“Oh, for the good old days when people would stop Christmas shopping when they ran out of money.” ~Author Unknown
By now, we’ve all probably seen and heard news stories like this:
- Holiday Season Gets Off to a Good Start
- It’s Going to Be a Merry Christmas for Retail
- Holiday Shopping Spree Good News for the Economy
At some point, we started equating the holidays with heading out to the mall for a shopping frenzy. The average American plans to spend $714 on gifts this month. All too often, the recipients of these presents don’t need them, and we can’t really afford them. And along the way, the holidays became known for two things: stress and debt.
Christmas was magical when I was a kid. We went to my grandparents and opened presents under the tree, then we played and ate for the rest of the day. I loved getting gifts. But what I loved more was that the day had meaning. It wasn’t like any other day. Many of the things I remember most about the holidays cost almost nothing – handmade advent calendars, stringing popcorn and cranberries, making ornaments out of dough, and playing with my cousins.
This year, I’m on a mission to make the holidays debt-and-stress free – and magical. If you’re feeling the same way, here are 10 ideas to take back your holidays from consumerism:
1. Plan an outing to be the center of your festivities.
Go ice skating. Take a carriage ride. Or go hiking, cross country skiing, or caroling.
2. In lieu of traditional gift giving, do a homemade gift exchange.
Agree that all presents must be homemade – baked goods, art, songs, stories, poems, or crafts.
3. Focus on quality over quantity.
Shop at a local craft market. If you don’t have one, shop at Etsy.com. Include information about the artisans with your gifts.
4. Exchange books.
Support authors and the spread of the written word and ideas. Looking for a greener or thriftier option than new books? Shop at a used bookstore.
5. Create some new family traditions.
Make up a board game and play it. Put on a puppet show. Draw, paint, or craft as a family. Get creative and have fun.
6. Observe the winter solstice.
Make the first day of winter a simple, festive day focused on the change of the seasons, family, and friendship. (Stay tuned for my Wednesday post all about this topic.)
7. Revise your holiday feast.
If making a huge dinner brings more stress than satisfaction, throw a potluck or pare down your holiday fare.
8. Take a holiday from work and tune into each other.
Spend at least a few days not thinking about or checking in with your job, if possible. Also consider a sabbatical from the Internet, Smart Phone, and whatever else distracts you from your family.
9. Write personal letters.
Instead of sending presents to faraway friends and family, write them letters in your own handwriting.
10. Focus on the beauty and meaning of the day.
Decorate. Play music. Light candles. Make cookies. Cuddle on the couch. Tell stories. Read together. Stay present and breathe deeply.
More ideas on taking back the holidays:
- Hiking for the Holidays by Renee Tougas – Adventure in Progress
- A Dozen Donation Tips for the Holidays by Erin Burt- Boston Globe
- The Case against buying Christmas presents by Leo Babauta – Zen Habits
- Christmas With No Presents by Colin Beavan – YES! Magazine
- How I Rescued Myself From Holiday Shopping Through a Donation Exchange by Neal Gorenflo – Shareable
What are your ideas for making the holidays debt-and-stress free – and magical?