Low-impact Christmas

So far, I have resisted the magic advertising pens of the marketing departments of the large corporations. I did not run out & buy any unneeded gadget on Black Friday- for myself or as a gift. I have yet to step foot into a toy store this season.

And yet, I think that might change. I do need to get Christmas shopping done at some point. We have about 75% of our list left to buy for, and a planned-ahead Christmas budget to draw out of. Josh & I have decided that the house counts as a big gift for both of us, so we're not getting much for each other this year, just little things. I just want to bless my loved ones with something they'll enjoy (and, hopefully, use). Unfortunately, I have barely even started thinking about what those things may be.

Josh and I had a discussion earlier about having a "low-impact Christmas"- buying gifts that won't someday end up in a landfill. Ideas I've seen for this include:
  • Giving experiences as gifts rather than things- tickets to a movie, concert, or play, gift certificates to restaurants, etc.
  • Giving to an organization in the name of the gift recipient. Picking an organization the recipient cares about is a bonus. Along these lines, an idea I heard at church this week: giving family members "gift certificates" for a donation and letting them choose where they would like a monetary gift to go. It's particularly fun with organizations that put out "catalogs" with suggested donation amounts for needed items. World Vision has an annual catalog, and it's fun to imagine your gift going directly toward buying a goat or a couple rabbits or a chicken for a family that needs them. Our church put together a similar 'catalog' listing some of the ministries outside the walls of the church that it supports, with the opportunity to make a specific gift to one of those ministries. It also includes examples of an amount and what the money could go toward.
  • Giving something recycled or secondhand. This may check an item off a Christmas list AND save an item from becoming waste in a landfill.
  • Giving nothing but quality time. In a hurried culture (especially around the holidays!), just slowing down to enjoy family is a gift.
I'll be honest- we don't plan on having a totally-low-impact Christmas this year, but it's in the back of our minds. I like the idea very much, and a big part of it would be explaining to our loved ones why we have no wrapped boxes for them to open. It will also take more creativity on our part. We're still learning, and will get there someday.

What do you think? Is it worth having a "low-impact Christmas", pulling back from both waste and consumerism? or are a few gifts to open both symbolic of God's gift to us and fun for the family? What other ideas do you have for your gift-giving?


CresceNet said...
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Lisa said...

We did buy nothing Christmas (buynothingchristmas.org I think) last year. IT WAS AWESOME. Would love to do it every year. Wish I could get my family on board.

ashley @ twentysixcats said...

I personally am not a fan of no gifts. I know some families like to pool their money and donate to charity. Me, I get such an intense pleasure at finding the perfect gift. It doesn't have to be bought, but this season of gift giving really means a lot to me. And I'm not trying to say I just want to GET gifts; I really truly enjoy GIVING gifts to those I care about. I would do it anyways - I'm always buying people random gifts for no particular reason.

I love your ideas of giving experiences. I also like giving gifts that we can enjoy together. For example, I once got a friend a gift certificate to a store she loved. I said the condition was that we go together to pick something out. I loved the hour or so we spent together, and I think she had fun picking out something she wanted!

Something I've never done but I am looking at it more this year is giving used-but-good-condition things. My sister needs a number of very expensive items for school. I know I can help her out more if I get them used (and cheaper), and she won't care.

But yeah, wrapped boxes mean a lot to me so I don't think I would ever go completely presentless for Christmas. But hey, if your love language isn't gifts then it probably doesn't affect you as much! Just make sure that your loved ones who have gifts as their love language aren't getting unnecessarily hurt. :-)

Corey said...

I agree with Ashley. I absolutely love finding and giving that perfect gift. Its hard sometimes, and requires a lot more effort. But the expression you get to see when they open it is definitely worth it. My Father's side of the family is so large that we do a drawing at Thanksgiving. Everyone's name goes in a hat and then you draw for who you will get to give a gift to that year. Its worked well for years and really takes the pressure off.

Bethany said...

I'm impressed with your ideas for a low-impact Christmas. I think I'll give my husband an "experience" gift this year, since we've just moved to a new place, maybe a signing us up for a class would be good, since we could meet people too.

I'd love to give to charity in all the names on my list, but I'm afraid my in-laws might feel cheated or something, since they really enjoy expensive gift giving. I may just cut the budget in half and give half to food for the poor and spend half as much on everyone with an explanation of their "donation" attached.

I also love to give gifts and presents are definately my love language, but I've learned to just allow myself to give for no reason all through the year now, and that's really taken away some of the stress of occasions.

I love the idea of giving used or recycled things. I've an article recently on my blog about that here. http://beppycat.blogspot.com/2007/11/frugal-gift-baskets.html

Thank you for this post. I'm looking forward to looking through your blog some more.

Promotional Pens said...

Giving the perfect gift can be very fulfilling!


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