Monday, December 10, 2007

Green Gifts - Don't let your gift giving kill you

It's the time of year where we max out our credit cards in the name of "holiday cheer" and go crazy buying "thneeds"
four our friends, family, coworkers, contact and loved ones.

I am going to be on my green gifts soapbox until the holiday, so I thought I'd kick off my rant by suggesting how you avoid buying holiday gifts period.

I worked in retail (Saks Fifth Avenue) for years and spent my holidays selling, wrapping, selecting and taking returns for all the thneeds that people bought over the holidays. The stress kicked in, conscious spending went out the door. It never failed, I watched people get Christmas coo-coo every year and as much as it made my commissions soar as a shopgirl, it started my loathing for stupid holiday shopping and my start of scaling the madness.

Here's how I started saving my green for the holidays:

1. I stopped the gift exchange stupidness - who needs to buy a gift to get a useless one in return? It ends up in the trash (bad for landfills) or takes up space OR you give a nice gift and get one that is so-so in return. Stupid, done, off the purchase list.

2. I asked my family to stop gift exchanging and give to charity instead. This took my parents years to break the habit (but you know, two years after getting a card that says "I donated to charity" that was not attached to a gift and they come around). I live in a teeny condo, this change has saved my wallet, my space and my stress. It's tough to get this in place, but it is SO worth it.

3. Give gifts to kids under 15 ONLY. The holidays are for kids anyways! Some on, put your moolah into giving to the lives that love this time of year - the smiles you get in exchange are so worth it.

4. Give the gift of connection. I try to take my holiday cash and put it into visits and dinners with family. We don't need a damn thing for the holidays, treat the ones you love to conversation and a great meal. So worth it!

5. When you do give, GIVE GIFTS FROM CONSCIOUS COMPANIES. I give client gifts as I am so grateful for my great work partners and I give gifts from companies like Aveda (Aveda candles are a PERFECT gift)!

Make the holidays meaningful - start by being a conscious spender! Be green and save green!


Scott & Allison Snyder said...

Great post - and it didn't sound very "rant-y" at all! I have been trying to convince my family to do the charity project - we gave to Heifer International last year and will again this year. It's fun to say, "We bought a llama for Christmas!" But this year they want to do the charity AND the presents. So I'm glad we're giving to charity again, but it defeats the purpose of 1) saving money and 2) saving stress of buying stuff we don't need and have no room to store! So this year Xmas is MORE money than normal! Argh. How many years did it take your family to "get it"? Allison

leaflover said...

Hi Allison!
It's so tough to get family to not want to do presents. It took two years to really have it sink in with parents, inlaws and siblings, but now we appreciate it...although my parents get off the wagon every once in a while. happy holidays!