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Simply Having an Inclusive Christmas-time: Why We Decided Against a “Christmas” Edition Box

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Image Description: Arty writing reading "Simply Having an Inclusive Christmas Time" on the backdrop of a mix of cartoon style holly buds, love hearts, and venus symbols designed by Veronica Dearly

There’s not a lot of literature about inclusive Christmas marketing, and upon a deep-dive Google search, I found there was more to be said against inclusive “holiday” period festivities than for them. Broadly speaking, December is a time of excitement and generosity, whether you celebrate Christmas religiously or not. For many, it is a time to be with family and friends, and to reflect upon the year just passed with a slight nostalgia (if but a bit of relief, too!) However, for more people than meets the eye, the holiday season can be lonely, perhaps a reminder of another year passing, a comparison between oneself and the perfect Christmas-jumper clad families and friends on social media, and a time of constant consumerism and hellish trips to the shops amongst claustrophobic crowds, and for some people, it’s just not something they celebrate.

The Piers Morgans of our generation are quick to tell millenials that we are “snowflakes”, constantly trying too hard to please other people to the detriment of our own happiness and society’s wellbeing. Well, we couldn’t disagree more. After all, isn’t Christmas a time to try and please as many people as possible, however we can. Religiously celebrated or not, the holiday season stands if anything to remind us of our humanity, to connect us to one another with a child-like nostalgia for parties, presents and warmth (be it physical or emotional). That’s why, this year, on our first Christmas running Books That Matter, we decided to strive to make as many people happy as possible, include as many people in our celebrations as possible, and create something inclusive, unique and non-denominational so that everyone can enjoy it.

The product of such an idea became this: a decidedly bold non-festive subscription box. No tinsel, no frills, no mulled wine, no reindeers, no ramped up price tag. Just a great book, some extra gifts in the spirit of generosity, and a collaboration with our chosen charity to relish in the joy of giving that comes with this season. We decided upon warm, red eco wrapping paper for our boxes as a small nod to the festivities, but also as a lovely wintery colour to match the tote bag from Project Period, as well as a contrast with the bold oranges and purples on the cover of Chidera Eggerue’s What a Time to Be Alone, our chosen read to accompany our self-care theme this month. Instead of focusing on Christmas, we decided to look inwardly, and promote the idea of putting oneself at the forefront this December; being kind, and looking after your mind. Here are a few reasons why we did so:

It’s not for everyone!

As a brand, it would be easy for us to assume that everyone would love a special festive themed box; after all, all the shops are doing festive products around this time of year! However, we pride ourselves on interacting with our subscribers personally through our social media, blog, Facebook group and emails; and we know for certain that a large amount of our subscribers actually do not celebrate Christmas, and their needs and wants should be respected just as much as those who do. Our brand always has been and always will be intersectional and inclusive, and this means consciously thinking about every decision we make for our brand, and to make sure everyone’s desires are represented in our product. So, instead of creating a “Christmas special” or anything OTT, we decided to adopt the generosity and charitable nature of the season and include more gifts for you all to enjoy as an added present from us to you, and also to pair with a charitable organisation close to our hearts (our choice was Project Period who aim to tackle period poverty in the UK and Kenya).

Christmas isn’t always an easy time

We also wanted to bare in mind that sometimes the holiday season can be overwhelming. Every shop front boasts new lights, Christmas banners, seasonal gifts, Christmas-themed events, and the holiday can seem inescapable. This, along with other more personal factors, can make Christmas a hugely claustrophobic time for those who do not celebrate or for whom Christmas is a reminder of unpleasant memories or perhaps a time of grief after loss of a loved one. We thought that having a product that you know and love turn up at your door unchanged during this festive season might be a little ray of sunshine and escapism from those finding the holidays a troubling time emotionally, financially or physically.

We don’t believe in “Christmas specials” at double the price

Many of our team have worked in the retail and service industry before working with Books That Matter, and we have all seen the rise in prices that happens for many of our favourite products before the festive season. You may have noticed too, as a consumer, that products go up in price due to their festive wrapping, gift box additions, or just plainly because it’s Christmas. To try and avoid any philosophical ranting, capitalism takes many forms at Christmas to try and get us to spend more money in a seemingly unavoidable manner – and we did not want any part of this. So, we kept our prices exactly the same – and offered a free gift voucher for anyone wanting to buy a subscription for a loved one to make gift buying a little easier!

Self care is paramount in this bustling, consumer-led season

We decided that one thing that affects us all in December, at the end of a busy year, is a period of burnout. Big or small, we are all liable to feeling exhaustion, tiredness, and anxious towards the end of the year. Many people also suffer with Seasonal Affective Disorder, and it’s no secret that people’s mental health is statistically worsened during the latter half of the year. One thing that unites us all is our ability to focus on ourselves and dedicate as much time to caring for our emotional wellbeing as we are to other people this December. Whatever the year has thrown at you, good or bad, it only makes sense to step into 2019 with a renewed energy, sense of self, and a toolkit of how to best handle your workload and social obligations in the New Year; which is why we chose Self Care as our December theme, and What a Time to Be Alone as our December book. We felt this box would be a great way to open the conversation on mental health and wellbeing for our subscribers, and to enrich everyone’s understanding of redefining your self-worth, body image and the language you use to talk about yourself.

We wanted to give back!

From the very beginning of launching Books That Matter, we knew that we wanted to aim for a charitable collaboration in December as a way to give back and celebrate the generosity that comes with the festive season. What allowed us to do this was reaching the amazing number of subscribers we have to this day, so thank you all for your support and engagement; this will certainly not be the last charity collaboration we do, and it all starts with having the financial resources to do so. We created merchandise with Project Period to raise awareness for their work, and hosted a fundraiser in their name at our launch party in London which happened on the 8th of December this year. If you’d like to know more about their work and how they are working with a foundation in Barut to help young women learn how to make and distribute their own sanitary items, head over to the Project Period social media pages.

Thank you for all of your messages of positivity and encouragement about these December boxes. We’ve had a record amount of feedback about these, all positive, through social media and emails – and so many people stated how emphatically they felt about not being bombarded with yet another Christmas-ified version of a product they already know and love, about how they felt seen in their choice not to celebrate this holiday, and how they appreciated something so centred on mental health. We will continue to strive for the very best for our subscribers, and if you have any ideas of what you’d like to see next December, or even in upcoming boxes next year, do not hesitate to let us know!

We wish you a lovely rest of your December, and look forward to seeing you again in the New Year! Don’t forget, our January boxes are now on sale and feature a superb collaboration with Penguin Classics and a focus on Mental Health Awareness Month!

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