new, packaged characters (some of which I’d pay upwards of £30 each for), I’ve opted for putting bids in on eBay for used, played-with toys. I’ve just received a large collection that brand new would’ve cost over £150 for £26. They have a few scuffs and scrapes on them but my son won’t even notice. All he will see is the familiar characters that he bases his imaginative world around and I can’t wait to see the giddy excitement in his eyes. Secondary, is the fact that I don’t have to worry about him taking them outside to play. He’ll have more fun, I’ll not worry so will ultimately have more fun.


You may ask how I’ve funded spending £26 on model cars. Recycling of course! Selling unwanted Christmas presents and household items from over the years – having a good clear out and organising all the junk that might be another person’s treasure. Turns out you’ll have plenty of items that may be useless to you but worth something to someone else. I’ve just sold a travel cot bag on its own without a travel cot inside it because someone obviously needed one and couldn’t afford to buy a whole new travel cot. It’s about looking at what you’ve got and thinking whether someone else might use it. Toys aren’t the only items to which the ‘A Recycled Christmas’ rule applies.


What might others want/what could you buy?


The Little Boy’s Dream Gift – Cars the movie Dinoco collection – used.


  • Reclaimed stone & bricks
  • Old fireplaces
  • Old kitchen units
  • Used toys & clothes
  • Packs of Nappies
  • Man and a Van
  • Timber
  • Lighting
  • Cleaning products
  • Party products
  • Used bags, shoes & coats
  • Wash products (new) i.e. Christmas presents bought but not wanted.
  • Perfume & Aftershave – used & new.
  • Furniture
  • Stationery
  • Cars
  • Car accessories
  • DVD’s & Games
  • Outdoor Items
  • Pet care items
  • Healthcare items (excluding tablets & medication)
  • Antiques, historical items & books


Where to buy and sell


Many people have a pre-conceived idea that only new fashion and electrical goods can be sold on buying and selling sites. In fact, millions of people flock to the big sites like eBay to find any items that they need but that they can buy cheaper than new. But these sites aren’t the only place to go to buy and sell. Here are a few other tips about where to buy and sell:         


Local Facebook Wanted, For Sale Groups

Local Discussion Forums & Community Websites





The most positive outcomes of having ‘A Recycled Christmas’ for your family is that you’re helping to reduce the post-Christmas landfill, saving the earth’s resources and saving your own money. Why constantly buy new when the world is full of items that others don’t want that may be on your wish list? Yes, we all need to buy new sometimes to keep the economy going, we just don’t have to pay so much to get what we need.


Recycling at Christmas for the community too


If you have pointless presents tucked away, ready to wrap, there are appeals like Hallam FM’s ‘Mission Christmas’ where in Sheffield, we’re asked to buy an extra new present for a child in the area who wouldn’t otherwise receive anything during the festive season. If you’ve overbought on food shopping, local food banks are under increasing pressure at this time of year to help families who can’t afford basic food, tins and many packaged goods can be dropped of there. Local charities are always happy to receive quality items to sell in their shops if you don’t necessarily need the re-sell money. 


By enjoying a more traditional Christmas where presents were passed down, recycled and only given to those in need, surely we’re moving away from the consumer-driven Christmas rush and re-aligning ourselves with what Christmas should mean to all of us. Thinking of others, watching the children’s happy faces while they play and not stressing about money or what we’ve bought for others.


Wishing you and your family a Happy, Recycled Christmas!


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