Going Green Mama is avoiding stores for a while...
It's interesting that it takes 2 1/2 years of a major recession before folks start publicly questioning whether we should spend, spend, spend for the season.
For the first time, I'm hearing discussions in break rooms, on talk radio, in the news about cutting down the unnecessary gifts in our lives. You know, the "she bought me something, so I need to get something" gifts. The "technically I'm supposed to" gifts. The "they have everything but I still need to buy something" gifts. The "I need to spend the same and get the same quantity" gifts.
Suddenly, this type of gift-giving is slowly becoming passe.
And I'm all for it.
There are few things more frustrating than buying a gift out of duty. OK, maybe buying a gift for someone who doesn't appreciate the thought process. So maybe the question is, can't we buy less stuff?
Does our courrier do his job less well because he doesn't get the Sam's Club box of cookies? Do we appreciate our vendors less if we don't get popcorn? (OK, I admit we rely on that for lunches at work in December...) Do our preachers or neighbors care if we do or don't present a plate of cookies? Do our teachers care if they get one less handmade ornament?
Realize I'm just talking out loud; maybe you want to buy something for the person who has everything or get something for the paper carrier just because. And if that's the case, I'm all for that. Gift giving should be because it's a true gift, not a transaction.
But if you're looking for giving less "stuff" this season, think outside the box. Christmas is three weeks away (Horray!) so the time for truly made-by-your-hands gifts is running short. Consider instead buying something from an etsy shop, or treats from your winter farmers market. Or consider a gift card towards an experiential gift or something you know they need or could use (art store for a teacher, coffee for a carrier).
This year, in our family, we've weighed heavily what gifts to give are most important to us. And we've settled largely on helping others in need when we could. Instead of hitting the toy aisles, which bring with itself a host of problems, we bought clothes for a little girl the size of my daughter, which sparked interesting discussions on how we can help this mysterious girl. We repacked toys that are not used in our home to give to children's organizations. We've decided to pass on the cookie trays in favor of a breakfast basket for our sitter, and my daughter, when we asked what to do for her teachers, announced she'd like to make them cards.
How do you handle the "required" gift giving that doesn't come so easily to you? Are you cutting back on those ancillary gifts this year? Getting creative in your approach? Shopping smaller or closer to home?