I completely empathise with Christmas panic buying because that has been my default for years…

By October certain members of my family (everyone has them) have wrapped up all their presents and I’m like – “Christmas is ages away. I have loads of time. 

I always mean to give myself time to get really personal presents. But the next time I look up it’s mid December and that’s all gone out the window. I then start to make some half-hearted moved towards present buying in my lunch breaks, buy two presents and feel like I’m half-way there and relax. 

Then suddenly it’s Christmas week and I’m totally panicking and can’t believe that I’ve left it to the last minute again, even though I promised myself last year that it was far too stressful.

I’ll literally run through the local shopping centre in desperate hope that inspiration will strike and I’d find myself picking up random objects and asking myself “will this do”? Will I get away with this. Everyone loves a scented candle? Right?


Because I’ve left no time to think or look properly, I end up buying something generic. But because it feel a little bit crap, I end up “topping up” this gift with another present. So my loved one ends up with two generic things. And suddenly I’m spending way more than I meant to out of guilt!

I end up leaving myself open the novelty gift trap because at least if it’s not meaningful, we can laugh about how crap it is. No matter if they’ll never use it. It’s funny, Right?


It gets to Christmas eve and I realise that a cousin I didn’t know would be coming is now going to be popping by and I have nothing to give them! I end up looking at my own possessions, feverishly wondering what I can wrap up. 

This has been my reality for years. It means I end up spending more, buying wastefully, buying things that people may not want to keep and the products may be inferior in quality and sustainability because I’m limited by what can be found in the shopping centre or next day delivery. 

But this year, it will be different. 

Inspired by my book, A Life Less Throwaway, I have my mindful curation plan for gifting. This is to ensure that I buy gifts that will be truly appreciated and used in the long term rather than simply another product in someone’s house.

Here are my 12 rules of Christmas,


1) “On-the first week of November....” write a list of everyone who needs to be recognised this Christmas in some way.

2) Try to get that list down - lots of people coming over over xmas week - suggest a secret santa!

3) What do you get someone who has everything? NOT another thing - with these types of people, plan an experience. If you think you might want to make a present, now is the time to get knitting / designing / carving or filming. 

 4) Ask your list for the area they might need something new.  Craft items, tools for a particular hobby, household goods, or clothing. If they don’t give you an area, choose an area that you feel confident buying in – write down the area you’re planning on going for next to each person. Aim to have an area written down by 2nd week of November. 

5) In the 2nd week of November - get nosey to get a sense of their taste in that area. This might involve quick calls to spouses, or inviting yourself over. By the next week you should have 1-2 present ideas for each person. Think particularly about things that they might use or keep well into the long term. 

6) List your budget per person - this will help you choose which shops you go to. Shops like BuyMeOnce work well for this because we cover many product categories, but you can still shop for individual values and personalities. By the end of the week you should have something that looks like this:

Person  Area Idea Budget Bought Wrapped?
Husband Decor Personalised movie poster  Yes
Mum Experience Golf + Tea
Dad Experience Flying lesson Yes
Granny Clothing Make cashmere handwarmers

 7)  On 3rd week of Nov, check delivery times from those shops and order anything personalised. 

8)  Block out shopping time. Put it in the calendar. If the weekends are busy, consider taking a half day off to get it all done at once. Remember to shop by the values that you hold dear, whether its sustainability, ethical production, exquisite quality or local goods. 

9) While you’re shopping, pick up some nice local edible gifts to give to people who turn up unexpectedly or you suddenly remember.

10) Don’t forget to pick up wrapping while you shop. We suggest reusable wrapping like Wrag Wrap, pretty fabric, or scarfs. If you must use paper, us recycled and recyclable paper. You can tell if it’s recyclable paper because it’s usually not shiny.

11)  By the 2nd week of December you should be all wrapped up. Time to crack out the mince pies and watch Elf again!

12)  Always include the gift receipt if you can. £700 million of unwanted gifts are given each year – you don’t want yours to be one of them.

So those are my 12 rules of Christmas Gift Buying and they come from the belief that a gift should be for life, not just for Christmas. We’re here to help people buy mindfully and find lovely, sustainable things that people can love for a lifetime. 

Good luck and have and awesome Christmas. You can shop at the BuyMeOnce Conscious Christmas shop here.

X Tara



November 15, 2019 — Tara Button