Posts Tagged ‘Christmas’

It’s Christmas, time to put the tinfoil antlers on the camel

Thursday, December 6th, 2012

Tinfoil reindeer antlers

Other perhaps some other pagan holiday options? Perhaps we could consider Saturnalia. Or, if it must be organized religion, then the Flying Spaghetti Monster whose mockery-loving followers are known as Pastafarians. “Around the time of Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa, Pastafarians celebrate a vaguely defined holiday named “Holiday.”

That last line is perennially funny to me. It’s a new winter tradition.

Christmas 2006

Whatever you do, happy winter holiday, everyone. And consider the reindeer. They may not be with us that much longer, and Santa’s North Pole appears to be melting.

PS in this long warlike year of intolerance on the part of organized religions, Stephen Fry at 07:17

Buy Nothing Day

Friday, November 23rd, 2012

Buy Nothing Day was launched by Vancouver’s Adbusters Magazine.

“The journey towards a sane sustainable future begins with a single step. It could all start with a personal challenge, such as this: make a vow to yourself to participate in Buy Nothing Day this year. This November 23rd, go cold turkey on consumption for 24 hours … see what happens … you just might have an unexpected, emancipatory epiphany! … Join millions of us in over 60 countries on November 23/24 and see what it feels like. Then, after Buy Nothing Day, take the next step … for generations, Christmas has been hijacked by commercial forces … this year, let’s take it back.”

My extended family did a Christmas like this a few times. My nephews were 6 and 7 years old the first time. You had to make all presents with things you found, and nothing could be bought. No bought wrapping paper either–everything had to be recycled. These are the best Christmases we ever had. Inventive, hilarious and fun.

I’m not sure that personal choice alone is going to effectively challenge consumer capitalism, but it’s worth a try. North America’s profligate spending and wastefulness is truly repellent.

Also, from a design standpoint, departing from consumerism produces the happy result of automatically creating better design. Every time. At the risk of stating the obvious, our anti-consumerist design/gift guidelines could be:

• Less is more. This is almost always true.
• Buy less and when you do buy, buy items of significantly high quality, items you’ll never tire of and that will improve with age. The expenditure is worth it, and in the end you’ll find this has actually cost you the same or less than the sum of many cheap expenditures.
• Nothing substitutes for the handmade
• Artisanal, high-quality, local production from carefully chosen materials can be far better-looking than factory-produced brand name goods or furniture (but some artisans have to stop adding busy, funky, weird detailing to everything. (3 different woods/materials in one table; curlicues.) Awkward aesthetics are wasteful too–we tire of them, so they work against longevity).
• If you must buy new, try to buy mostly things made/grown in your own town/region/country.
• Use found objects. Items with some history bring some humanity with them. So many spaces are utterly dead because they lack the marks of  their natural origins, or of the human hand, history and use. Bring a fallen tree branch into the house. Google “biophilia” to found out how seeing natural objects is beneficial to health and serenity.
• Don’t buy anything made of chipboard! Better to find solid wood items at thrift shops. At IKEA, some items are far better quality than others. Avoid anything made of cheap laminates.
• Older couches and chairs often have solid hardwood under-structures. Collect these! Instead of buying a new couch, get an old one re-sprung and re-upholstered. This also supports local labour, and you end up with a far better product with longevity; perhaps even an heirloom. Or just throw a nice blanket over the thing.
• Collage a card for a friend/relative rather than buying a present. In the long run these mean far more to people than objects do. I know I don’t want anything bought new. It’s never right.
• Old second-hand books are a fantastic present. We should support local bookstores in general.
• Enjoy your improved surroundings. They will make you happy.

Holiday

Monday, December 20th, 2010

Happy whatever winter holiday you observe, longest night of the year maybe, or, in the southern hemisphere the longest day, or Christmas, or ‘Holiday‘ or whatever else. Drive safely.

Brown paper packages tied up with string

Wednesday, December 15th, 2010

These are a few of my favourite things. Above, a white painted branch with Kraft-paper wrapped gifts is a minimalist advent calendar, by the inventive DIY Brigg from Norway via The Style Files. Below: Simple garland fencing at Axel Vervoordt’s recent Winter Exhibition; photo via Belgian Pearls. Both are from an article at Remodelista on Scandinavian Christmas traditions.

By the way, Ouno is now on Remodelista’s Design Newsstand; have a look under the “Critics and Observers” section (which should probably have been titled something like “Opinionated and Acerbic”). But I’m not the slightest bit bah humbug about this time of year, unless we’re talking about what’s going on at the mall. My holiday wish is for us to stop buying plastic knickknackery and disposable junk from the mega-factories. It just encourages them! It would be so nice if we could buy a lot less, but of much better quality, and make the rest ourselves. The evergreen garland fence below is just brilliant.

“Dear Custmers,” We’re Colsed

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009

Dear Custmers, We're Colsed

Thank you! You Have nice Holiday too, everyone!

Furoshiki – Wrap holiday presents in the green, Japanese style

Friday, December 18th, 2009

This is a Japanese tradition we desperately need to adopt in North America – re-using textiles to wrap presents. It’s an art form, but it’s worth learning because it dispenses with all the annoying and wasteful tape and paper and ribbon, it’s a fun skill to learn (for kids too), and it’s an educational conversation piece – you might have to explain to the recipient what it is, but that’s probably worthwhile. Christmas is a forest disaster when you combine its Christmas trees and its paper usage. Any textile will work – just use some old fabric, recycle some scarves, or buy scarves/shawls from thrift and then watch some furoshiki tying videos. Any size of cloth will do – for the larger bags/wrapping you should look for the 40″ size of scarf shawl. In Japan, furoshiki were traditionally used as practical carrying bags as well as ceremonial wrapping. For the more utilitarian uses, people would carry a furoshiki cloth around with them, just in case, and tie it into a tote bag as the need arose. This habit will become very useful here once plastic bags are banned, and that’s soon (see the videos below to see how to tie a quick tote bag). Last year’s post on this topic is here and instructional furoshiki videos are here and here. Video directly below is great – Mick Jagger bought a furoshiki at this shop – but I hate the part where they walk away from the furoshiki shop with their purchases in glossy cardboard envelopes and paper bags! Photos here are all Creative Commons licensed on Flickr, by kirainet and vaneea.

Kakushi Tsutsumi Details

Single Bin Tsutsumi Details

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And advanced: