Thoughts on a less material Christmas

Article first published in Cornwall Today.

You might be concerned about the effect clutter has on our personal and planetary wellbeing, but that doesn’t mean you can’t give and receive generously this Christmas.

Letting our thoughts turn to Christmas at this time allows us to consider the meaning of gifting,  so we don’t make rash decisions at the last minute, spending too much money with too little care.

The popularity of Marie Kondo’s books and tv programmes about the “life-changing magic of tidying” and the upsurge of preloved, sustainable and handmade items are symptoms of a sea-change in our culture: we’re fed-up with accumulating piles of things. Today, we crave fewer, more valued things - and that value doesn’t have anything to do with money.

I’d like to suggest two things: the first in that you think about what you would most like to receive from the people you love this Christmas; and the second is that you consider doing something altruistic with your money, instead of giving it to people who don’t need or even want it.

Most of us, when we search our feelings, get the most joy from doing things we love with people we love. Surely if the thing we most want to receive is the gift of other peoples’ time, this is what we should give?

Your gift might take the form of a simple day out, a trip to the theatre or a home-cooked meal shared together. It could be a plant we’ve nurtured and potted just for them; a batch of their favourite biscuits; or a handcrafted object. In these hectic days, the gift of time spent doing something meaningful and valued makes both the giver and receiver richer.

I realise this is easy to write but more difficult to cultivate. How will your loved-one react when you give them a pot-plant instead of a Playstation; and how will you tell them that you’d have preferred the pot-plant?!

It all comes down to an honest conversation based on your choice to give up the chronic ongoing pain of giving and receiving richly at Christmas, only to be left feeling spiritually poor. Instead, you’re choosing an acute but temporary discomfort of saying, “I’d prefer to be wealthy and healthy than rich. Please give me your time, not your money, and allow me to do the same for you.”  

This December, we’ll be throwing the doors of Lifetime open and welcoming you in to spend money altruistically on beautiful handmade gifts. Every penny we make at these events - part of Truro’s late-night shopping nights on the 27th November and the 4th December -  will go to Counselling for Social Change, enabling you to give doubly this Christmas. To find out more, please visit: 

As always, if we can support you with any of the issues raised here or other thoughts, situations or behaviours that are affecting your mental wellbeing, do get in touch with me at

Best wishes, Malachy