Simplifying and reducing holiday shopping affords more holiday cheer.
A few years ago, Christmas became too much for me and my family. The whole affair had grown too big to enjoy, and, at its core, it was actually a celebration of waste and excessive consumerism. So, I stepped back and tried a new approach, one that you may need this year to counter the impact of the predicted supply shortages. Here are a few low key ways my once typical family now handles decorations, gift giving and celebrating.
Make or Commission Decorations and Gifts
If you are only six degrees from Kevin Bacon, then even fewer degrees separate you from someone who can sew or knit you a stocking. I am, in fact, one of such people, and there are many of us. We come in all forms, from pear shaped grandmas eking by on Social Security, to harried moms at home who could use some cash to see them through the holidays.
If you can’t shop, you’ll have time to enjoy many easy to make handmade crafts to adorn your windows and trees. With these projects, it’s not just the decoration, but the experience of making with friends and family, that cultivate the holiday spirit. Many things can be strung on thread, yarn or twine to make decorative garlands; pasta, popcorn, Cheerios and berries. Folded paper triangles can be cut into snowflakes. Try as you might, no 2 can be alike.
This year, I learned how to craft hand bound blank books, made from cereal and cracker boxes and up cycled fabric and paper. My go to hand crafted gift hits include soup in a jar, lip gloss, and candles. Jars really sparkle when their labels are removed, and colorful layers of dried beans and spices are alway alluring. Lip gloss and candles can be made in bulk in one evening at a fraction of the cost new, and poured into creative containers like tiny jam jars. And never underestimate the simple joy of receiving handmade cookies in the mail.
Not everyone enjoys crafting, but most of us can make something, whether we believe in ourselves or not. Yee of little faith can help your local economy by commissioning a maker or attending a holiday craft fair. Sure, you might have to pay someone a living wage, but you can rest assured knowing you’re not supporting deplorable working conditions. It’s hard to feel Christmas cheer when you read about the cruel conditions the people who make your Christmas cheer work in, for maybe $2 a day.
Visit thrift stores and garage sales
This is the approach that makes me feel connected to something like fate or Santa Claus. I find nearly everything I want for crosses path eventually if I just wait and keep an open mind.
My son asked for a globe earlier this year. I mentally filed the request away as I wondered where in our humble home we could spare the surface space to keep one. A few weeks later, I found a globe sewing project at the thrift store. Simply cut, sew and stuff. Even if I hand stitch, I’ll be done in time for Christmas. And, no surface area necessary.
The following week a bag of stuffing appeared in my local Buy Nothing Group. There were no other askers, so I piped up. There is much joy to be found in keeping a metaphorical ear to the ground and seeing the serendipitous gifts the universe brings your way. My gift may take more time to make, but, I won’t have to worry if it’s in stock or if there will be postal delays.
Seek it out (locally) online
Scroll local listings on Facebook Marketplace and utilize the Craigslist search bar. There’s a place to input a maximum distance from your zip code if you’re provincial like I am. You’ll be amazed at what you can find in a 5 mile bubble from your home.
Need something that children ultimately outgrow or grow tired of? Let your local online mom group know what you’re looking for. Most of us moms will jump at the opportunity to declutter for some spending holiday cash.
Watch your Buy Nothing Project group or your local Freecycle group feeds for a while. A lot of people get into the spirit of giving around Christmastime. And, if you can’t find it local, check eBay, Etsy and Poshmark- but do it before shipping delays strike!
What can you do Instead of Buying Presents?
It turns out, the best holiday memories are those spent as a family, still in pajamas, wearing fuzzy socks, baking and crafting. These cozy moments together doing festive things are what make the holidays merry and bright. As much attention is given to shopping, it’s only a fraction of the holiday experience, and it’s surprisingly lower on the totem pole than you think, even in the eyes of children. Other things that are up there: decorating a gingerbread house (even if it’s built out of graham crackers and old Halloween candy), trimming a tree, piling in the car (with cocoa) to look at Christmas lights, playing Christmas records, baking cookies, and just taking the time to be together. Don’t let shopping and materialism spoil your Christmas. Most of the stuff just becomes clutter anyway.
Diana is an artist and design who writes about living simply. Follow me for more insight into living simply. Follow me on Instagram to get to know me better.