The celebration of Christ’s birth has now become a huge commercialised event in the calendar, the true meaning diluted amongst the mass of publicity, hype, decorations, lights and glitter. As usual we are following the USA where Christmas is a holiday season, where parties happen vast amounts of food is eaten and millions spent on gifts and cards.  I like to think of Christmas as a special time of year where I think of family and friends and I send lots of Christmas cards.  I enjoy decorating the inside of my house and my husband goes to town on the outside.

Our house last Christmas

Our house is well known around the village and admired by neighbours and friends.  I usually collect for charity and have a “Switch On” with mulled wine and mince pies for some friends.  I wasn’t keen on all of this to start with but now I see it as harmless fun and it helps me get in a Christmassy mood.

This year it’s my turn to hos the family Christmas meal, this means having 11 people round for a meal. My sisters help with providing a dish they have made but it still ends up loads of work!

My husband is into presents (you may remember from the “Best Present Post” so Christmas morning is lovely. My son is still really excited opening his gifts so that is great. Our cats each get stockings with a few cat treats. Our house is not environmentally friendly!

I usually make up a quiz for Christmas day and get into teams to get the highest score  (there is so much cheating!). I usually have a few more games in store and most of us take part and have a laugh. I just about forgot to mention the walk we go for  after the meal as we are all so stuffed and need some air too. I’m always sad to see the end of Christmas day as it’s a special day I spend with my closest family and a rare day when we are all together.

As far as shopping is concerned it seems that we now live in a disposable world. Things are rarely repaired, instead a new replacement is bought.  Life is so different now than when I was a teenager.  Clothes in particular seem cheaper than ever in relation to income.  To make your own clothes used to be a cheaper option and a way to get affordable fashionable stuff but now clothes can be bought ridiculously cheaply but the quality is not good and the stores are so bad to shop in. I like shopping but I’m rarely impressed by the service. I especially like small individual shops where there’s less hassle and a more personal service and more interesting individual goods.  I hate supermarket shopping and will avoid it at all costs. The bigger the supermarket the more I hate it. I hate the time it takes me to buy food, the money I have to spend and the whole experience. It’s as if something takes over when you are in one, you switch into a mode where you are enticed to buy stuff you don’t need like multi packs when you only need to buy one of the thing. I don’t imagine this experience will change for the better unless people stop shopping for food and find alternative markets or sources to buy from. This must be an opportunity for the designer to step in.  It’s only recently that I have found a wee fruit and veg shop, I  think there is only one in the whole of Dundee, amazing really but everyone seems to want to buy in bulk at prices they think are cheap. I buy from small local shops when I can e.g. fruit and veg, bakers, butchers and gift shops.  I would rather give these small businesses my custom and live in a place with a variety of good small shops than a place where my choice is taken away from me and I’m forced to by a supermarket brand.

After watching the Panorama film about “Tweenagers” I feel that the situation hasn’t changed much since it was made several years ago where two of the children are heavily into their labels.  My son is of a similar age and is influenced by advertising and labels.  It is amazing how young children are when they begin to be influenced by advertising. My son could recognise the McDonalds sign at the age of two. (the “M” is one of the letters of his name and he spotted it from the sign from car and recognised it on TV). I do my best not to give in to buying “labels” and a compromise of some kind takes place. I felt a bit sorry for the mum in the film as she gave everything to her daughter no matter the cost.   It’s not easy being a parent and always saying no, and sometimes I give in to things.  I feel that it’s better to teach what is really important in life and not just the surface material things that will be quickly forgotten when the next new trend kicks in. Advertising certainly has a big part to play in all of this.  I don’t believe home schooling is the answer to avoiding peer pressure as the parents in the film did, however, I can sympathise when children are bullied and understand the importance of fitting in.
As a designer I hope to be able to make things that people will value and treasure, that the jewellery will hold a special meaning to the owner. I’m sure this will be a real challenge as the mass market seem to want a quick fix as far as jewellery is concerned, popping earrings and necklaces into their trolleys alongside their weekly shop.

So if you can, in the New Year, support your local shops and craft makers and ditch the supermarkets as much as possible. Roll on 2011.


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