01 December 2009

Buy Nothing Day and Creative Gifting

While it is a few days late, I will say I did not buy anything on Buy Nothing Day. I didn't feel as if I was making any difference because I've already been trying to consume less, buy less, use less and I'm not a big Christmas gift giving person. I usually just focus on my immediate family. I don't even send Christmas cards. Although in an effort to get rid of the hundreds of pages of magazine clippings and arts & crafts in my apartment, I am making homemade cute Christmas cards this year. At the rate I'm going, people may receive them by next Christmas. Or maybe I'll give myself an extra week and call them, "New Year Cards" or something. Any hoo.

I have no intention of shopping. I shop for what I need and give myself a few indulgences. Although lately, I'm loving the empowerment behind creating and making my own products, that even my beauty indulgent purchases have decreased.

(I must admit. I did just purchase another bottle of Marc Jacobs perfume. Its my signature scent and I was out. Even though I have probably 10+ bottles of other perfumes that i need to go through. Ugh. I know. I know. I'd give them away but they are half empty or 1/3 empty. Who's going to take that? I mean if you want it, you are welcomed to it. I'll ship them to you for free. Email me and I'll send you the list of all the kinds I have and I will send them your way. This would really help my personal guilt.)

I digress.

Everyone in my family already has their "holiday gift" except my five year old sister. I use the "" not because i said holiday but because I don't really do "date specific" gifts like birthday gifts, anniversary gifts, christmas gifts. I am the person who will purchase or make something that's perfect for you and give it to you right then. So my mother received her "birthday gift" two months before her actually birthday. It was an all expense paid trip to Vegas for five days.

Last month my mother received her christmas gift early. Her laptop broke down and so I bought a brand new one for her with an external hard drive, with facial recognition software, with microsoft office...it was fully loaded! It wasn't really a christmas gift. Had this occurred in July, she would have received it then or whenever the need arose. Considering all the things my mother does with her laptop..homeschool children, take online classes her self, coordinate meet up groups, research, business and such...purchasing her a new one is granola. Laptops are multi-functional devices. Her's came with a built in camera, built in speakers, media player, dvd player...all that good stuff. Perfect for her life on the go.

There were a few things i could have done different or still can.
  1. Recycle her old laptop. (She is still transferring all her files and software to the new one but once she is done, the old one can be recycled. Actually as I type this I realize she's using the old one as a backup for home use)
  2. I could have purchased a refurbished laptop for half the price I paid and the possibly spent more money on more programs and such for her. Or purchased two refurbished laptops for the price of one brand new one. (Yea. So I definitely forgot to think about that! Even my mac laptop was purchased used. It was two months old when I purchased it off Craigslist with the original receipt. But for my mom's computer I did receive multiple discounts and shaved over $500 off the cost of the laptop and some software)
All in all. My mother has her Christmas gift sans the home made creative holiday card that I have yet to make.

My siblings also have their "holiday gift." Although it has little to do with Christmas. In an effort to promote the growth of their personal character, I started a project called the Ipod Project. The three older kids have eight weeks to accumulate a certain amount of points in various categories such as Character, Stewardship, Chores, School and Relationships in order to win an Ipod Touch. Each catergory has sub-categories. There is a cap on how many points they can receive per day and they can also lose points. They can not get points in the same sub-categories two days in a row in order to encourage a holistic approach to improvement. We have this whole elaborate chart where the tally is kept and they can only receive positive points by having another sibling take notice and they can only lose points by admitting it themselves. (They are notorious for ragging on each other.) If they receive bonus points, they can even win a $25 itunes gift card for music.

I must say I am having fun with the competition. There have already been improvements. They are behaving more positively towards each other. They are taking the initiative more. They are trying new things and thinking creative and I love it. We modeled the categories in areas where we knew each child needed improvement, or after general character traits that benefit any human functioning in the world and after their own suggestions for things. According to my mom, they are each on track to receive their very own iPod Touch.

(My three sisters and brother. I am in the middle. Bianca (15) is on my left. Hanna (10 soon to be 11) is on my right. Dasia (5) is in front of me. Daniel (14) is behind me.)

How is this sustainable? Because it focuses on the need to sustain ourselves! You can save the world, the trees, and the rabbit's fur but of what use is it without high functioning human beings. What use is the a beautiful sky without people to stop and appreciate it. We focus on saving the earth for the future. But we sometimes neglect the children that are the future. And teaching a child to pay attention to stewardship encourages a sustainable mindset.

Also the prize is multi functional. Music player. Planner. Email A billion Apps. This prize is SO worth it!

The end date is near Christmas time so if it makes the holiday gods happy, I can label it as their "holiday gift."

Mr. Officer and I are not exchanging gifts because I'm too lazy to think creatively and make or buy one. Who knew laziness could help me consume less. :)

I will also be repurposing things around my home as gifts for a few select friends. I have a bad habit of purchasing multiple coffee and tea mugs and for someone living alone..there is no justification in having 30+ coffee mugs. Since they are brand new with the price tags still stamped on, I will be filling them with packets of tea, hot cocoa and such and giving them as gifts to friends. It's the same with the WAY too many candles and other cute little things around my house that i have too many off. I'll add some flair and love and someone else will be able to use what's just crowding my space.

You are going to come across many blogs with holiday party ideas, green gifting ideas, no stress ideas, creative ideas and all that goodness. A lot of them have great ideas and are very useful. What i encourage. Just find what works for you. If you do like to shop and buy gifts for everyone you love..I encourage you to find gifts for them that will be used and not end up in the back of the closet. Create, repurpose or purchase gifts that hold meaning or that will last. Its not about finding "green gifts" per se. Its about finding ways to sustain life. Rather than buying a barbie for your little girl...although I LOVED barbies as a child. Buy or MAKE a game that your entire family can play. Instead of buying lots of new books...purchase used books or write and illustrate a fun, silly, or adventurous story for your children or with your children. Wouldn't that be a great gift. To make a "book writing kit" that includes story ideas, crayons, paper and such and then to tell your child you will have a special day where you write a book together. I may actually steal my own idea!

Now that "Buy Nothing Day" is officially over, what are you buying this holiday season and why? How are you shopping for sustainable gifts? What creative gifts are you making?

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