Cruising the Internet the other day, I came across a woman endeavoring to spend zero dollars on Christmas this year. Zero dollars!
On one hand, I love this idea. Focus on experiences rather than materials. Save money and put an end to the consumerism of the holidays. However, these all or nothing challenges always intimidate me.
Plus, I don't think we could do a Zero Dollar Christmas at this place in my life. But that doesn't mean that this doesn't give me some ideas.
For instance, I might be able to pull off a Zero Dollar Halloween. In fact, I almost did it one year. The ideas for DIY Halloween costumes coupled with handing out leftover goodie bag treats to trick or treaters means that I could do it again.
Or a Non-Material Advent Calendar. We've done this in years past and I've seen loads of fun ideas for this on blogs and on Pinterest. Kids open the doors to find promises of experiences - baking cookies with mom, sledding with dad, movie night with popcorn, walk to see the Christmas lights, and even an iTunes song. Hey, a downloaded song is not material, too.
Maybe a Nothing New Christmas would be fun. We almost made it to a Nothing New Christmas one year. We got things off of Freecycle, put the word out with friends (one of whom came through with a giant bag of Legos that her friend's son had outgrown), bought at the thrift store and, my favorite place of all, antique stores and fairs. The great thing about buying used is that the items you give are so unique. Over the years, I've given my boys an old cap gun, a 1970's troll, a light up human body, a vintage nutcracker and more. For grandparents or even parents, give something that was yours when you were younger - or something that the recipient once gave you. My parents do the former - gifting my boys old toys and books. My grandmother did the latter once I was a young adult - giving me back little ceramic artifacts that I had once given her and photo albums that she had put together of me as a young child.
With the advent of local eating, a 100 Mile Thanksgiving almost seems too easy to be a challenge. This year, for the first time ever, my CSA is offering heirloom, local turkeys. Of course, I'm a vegetarian so I'm only tangentially interested. Still, I'll bring something totally local to our Thanksgiving celebration.
Of course, Spend Nothing Stockings is a much more manageable alternative to the Zero Dollar Christmas. I might actually do this one this year. Every year, I hand-make my kids something special. One year, it was knit light sabers. Last year, it was knit owls. This year? Any knit Harry Potter ideas? The stocking can also be stuffed with homemade treats and passed down treasures.
I'll definitely propose a White Elephant Exchange for my family. This is an on again, off again tradition amongst the adults. It is laugh out loud fun when we do this. Year after year, a golden ceramic cat made the rounds until someone, ahem, no names, donated it to a thrift store! (Look! It or one just like it turned up at a local antique store!). Who knows what treasured heirloom will be in the pile this year.
Finally, there is the possibility of a Handmade Holiday or one focused on Recused, Recycled or Locally Made or even only USA Made Gifts. Northwest Edible Life wrote, just yesterday, on a Handmade Holiday and has a whole host of great gift ideas as well as inspiration.
I'm not sure what we'll do this holiday season but I do thank the Naked Gardening lady (who wrote about the Zero Dollar Holiday) for making me think twice about ways to make it more meaningful, less expensive, less consumeristic and, well, just better!
** This is a Meaningful Memory post! If you are interested in guest posting on greener holiday traditions at The Green Phone Booth this year, please email greenphoneboothATgmailDOTcom with your ideas. Meaningful Memory posts run every Wednesday (and occasionally on other days) between now and January 1.
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** I'm linking this post to Well Made Wednesdays over at An Oregon Cottage, Thrifty Thursdays at Thrifty and Fabuless, Frugal Fridays at The Shabby Nest, and Frugal Friday at Life as Mom.