6 Tips: Conscious Consumerism & the Holidays
How to Buy Less This Holiday Season
1. Plan ahead and stay organized
Spreadsheets and handwritten lists are the perfect way to keep on top of who you need to buy gifts for, ideas that you have throughout the year, and also for keeping track of what you’ve already purchased.
Not a natural list maker? Don’t overthink it! Try to keep a running list on your phone or in a planner of ideas that might crop up as you have conversations with friends and family. You never know when someone will drop a hint about the perfect gift for them. My mom is always surprised by something she mentioned forever ago showing up under the Christmas tree!
2. Create new memories by making your own decorations
Family crafts can be a special memory for everyone and is a great activity for a cold winter weekend in the run up to the holidays. I like to decorate with natural objects or items found around the house. You could even scavenge in your yard for pieces to make a festive wreath. Using what you already have helps to cut down on waste and can become a much-anticipated family tradition each year.
3. Choose meaningful and heartfelt gifts
A handmade and thoughtfully written card can go a long way, something that the receiver will cherish for years to come. A few other ideas for something personal and heartfelt could be:
• A donation to a charitable organization that they support
• A picnic basket full of their favorite snacks and treats
• A subscription to a service that they’ve been thinking about, like meal delivery or online learning courses
• A calendar full of photos of their family, friends and pets
Pajamas are also a great holiday gift if you’re looking for something special. Matching sets are the perfect excuse for fun family photos, and it’s much easier to get the sizing right!
4. Consider Shipping & Travel
So many of us have family near and far, but travel and shipping expenses can add up quickly (and are harmful to the environment). If you are planning to mail a gift to someone far away, choose something that’s small or lightweight.
Gift cards are an ideal solution if you’re looking to cut shipping costs when you aren’t able to hand-deliver your presents. To make a gift card feel special, reach out ahead of time and let the receiver know why you chose that particular gift card for them. Or print out the e-gift card to put in a beautiful card with a thoughtful note.
Likewise, if you plan to travel over the holidays, try to find gifts that can be packed into your suitcase rather than shipping a box of gifts separately.
5. Create a holiday party budget too
Parties are a great way to bring family and friends together – and can often take the place of gifting itself. If you are hosting, just try not to go overboard on decorations and disposables that end up in the trash. Opt to use your everyday dishes (even if it means an extra round in the dishwasher) or recyclable or easily biodegradable plates and cutlery. By cutting back on party decorations you can allocate more of your budget to food and drinks. A White Elephant gift exchange is also a fun, low expense way to gift… and I think a thrifted or regifted gift swap is always hilarious. It’s amazing what you can end up with and creates a lot of laughs!
6. Travel in lieu of gifts
I love to travel for Christmas, which really helps to cut down on material goods. This year we’re staying close to home but I’d love to travel again next year if possible. Puerto Morelos is one of my favorite spots to celebrate the holidays. There’s plenty of expats, it’s easy to go out for meals, and it’s a great place for kids. It’s the perfect way to reduce your consumption over the holidays while still making memories that will last forever.
I always like to remind myself that the true spirit of the season isn’t about presents but bringing people together, reconnecting with family and friends, and lifting one another up. And that’s something we can all use a little more of this year. Do you have any other tips to share?