12 Dec 2018
I used to love giving and receiving Christmas cards. As a child it was my annual job to painstakingly blu-tack them all to our hallway bannisters (other sticky tacks are available), competing against myself every year to see how high up they’d go, watching the trends come and go, seeing how many duplicates we’d get. It marked the start of Christmas… and the end of it, as I **gently**pulled them down and tried to avoid ripping off the paint! (Sorry mum. It is only now that I have my own home I appreciate the consequences of not ‘being more careful.’)
This year, with a 9 year old daughter, who is more aware of environmental issues than we ever were as kids, I’ve been **gently** reminded of the ecological impacts of my card giving tradition. I’ve reluctantly agreed to cut back and only send cards to a handful of people who will really value them such as older people that may not get much post or those relatives that we don’t see very often. We have handmade all our cards and while I don’t think we’ll win any prizes for art any time soon, it’s made them much more personal. Add in the fact there’s less plastic wrapping, less shiny card that can’t be recycled, less time spent writing minimal meaningless messages and less postage costs and the plus points are building up. We’ve also spent more time together doing something creative, thought more about the designs and words and although our endeavours won’t save the world, I do hope they’ve made a tiny little bit of difference.
I’ve followed this idea through in my work life and instead of sending corporate gifts and cards to clients, I’ve decided to support a brilliant project called Present from a Stranger, dreamed up by friend, colleague and talented artist, Kat Prior. Kat has been running PFAS for the last 5 years and when she told me about it, I instantly knew I had to be involved.
So what’s it all about?
We have handmade cards and filled them with £5 gifts, handing them out in the street to random people – A present from a stranger. The idea is to spread a little bit of happiness at Christmas and make people smile. There is no catch and no obligation. We are simply hoping to bring a little bit of joy into people’s lives. Christmas can be a difficult time for many. The financial struggle, the stress of creating a ‘perfect’ Christmas, missing loved ones that are no longer with us. By giving out the cards we hope to spread a little kindness and good cheer. What the individuals do with the money is up to them. They can treat themselves to a hot drink or a little luxury, they can spend it on a bus fare to visit someone they love, they can give it away to someone less fortunate themselves or they can buy a present for a friend… the options are endless and part of the present is the gift of deciding what to do with it.
We are asking people to let us know how they used their present from a stranger and comments will be shared on www.presentfromastranger.uk
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!