Local food for Christmas
In the latter part of this year both my brother and I have bought a new house and my second daughter has just arrived in time for Christmas. Because of this my family decided that we should tone down the level of giving this Christmas. To be fair, between the adults we don't actually spend much money, we operate a secret Santa lottery in which each of us, my brother, step sister, our parents and our corresponding partners put our names into a hat and brokered by my brother in law (who is a Jehovah Witness so abstains from the act of giving itself) picks the names for us and let's us know who we have to buy for.
It's a reasonable system as it significantly reduces the cost of Christmas. It's main drawback is that you could have one of the poorer benefactors (namely me and my brother) meaning that you get both fewer and lower quality gifts!
This year though, because our coffers have already been emptied we decided to still do the secret Santa; but limit the amount spent to £10 and the gift had to be locally made (or packaged) food or drink.
This has turned out an excellent idea with everyone performing their festive duties more than adequately. I received some locally made beer (from http://www.flipsidebrewery.co.uk/), a Melton Mowbray pork pie and some very nice coffee (not locally made but locally packaged...). All were consumed immediately of course.
Other notable offerings were home made cheesecake and a delicious ginger drink from the Nottingham Ginger Company based in Basford (http://www.locallife.co.uk/c-n/nottingham-ginger-co-ltd-nottingham.asp). Sadly they don't have a website although I bought the drink from Fred Hallam grocers in Beeston (http://fredhallam.com/).
The other boon offered by our Christmas food scheme is the avoidance of further brick-a-brac accumulation. My wife and I have worked very hard to boil down our possessions so that only the essential items remain (give or take a box or two of classic electronic items). The onslaught of Christmas generally brings an awful amount of "stuff" with it that; at the risk of sounding unappreciative, is just not needed. I certainly don't need another book titled "The book of Dad", nor do I yearn for another scarf and hat set. Food on the other hand, once eaten, never burdens you again (apart from the inevitable trip to the toilet and the weight gained).