What is the best way to save serious money over the holiday shopping season? Easy – don’t buy into the idea that you need to spend serious money over the holidays.
Year after year, shoppers still experience some shock when they walk into a store in the fall and whole sections of the store have already been transformed with Hanukkah and Christmas displays.
All this reminds us that maybe it’s time to take back the power. Retailers keep churning out the same merchandise with just little tweaks knowing we as consumers are going to get caught up in the glitter and glitz and buy everything up. Spending your hard-earned money every single year on goods you don’t really need or already have isn’t just a burden on your wallet though- it has some major social and environmental consequences too.
Maybe this is the year to turn it all around and reduce your carbon footprint just a little while showing big corporations (as well as everyone around you) that you can’t be tricked that easily. The holidays can be just as enjoyable (if not more so) without having to line up outside of stores at 6am for Black Friday sales or being pushed and shoved in a stuffy, crowded mall desperately searching for a last minute gift.
Have “The (Gifting) Talk”
Making the choice to not buy a brand new present for everyone in your family or all your friends can present some awkward scenarios. Specifically, what happens if you don’t buy anything for anyone and yet everyone buys something for you? As much as people say Christmas isn’t about the presents, chances are, someone is going to be a little bothered by this. To avoid any uncomfortable situations, just casually mention to the people you usually gift to that you’re going for an anti-consumption kind of holiday this year. Here’s where you can decide if you’re just not going to give any gifts at all, if you want to stick to buying thoughtful used items, or if you’re going to go the DIY gift route- either way, if this is the first holiday season you’re trying this out, just give everyone a heads up.
For parents, it can seem a little harsh to all of a sudden curtail or take the gifting aspect away from kids during the holiday season when all the other children are getting new toys, books, and clothes. To ease them into an anti-consumption way of life, tell the kids that starting this year, all the kids will get one new gift and the other presents will be homemade. Turn it into a challenge if it feels like there’s some resistance. Best handmade craft or present gets some special prize. The transition from the usual routine might seem a little odd at first but think of what a fantastic example you’re setting. One awkward holiday season is all it takes to send the message that you’re going to be doing things a little differently from now on.
Re-use, Re-gift, and Recycle
Don’t be afraid to re-use what still works! Put those glittery ornaments down. We know they look beautiful and shiny but you have a perfectly good set of ornaments at home already. You don’t need it. The same goes for brand new shiny wrapping paper, gift bags, cake trays, cookie tins, lawn ornaments, lights, etc. If you need them or your old ones are actually broken, then go for it- but if you feel yourself gravitating towards the new for the simple reason that they’re brand new, fight the urge. Another anti-consumption tip? Re-gift! That crystal dish you got last year that you never used? Go ahead and give it away. That blue wool scarf you never got around to wearing last winter? Pass it on! Re-gifting presents that you weren’t able to find a use for is not only eco-friendly and budget-friendly, it’s also pretty much a win-win for everyone. Even if the person you re-gift to can’t find a use for the item, they now have something they can use as a gift rather than having to purchase a new present. Last tip: Don’t underestimate the value of recycling. Buying something second-hand doesn’t have to be tacky or cheap if you find something that is sentimental and has meaning to the person you’re buying for. A quick search on Kijiji can reveal thousands of amazing gently used items whether you’re looking to buy a musical instrument for your child, a rare box-set of an old TV show, a vintage piece of furniture- the possibilities are endless. Purchasing a gift second-hand takes time and patience, but at the end of the day, it’s totally worth it when you think about the good you’re doing.
Pot-Luck Instead of DIY
The holidays can be a scary time for your waistline and even scarier for those brave souls who volunteer to host the many dinners that happen during this season. Even though some of us have this vision of serving an epic feast single-handedly and being dubbed the Martha Stewart among family and friends, the reality of this vision is that it takes a lot of time, money, and energy. Save yourself the stress and shopping by spreading out the duties. Pot-lucks are incredibly fun as long as it’s planned properly. Assign rather than let people choose what to bring – sounds kind of bossy, we know, but even if you just assign them a type of food, it’ll limit your chances of having 10 people show up with pies.