It's Christmas time at the Vreede house. And like many families around the country, they're embracing festive traditions, decorating the tree as a family.

But the Vreedes are trying to be waste-free and that's not easy at Christmas time.

"Everyone knows that Christmas is a plastic time," Esther Vreede said. "It's just all about plastic and mostly plastic junk as well - plastic that gets used once, then thrown away."

So the Vreedes have some rules for their Christmas. Presents must either be handmade or made locally.


"Making by hand slows the process down," she said. "There's only so many presents you can make yourself."

It's part of a larger theory the mum of Stella, 5, and Daniel, 3, has about the commercial phenomenon which Christmas has become.

"When you experience something and it's in saturated form, the experience gets dulled - you get de-sensitised to it.

"Kids are getting stuff all the time, throughout the year - they need togs, we will get you togs - kids are always getting stuff and not having to wait until one special time of the year to get stuff they need.

"This is what drives me to be disciplined about Christmas - there's much suffering on the other side of all the glitz and glam," she said.

"And not just the kids in China without education, because their time and life is 'more valuable' spent in a factory making a piece of plastic junk, so that a kid in New Zealand is going to get and break on Boxing Day.

"It's not just that. It's the stressed out parents in New Zealand, who lost their job two weeks before Christmas and who are actually struggling to figure out how they're going to make the next mortgage repayment.

"Yet there's this expectation to be buying presents to show our love for people. It's so hollow and one dimensional."


Vreedes said her children were not deprived and, if anything, they were better off.

"When I am giving a gift to my children that I have made myself, I am giving them my attention at the same time.

"Even though I did it in secret while they were asleep, the time I spent making that gift, I was investing in them."

Vreedes' blog is here and her Instagram here.

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