Consume Less This Holiday
This cat has the why-did-I-just-get-trampled-at-the-five-and-dime-on-black-Friday blues.
In all seriousness, the level of garbage gift consumption during the holidays is bananas. Kids get mountains of gifts from guilty and stressed out parents, grownups give each other novelty items where one feels obligated to buy it and the other feels obligated to use it once or twice. Hoards of people get into physical altercations before the holiday to find semi-suited gifts out of tradition? Out of a fear that they phone it in the rest of the year? The thought of how many gifts over the holidays find their forever home in a landfill a few months after they were unwrapped is nauseating. This isn't about that one big gift that your kid has begged for all year, this is about buying stuff to buy stuff because: holidays.
I actually love gifts. Finding the perfect thing I know someone will love and use is thrilling for me and by all means if you're the kind of giver who nails it every time with gifts people rave about a decade later, then go for it, but if you're the type of person who's thinking about stepping off the consumer carousel this holiday, or who's just looking to add some new ideas to your holiday repertoire, might I suggest a few ideas:
Give Experience - Experience is one of the best ways to spend your money. If you have the means, take your family, partner, or best friend on a trip somewhere near or far. If you don't, take them out to dinner at a restaurant everyone loves, organize a scavenger hunt, build a giant fort, or have a special game night.
Make Stuff - Use your creativity instead of your wallet. Sew something, craft something, build something, draw something. Incorporate photos of your family or your pets. Even if you're not super creative, there are tutorials all over the internet and kits to guide you. Encourage your kids to make stuff for people. Homemade gifts are the best!
Give Food - If you love to cook or bake, how much more fun will you have spending the day in the kitchen sipping hot cider and making cookies for everyone than you will waiting in line with a bunch of impatient shoppers at Walmart? When you're done, there are tons of ways you can present home-cooked gifts that people will rave about.
Volunteer or Give to Charity - Volunteering as a family or with friends is a really sweet way to give back, to teach kids about giving and gratitude, and to spend time with people you care about. Give in someone's name to a charity that aligns with their passion or politics. There's no shortage of organizations that need your help.
Give Your Time - Offer to help a friend with something they need. Make fun time tickets for your kids that they can cash in for some no-devices-no-interruptions-one-on-one time with you. Tell your partner that you want to set aside one Sunday morning a month to take them to the brunch of their choice.
Change Your Habits - Start talking to family members this year about changing up your holiday habits next year. Maybe next year there's a gift swap or everyone gets one really special gift at the top of their list and a stocking in the midst of a week of planned holiday festivities. Maybe nobody gets anything physical and folks draw pictures of each other over a holiday picnic lunch... on a beach... in Bali.
I'm not a grinch, I love the holidays, but traditions are worth questioning, particularly when they seem to cause a fair amount of stress, but whether or not you give any of this consideration, I hope your holiday season is fabulous and fun!