Budget Christmas Part 2 – Merry Ishmas – Free Christmas ideas by Andy Hamilton

Holly and Ivy decoration

A couple of years ago I wrote about Selfsufficientish Christmas ideas. This year I have given Christmas my own twist and called it Ishmas.  Ishmas is sustainable and thoughtful and it is more about the person than the gift, many of the ishers celebrate Ishamas (of course).

Free Wrapping paper.

For the last few years I have not paid for wrapping paper, I have not just stolen paper either. Instead I use old magazines and Sunday supliments. This means the paper can be very individual for instance if one of your friends or relatives is celebrity obssesed you can cut out pictures of Paris Hilton, Russel Brand and Gary Coleman or if you are giving a gift to a comp uter obssesed person then you can use pictures of Apple macs or whatever, just different strokes for different folks.

You might also consider making your own paper, turn to page 376 of your selfsufficientish bible. You might also benefit from using this very easy to follow video I found on Youtube.

Mushroom paper drying on a tea towelTo make my paper I tried something a bit different and used some bracket fungus. This took a lot of blending to get right, but the basic paper making principle was the same.

Free Christmas Decoratations

This year we have not bothered to buy decorations and instead we have hung up ivy, holly and mistletoe that we have harvested from the local area.The Ivy acts as the “string” and I collected stuff the grew along the ground. I then got some green gardening string and attached some holly and some more ivy to it. I am due to go out and look for some mistletoe to add to it.

This is similar to what would have happened in ancient times here in England. A house decorated with evergreens is “prepared to to welcome the nature spirits who may be seeking safe shelter from the cold and dark outside”. Ivy is considered to protect as is mistletoe.

I think it looks so much better than conventional decorations and they can even be made into compost to help grow your holly and ivy for next year!

Free Presents

I don’t plan on spending any cash on presents this year. I am instead spending my time making them for people. Many are getting home brew and I have been making labels for each one of them.  For example, on the wine I am giving my mother it will say “Mothers Ruin” and I am printing out a picture of her holding up a wine glass.

I am also giving a collection of herbs to another friend who is into natural remedies. This will include a hop pillow made from an old shirt filled with hops and a couple of sprigs of lavender then sown up. A jar of haw jelly and a jar full of dried chamomile flower heads.

You might also consider potting up some plants that you have in your garden. Look around to what is in flower. I am giving bulbs of garlic to give to some of my friends. It does grow indoors, just don’t water it too much.

Alternatives To Presents

You might also consider giving favours to friends for Ishmas. Make a card or even scribble on the back of bit of paper that you will offer your time as a present. I am sure that you have friends that would really appreciate an evenings baby sitting, a weekend of dog walking, a meal cooked for them, the washing up done for a week or a whole host of other favours. Perhaps even a weekend talking about Gary Coleman. I know I would love someone to offer to do the washing up for a week more than any other present!

In conclusion

Christmas or Ishmas should not really be about what you get for people but it should be about how much thought you give them. Even a phone call is a better present than one Christmas card each year with a “newsletter” that is sent to 100 people saying how great things are. There is a good reason why you become friends with people it is because you like spending time with them. It might sound morbid (well it is), but I am sure there are people out there who you would go to the funeral of buy won’t see them on their birthday or at Christmas, so get in touch. Oh and Happy Ishmas EVERYONE!

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3 Comments on Budget Christmas Part 2 – Merry Ishmas – Free Christmas ideas by Andy Hamilton

  1. Wonderful ideas, Andy. I have been doing similar things for years, especially the presents (homemade food and wine). But it’s frustrating that some people still don’t consider them “real” gifts. Or they claim they don’t have the time to make gifts like that. I persevere, though! The best gift I ever gave my sister was dinner: my husband and I went to her place and made dinner (we brought all the food and wine and tidied up afterwards). We had a lovely, relaxed evening and everyone thoroughly enjoyed themselves. She really appreciated the thought and the “night out”.

  2. One year, my brother and I painted the sitting room for my dad’s Christmas present. For his birthday I dug and cleared the veg patch and planted potatoes for him. For the past two years I have made a variety of pickles and chutneys for family presents – the pickled onions are a favourite and the Fennel, Chestnut and Red Onion Chutney (I’ve lost the recipe so if anyone out there has one?)has been requested for this year. I am growing my own fennel this year too. I’m also growing beetroot for the first time especially to pickle for Christmas pressies. In June I made Elderflower Champagne from the hedgerows locally, which should be great for the Christmas hampers too.

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