November has arrived, the holiday season is officially upon us, and with it the many joys this time of year brings. People are unpacking their sweaters, making mulled wine, and preparing for the season of giving. This “season of giving” takes many different forms. Frequently it’s the offering one’s time through travel, parties, and festive get-togethers. It may be the giving of oneself in the form of peace, love, and forgiveness. In other cases it is the ceaseless giving of gifts. These gifts also take many forms including shiny new bikes, coveted toys, and stylish clothing – many of which may be soon forgotten or unappreciated.
My family has always taken part in gift-giving, spending the better part of Christmas morning exchanging gifts we spent labored hours choosing for one another. Some of these gifts were brand new, others were a bit more special having been self-made – such as my sister’s ground flour and homemade syrups, my other sister’s treasured artwork, or my mom’s hand-sewn purses and bags. There were also many gifts that could be considered hand-me-downs, perhaps my parents’ older camping gear or furniture for example. Whether the gifts were brand new, homemade, or hand-me-down, they were all equally loved and appreciated.
No doubt you have heard numerous complaints about the growing consumerism of the American Holiday season. Christmas goods are on the shelves before leaves turn yellow, movies and music take over favorite stations, and commercials ramp up the need to shop, shop, shop. This level of consumerism detracts from the reason for the season, hope, love, and charity, putting a focus more on budgets, giving, and getting.
My family, fortunately, have reached that point, where we feel blessed to have all that we need. Therefore, making a Christmas list this year was more challenge than pleasure. Our solution – we would nix the shopping season, and replace it with a homemade or hand-me-down holiday. Every gift must be made or gently used. For example, a pair of chacos that have many years of good use but inevitably give me a blister with every raft trip, is a perfect gift for my sister-in-law who loves them. A pair of earrings I rarely wear because they don’t match many outfits are a great choice for my other sister who loves green. My husband’s tools he rarely uses might make a good gift for his brother-in-law who just bought his first house. I have taken up quilting, so this too will contribute to many of my family gifts.
In this way, we are not contributing to the consumer apocalypse taking over our favorite holiday season. Instead we are decreasing our family footprint, and choosing to turn the season of giving into something more – one based on a season of love, sharing, and time spent together rather than time wasted in a stressful, loud, and pushy shopping mall.
If you are considering a homemade and hand-me-down holiday, here are a few tips to help your family be more successful:
- Don’t feel like you are obligated to give every person a gift.
One of the main contributors to holiday waste, is the drive to give a gift to everyone. Avoid this inclination, and instead only buy gifts when you find something people will enjoy. Your family members should understand, especially if you make something for them that is simple and sweet. See #2.
- Cooking items are a great gift.
My husband specializes in the kitchen, so his homemade gifts often take the form of pickles, olives, and spices. He makes a mean blackened spice which is often a gift in special, reusable glass jars.
- Consider picking Secret Santa’s.
One way to cut back on the stress of a homemade/hand-me-down holiday, is to choose Secret Santa’s. This way you only have one or two people to plan gifts for rather than your whole family. If your family is large like mine, this is especially helpful.
Christmas is a season of giving, but more importantly it is a time for hope, love, and charity. Wipe out stress this holiday season, by avoiding shopping and choosing a season based on gifts that are meaningful, and time spent with the ones you love. I promise, it will make it the most memorable holiday yet!