Radical Christmas: Your post-consumer holiday survival guide

It’s that time of year again.

For me the holiday season is a mixed bag. I love the cozy reindeer clad sweaters, hot toddies, snow dusted pines, time with loved ones, holiday parties, cheesy Christmas specials (especially Canadian ones), glowing lights emanating from frosty windows, and of course the food!

I love everything about the holidays except one thing– the relentless, mindless, wasteful consumerism.

The hardest part is that you are kind of stuck between a rock and a hard place. You don’t want to participate in the nonsense, but everyone expects you to. Perhaps you’ve tried to persuade your family to go gift free this year (congrats if you’ve been able to achieve this!), but in my experience there is always someone who ends up buying gifts anyway. Either way, it’s not fun trying to convince your family who are bent on a traditional Christmas to change. And let’s face it, there is nothing wrong with wanting to please someone by giving them something they will truly enjoy. The right gift feels good giving it.

But finding the right gift for some people is SO excruciating. More often than not we end up in some union busting department store or the 24 hour pharmacy on Christmas Eve buying some meaningless trinket, trend, or gift basket. You feel guilty (more crap in the landfill) and you know they won’t really like it.

So we would like to share a few ways we’ve navigated Christmas gifts in recent years. For those people who have everything or don’t need anything, for those you don’t know all that well, and for those you just don’t want to buy junk for. (OK, some shameless self-promotion below):


Everyone needs to eat and at the end of the day. Food is an especially good choice for that person you don’t know very well or the person who has everything. And you can rest easy knowing that even if it doesn’t get use it’s at least compostable!


Homemade gifts show the person that you went through an effort bigger than just shopping for them. It may be a bit more time consuming, but it will mean a lot more to you and them. There are so many things you can make, but here are a few ideas to get you started:

An Experience

Experiences can be tricky to give if you don’t know someone too well, so these sorts of gifts may be better suited for family or close friends. Do remember that some people’s schedules are busy so try to get something that does not expire or has set dates. Here’s a list of fun suggestions below.

  • Fermentation workshops gift certificates
  • Art or pottery lessons
  • Local independent restaurant gift certificates
  • Treat them to a nice Bed and Breakfast
  • Take them to a local science, nature, or art museum
  • Glow in the dark mini-put or bowling
  • Lock them up in an Escape Room!


OK, books are a material thing but they do biodegrade and are educational. If they are well chosen they will be kept around to be read or referenced for years or even generations. Here are some transformative yet practical books that inspired us towards earthbound living.

  • Radical Homemakers by Shannon Hayes
  • The Urban Homestead by Kelly Coyne, Erik Knutzen
  • Wild Fermentation by Sandor Katz
  • Gaia’s Garden by Toby Hemingway
  • Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health by Rosemary Gladstar


Last but not least is what the true meaning of Christmas is all about – charity! Of course the charity you choose will largely be based on the person you are giving a donation on behalf of. We like to choose local charities to support our community. If you can’t find a giving program on their website, just give them a call or send an email. Most will be happy to send an acknowledgment card to the recipient and probably send you a tax receipt.

Let sanity prevail

We hope this list helps you get through the holiday season or any other occasion where giving is the cultural norm. Support your community by supporting local businesses.

Happy Holidays,

Corrie, Ron, Freckles, Willa, Betty, and about 550 000 clustered bees