Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A Zero Dollar Holiday?

From the bean of Green Bean.

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.


Robbie said...

I love the idea, especially for a no-buy Advent. I've tried to keep our December calendar clear for just that reason. No gift shopping, just seasonal activities. I want my kids to remember more than just presents.

Anonymous said...

We're going to be doing no-buy Advent too (the kid is only 8 months old, so it might be another year before we really do an Advent Calendar) and we do a lot of Handmade Christmas - the husband and kiddo get new hats and/or glove/mittens and maybe socks and the other relatives get something handmade on a rotation. We do purchase gifts but it's a combination of wants and needs - we totally do the stock up on underware and socks type of thing and then a few choice wants - usually books or movies that eventually get shared with everyone. If someone can't think of something they want we do gift cards so as to not buy a bunch of useless junk.
Since it's the kiddos first Christmas we're actually just going to rewrap abunch of his toys as we full expect him to be more interested in the boxes and wrapping paper.

Eco Yogini said...

i love the advent idea (but for Yule) and have been meaning every year to try to make one ready...except I always think of it too late.

so- this is perfect for prompting me to get started NOW :) Thank you!
(ps- and thank you for adding me to your blog list! Yay!)

Elizabeth said...

Who outgrows LEGOS?? My soon to be 28 year old
son still checks them out every time he visits. I can hear him head down to the basement and then very soon that familiar rustle sound as he sifts through the blocks, looking for the right one.

Green Bean said...

@Robbie - Thank you! I always try to keep our Decembers as clear as possible but do have a December birthday for one of my kids that always throws a wrench in my plans.

@mollymakesdo - Ha ha. I think we actually did that for our kids when they were little - wrapped some of their current toys up. It IS all about the wrapping.

@Eco-Yogini - Happy that I motivated you! Love keeping up with your blog!

@Elizabeth - Really? Well, then, I know what to expect from my kids! :)

The Prudent Homemaker said...

We've done this many times; in fact, I wrote a guest post on it here:

We rarely have money for birthdays and Christmas, so we use what we have. I just wrote about what we do for birthdays here:

I have a ton of links on my site for frugal gifts that you can make using items you already have (both raw supplies and repurposed items).

I haven't done the activity Advent calender, but I am planning to do it this year; I have been looking for ideas on activities to include, so I will check out your ideas!

I'm not willing to go into debt for Christmas. If we don't have the funds, we still make a wonderful holiday using what we have!

The Prudent Homemaker said...

There are several tutorials out there on knitting Harry Potter scarves.

Lisa Sharp said...

I'm trying to make a lot of gifts. Got a few made a couple of months ago and was going to try and stick with it and get lots down and now I going to have to rush again haha.

I try and buy useful gifts and shop locally and on Etsy as much as possible. My brother and I always donate in each other's names for Christmas and my parents give us a few less gifts and we do something as a family. One year we went to a Flaming Lips concert and stayed at a hotel and last year we went to the Thunder basketball game and stayed in a nice hotel in OKC.

I love to bake so everyone always gets baked goods and this is the one good thing about most people not baking from scratch anymore. My from scratch baked goods are more special. :)

This is a reminder that I need to get busy on all the gifts I want to make!


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