For me, the Holiday season always makes me worry about the amount of unnecessary stuff I’m going to acquire. Clutter has never been good for my mental health and Holiday consumption is a minimalist’s worst nightmare. As a society, it’s out of control. Holidays sales for 2017 are projected to be around $1 trillion!
My feelings are always so conflicting. Shouldn’t I feel grateful and happy that I received something from someone? Don’t get me wrong, I am beyond thankful for people’s generosity I would just prefer a plate of cookies or just time together as a gift.
I think more people are at this point with holiday gift giving and receiving. But maybe the problem is, we’re just not all on the same page. We all just assume that we need to buy all these things because we see it in commercials, on movies, on TV shows. You know, the picture-perfect holiday. Gifts stacked to the ceiling and everybody holding hands while singing Christmas carols in their matching sweaters. We are letting marketing shape our ideas of what the perfect holiday is. It’s ingenious and sad at the same time. Marketing is VERY powerful.
News flash. What you see on TV isn’t the “perfect” holiday. That’s only what corporations want you to think because how on earth are they supposed to hit their Q4 sales goals if we don’t go out and spend hundreds of dollars on gifts?
When I started my zero waste journey, I knew Christmas was going to be a challenge. And it was the first year. Changing something like how to exchange presents during the holidays isn’t the easiest thing to do when your family has done things the same way for decades.
To bring the idea of not giving gifts to the table was blasphemy. They all thought I was insane.
This advice isn’t going to solve your stuff getting dilemma immediately but it will plant the seeds necessary to start the transformation.
Announce Your Anti-Gift Request Early
Obviously, you will want to make it known to everyone around you that you do not want any gifts. That doesn’t always work so be prepared to give people a list of things you would love to receive like cookies, candy, experience gifts, etc. To most people, at least this is the case in my family, when you say you don’t want anything it just translates to, “You don’t have to get me anything” which means they still will. Giving someone “Nothing” literally does not compute. I’ve found that when I specifically say what we would like to get, it helps tremendously. For inspiration, check out my 101 zero waste gift ideas.
Talk About Your New Lifestyle A LOT
I mean all of the time. Constantly mentioning our consumption and waste issues will eventually convince those around you that buying so much might not be the best thing to do. I’m certain I talk about zero waste to my family and friends every time I see them. Most of the time, they are the ones who initiate the conversation. I’ve found that most people are genuinely interested in the concept and want to learn more about it – perhaps even jump on board.
Get Your Friends and Family Involved
Get them involved with your zero waste lifestyle. I constantly ask my mom and grandmother for blog quotes and advice. Making your friends and family feel like they are apart of this big picture will lessen your chances of getting “stuff” for the holidays because they won’t want things either.
Be Thankful for the Holiday Stuff
If you do get some extra things for the holidays just be thankful. This isn’t the time to refuse or hurt anyone’s feelings. We need more generosity and kindness in the world so don’t worry. There’s always next year. The seeds have been planted. It’s up to you to keep nurturing a different mindset.
If you don’t need the items you were gifted, simply return them for cash, regift, or even donate them to someone in need. Holiday consumption is a product of decades worth of successful marketing campaigns to convince us that the reason for the season is copious amounts of stuff. Don’t beat yourself up – changing this mindset is going to take a lot of work and a lot of time. With persistence, you will get there.
How do you avoid the “stuff” during the Holidays?