Monday, November 22, 2010

Buy Nothing Day is coming!'s that time of year again. The snow is falling, the turkey is thawing, the recipes are in order, and the relatives are on their way. Time to run out and go broke buying gifts for your family and friends. "generic" gifts so you have a pile to hand out to people you don't really know or care about - just because they did the same. Ah...the spirit of giving.

I'm not above playing Santa for the little ones or buying a heartfelt gift for someone you love. But, the whole commercial atmosphere of the holidays in the U.S. is ghoulish. Buy! Buy! Buy! The news is already covering the importance of this year's profits for consumer companies. They say that we aren't shopping enough because we don't feel confident in our economy and that we have a weak economy because we aren't shopping enough. Love the chicken and egg theory, but it isn't about to guilt me into shopping for the good of humanity. Good grief.

So, as we head into the biggest shopping season of the year, let's begin compiling a list of gifts we can give that are sustainable, useful, thoughtful, and inexpensive. I'll start, but feel free to add to the list via the comments. I look forward to your ideas!

-a basket of ingredients for homemade cleaning supplies (organic cotton cloth baby diapers make excellent cleaning rags, medium-sized glass bottles with spray nozzles, vinegar, baking soda, a few essential oils (lavender, tea tree, eucalyptus, lemon and peppermint are great for cleaning), lemon juice, a natural soap like Dr. Bronner's, crushed lavender or an organic potpourri, and list of instructions for making homemade cleaning solutions for glass, general purpose, toilets/bathrooms, carpets, etc. - see my links for making homemade cleaning supplies!)

-something handmade (yep...the old standby...knitting, scrapbooking, artwork, etc. can still make a wonderful gift)

-a donation in someone's name (Give the gift of giving! Donate to a local charity, food bank, humane society, children's charity, or whatever your heart desires...then give your friends and family a card or notice that tells them you have donated in their name.)

-food! (Everyone loves an edible gift...bake cookies/cakes/candies, etc. and wrap them up in festive ribbons. Voila!)

-your time (Invite your friends/family over for a party or promise a loved one a special night out or a day of fun. It's sort of like a gift certificate for your undivided attention.)

-do a gift drawing so you only have to buy a gift for one friend or family member - that way you can search for the perfect gift for one person and not have to go broke or stress out trying to find presents for everyone.

What are your favorite holiday giving ideas?

Also...just a reminder that the day after Thanksgiving is Black Friday. This day has also come to be known as Buy Nothing Day. It is followed now by Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday (The web's answer to Black Friday). No one needs anything badly enough to be out there in the madness on Friday. Stay home. Eat leftovers. Bake some edible presents or begin crafting items for special people in your life. (Besides...Black Friday deals don't tend to be much better than the holiday deals on other days.)

I can tell you my favorite gift already. My mother made me a new quilt for my bed. Couldn't think of a better present. It's homemade with love and will be used for a long time, passed down and enjoyed by others. Those are the gifts that people truly feel grateful for.

And my other favorite gift? My family. Can't buy that.

And another? My child's face on Christmas morning, when I...the shining "buy nothing" hypocrite watch him open an overly expensive, hard won toy D and I had to track down on Ebay.

Yes, even I sometimes succumb to the consumer hamster wheel that is shopping. But, the little guy DID only ask for 4 things. I figured the splurge was worth it. Especially since D and I don't buy gifts for each other - and our families only get pictures of the kiddo every year. Plus, we will the humane society and to the angel tree program. So, even though a tiny bit of me feels guilty for the purchase, I hope I have made up for it in other ways.

Yes, I'm justifying.

I'll stop now.

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