In the wake of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, our place as a consumer society is more evident than ever. These shopping “holidays” also serve as the launching point for the most consumer driven month of the year: December. With holidays fast approaching, December can be an extremely stressful time for many. The expectation to buy gifts for every person in your life that you care about–and sometimes don’t–often results in panic attacks and maxed-out credit cards.
But what if there was another way? Contrary to popular belief, spending tons of time and energy buying presents is not a vital component to the holiday season. In my opinion, the whole concept of gift giving, for anyone out of childhood, feels more like a routine than genuine care. Most of us already have everything we need, so why are we spending our money on more things that provide temporary happiness? Not to mention, consumer culture is incredibly unsustainable, and this is only amplified during the holidays.
All of this is not to say that you should take cues from the Grinch and refuse to participate in holiday activities, but instead I am presenting an alternative to hectic trips to the mall and mindless spending.
Here are five things to give this holiday season BEYOND “things”:
1. An experience
This year, my boyfriend and I decided that instead buying each other things, we would spend the money on an experience we can do together. For us, this meant splurging on a nice hotel and going out for dinner. This idea has endless possibilities and is honestly a lot more exciting than receiving another clothing or tech item that you don’t really need. Moreover, it will provide a lasting memory that will never go out of style.
2. Baked goods/food
If you’re tight on cash and like to cook or bake, this is a perfect way to show people you care. Nothing says “I love you” like a fresh batch of cookies.
If you feel that you have everything you could want or need, ask your family/friends to make a donation to your favourite charity in lieu of a gift. Giving back and coming together as a community is what the holiday spirit is all about!
Spending money on a membership for someone else is the perfect way to show you genuinely care about their interests. Whether it be a gym membership, museum pass, or cooking class, you can really customize this gift based on who you’re buying for.
5. Homemade cards
Another great way to save money and still give a meaningful gift is to make holiday cards. All you’ll need is some crafting supplies and a Pinterest account.
If you’re still super keen on buying things, my suggestion is to do a Secret Santa with your family or friends. This is a great way to reduce stress and really focus on giving something meaningful to one person instead of a bunch of small things for everyone. Having everyone open their gifts together and guess who got what for who is also a really fun bonding experience!
The most important thing to keep in mind is that this season should be about spending time with people you love and coming together to enjoy one another’s company. As you are bombarded with advertisements this December, remember that your value as a person is not dependent on what things you can or cannot buy. These companies spend millions of dollars on advertising not because they think their products will genuinely help you, but because they want to make money. At the end of the day, the most important gift you can give is yourself–your time, your energy, and your love.
Happy Holidays HC UBC!
All gifs taken from giphy.com; images taken from Google images