Forget Black Friday-Have a White Friday!
Monsieur Wants to Save Money and Save the Planet
The Black Friday Blues
Black Friday occurs every year the day after Thanksgiving. Turkey stuffed people drag themselves out of bed in the wee hours of the morning to stand in line for great deals. Some people dread the day, some live for it. But why?
Everyone is looking for the best prices on items to give as Christmas gifts to loved ones, acquaintances, coworkers and even the mailman. Most of these people already have more than enough stuff and much of it is in a storage building, the attic, the basement or stuffed into closets. Do they really need the "Super Duper Fry My Baby Daddy" or "Lift Um & Love Um Girls Genie Bra" that you fought to get? Here are some alternative ideas for Christmas gifts, one that are gentle on the wallet, do not contribute to the drain on our planet's resources and do not even require gift wrapping!
Have a Minimal Christmas
Here are some gift ideas that will not empty the pocketbook, require trips to retail stores and that will help reduce clutter and the burden on our beautiful Mother Earth. Keep in mind that gifts do not have to be new. I am perfectly happy to receive a recycled item from a thrift or consignment store.
- Electronic Book Reader-Yes, they are still expensive. However they will encourage the recipient to read more. Students can study Math, History, and much more on these devices so they are an investment in education when used properly. These are wonderful for young people and indeed kids of all ages.
- Consumable Gifts-Give favorite food items that a minimalist receiver can use and enjoy without them becoming something to get rid of later. When possible, cook the food yourself to reduce cost and to eliminate shopping time. If giving bath products such as gels, bath salts, etc. look for ones that are all natural and have recycled packaging.
- A Digital Scanner-These are available at thrift stores everywhere. Make a request on sites such as freecycle.org to get one for free. The happy recipient can get rid of documents, pictures, tax records, etc. by scanning and saving them to a computer.
- Tickets-Give a ticket to a favorite musical, concert, theater production, ballet or whatever venue suits their interests. Make a memory that lasts a lifetime.
- Live Plants-Even minimalists love clean air and most will be happy to see something green in their wide open, uncluttered space. The plant can be flower seeds, buds or trees that are later planted outside. Even better, plant a tree in a park or other authorized area and dedicate it to the recipient.
- Babysit-Give the recipient a free evening. Offer to babysit so he/she can spend time doing what they would enjoy. Make it a weekend offer and allow the parents to have time alone. Bring the kids to your home so the parents do not need to spend money going away.
- Car Wash-Clean the car for your friend or family member. Do it up right and they will think of you when they drive that sparkling, like new, automobile. Use soap, rags, buckets and other items you already own.
- Membership-Buy a gift membership to a favorite museum, community theater, botanical garden or art center. This gift will can be purchased online and generally is inexpensive but keeps on giving all year.
- Donation-Make a donation to a favorite charity or cause. This can also go to a beloved cultural center such as the local orchestra, etc.
- Clean House-Schedule a day to come over and clean their house for them. Wash windows, dust, sweep, mop, wash, dry and fold laundry.
- Music-Give a digital music card such as iTunes. Everyone loves music and with the receiver can download her favorites and think of you each time she hears that special song.
- Talent-Use your own special talent to create something special. A writer can create a personal story or poem. A photographer can provide a photo shoot to a family looking for a unique shot. Are you a computer guru? Upgrade or repair a computer. A seamstress can repair clothing, sew hems, curtains, etc.
- Time-Give the gift of your time. Spend an entire day, weekend or even week with a loved one. Turn off the phone, computer and television and talk. Go for long walks together, share memories and childhood stories.
- Errands-Run errands for an elderly or disabled person. Do the grocery shopping, pay bills, pick up library books. These seemingly small things are huge to someone who is home bound.
- Love Someone-So many of us need nothing but love and attention. A minimalist or someone living Wabi-Sabi may not want anything at all other than to know how much you love them. That is more valuable than any mass produced object.
There are thousands of other ideas for Christmas gifts that are easy on the wallet and the earth, ones that do not clutter one's home and mind. Leave your own ideas in the comments section below so we can all benefit from them.
Christmas Is Not About Material Things
We have heard all our lives that Christmas is not about material things but about celebrating Christ's birth. So why will Americans spend weeks scrabbling around in malls and stores choosing stuff and more stuff? Because advertisers, the media and companies who make merchandise manipulate emotions. They make people believe kids must have the latest toy or gadget, a spouse will be devastated unless they receive an expensive gift. But these are not necessary at all.
Every year we hear horror stories about someone who has been killed, usually on Black Friday because crowds gather to rush into stores trying to get the year's "Hot" Item. Others are killed or injured in traffic accidents because so many people take to the roads during the shopping frenzy.
Then many, many people spend months or even years paying off Christmas bills. Often the item(s) bought on credit have been in the thrift stores or trash for a long time and the buyer is still paying for them.
Enjoy the holidays! Love Christmas! Love people more than any material thing though. Slow down, leave the wallet at home or predetermine an amount to spend. Remember that all this stuff burdens the planet as well as the heart. Choose environmentally friendly gifts and/or wrapping paper. Get creative and refuse to use gift wrap at all or buy it from a thrift store.