This time of year it’s easy to get stressed and to spend money we don’t have as we rush to get ready for dinners, gifts, and visitors. But apply some of these values of the local food movement to your plans, and you’ll find that you can have a more relaxing, creative, joyful, and community-based holiday season this year.
Keep things simple:
Just like when making delicious food, keep things simple when planning for the holidays. The best recipes aren’t over-complicated or stressful; they’re the tried-and -true ones that are enjoyable to make. Do the things you really want to do, and try to have full, flavourful experiences, rather than running yourself ragged with too much on the go.
In the spirit of living sustainably, you can make things yourself over the holidays. Instead of getting trapped in a mall, stay home and relax while making new cards by cutting up last year’s cards, or get together with friends for a DIY night and some visiting. Spend a few hours making decorations or baking along with your children. Try having a Recycled Christmas by turning household things into new surprises and giving them in homemade stockings. Give gifts that help others to do-it-themselves too! Like a kit you have put together for growing a kitchen herb-box, or registration in a cooking class at a local community centre. Make a coupon book that promises friends help with their gardens in the summer and harvesting in the fall. Layer all the dry ingredients for a favourite recipe in a glass jar and give that as a gift to foodie friends.
Support local people:
Does your town have a community garden, a community kitchen, a farmers’ market, a food bank or other local food group? Make a donation to those organizations in someone’s name so that your gifts last long after the holidays. Support local vendors and businesses when making purchases. One of the nice things about doing this is that you can make going out shopping into a fun holiday excursion, rather than a painful experience. If you’ve been meaning to visit with someone, why not go for hot chocolate at a craft sale or a holiday farmers’ market together and pick up gifts at the same time. People who work or live out-of-province will especially enjoy local gifts that link them to home.
Keep it green:
Along with all the shopping and rushing about comes loads of unnecessary garbage going to landfills and cluttering your house. If you're an eco-minded person the rest of the year, you probably don't want to throw those ideas out the window over the holidays. Lots of good intentions get lost in the mad dash of the holidays but you can save money and feel good about having a greener holiday this year by giving gifts that are edible or grow, by using recycled materials to make gifts and to wrap them, and by making decorations from creative materials around the house. Also try sharing experiences as gifts instead of giving material objects, like promising a back rub, a snow fort building afternoon, or help taking down Christmas lights.
Share and exchange resources:
Instead of buying everyone in your family a store-bought gift, have a homemade ‘secret santa’ exchange and put your energy into making one really nice present for the lucky recipient. With your co-workers, do a food exchange where everyone brings enough to swap around; try trading baked goods, preserves or freezer-friendly appetizers. You may be able to leave with all of your holiday treats ready to go after only making one kind yourself. Host dinners as potlucks instead of spending all day making food on your own, you’ll have more time to enjoy people’s company and won’t be so worn out when they arrive.
Newfoundland and Labrador has an incredibly rich local food heritage and our ancestors, not very far back on the family trees, managed to have beautiful holiday celebrations without all the spending and running around that we do now. Try to remember what the holidays mean to you and get back to those experiences. Is it the taste of special recipes passed down through the family, your whole clan crammed in the kitchen laughing together, dressing up as a mummer, decorating a tree, going for long-overdue visits, walking along favourite trails? Whatever the holidays mean to you, spend your time celebrating those things.
Let the local food movement inspire you to create fantastic holiday memories this year. Season’s greetings from the Food Security Network of Newfoundland and Labrador and Root Cellars Rock!