The days are shorter and yellowing leaves are blowing past my front window. The displays are going up, and I opened an email to find a blog post about holiday traffic retention. Wow. flies when you dread cold weather.

Time for a Change?

Holiday shopping is winter anxiety’s home base. I don’t enjoy winter but find the holiday season baffling. I will never understand why some people follow the crowd into the frenzy.

I also don’t understand painful visits with dysfunctional families, but let’s save that for another time.

How much time did you spend on gifts during last year’s holidays? Do you have friends who are still paying for last year’s gifts?

Is the real goal of to limit your freedom during the following calendar year?

For the longest time, I thought I was the only person who thought something was terribly wrong with holiday shopping, but I’ve seen a change during the last five years. Slowly but surely, people are getting tired of the consumer-centered holiday season. They’re opting out and finding alternatives to shopping while staying true to their values. I wanted to share some of the options people are using to wean themselves from  the Pavlovian conditioning called Christmas shopping. Hopefully, more people will try some of these alternatives.

Give the Irreplaceable

Outside of our planet, there’s nothing more precious or valuable than time. Used wisely or foolishly, you cannot replace it. Break the law and the city or state takes it from you or demands a “reasonable facsimile thereof”- also known as money.  Time grows a cluster of unrecognizable cells into new beings and lets water wear mountains to dust.

A few friends have decided to give their time instead of spending cash. One couple visited elderly neighbors and relatives during last year’s holidays, then kept visiting them for special occasions. Why not do the same? If you are uncomfortable with a sit-and-chat visit, why not gather a few friends and do some outside chores, like cleaning up a cluttered yard or painting the trim on a senior’s home?

You may have your own cluttered home. Instead of buying or accepting more, why not collect the old clothing and old shoes that you haven’t used in a year or so and give them to a local charity?

[bctt tweet=”Actually, you’re giving this to yourself  by changing your holiday shopping habits. ” via=”no”]

Give Power

You’ve heard how impossible college is these days. Most families able to send their children to college will pay a small fortune,  destroying all hopes of retiring without needing a part-time job. Until things change, the only path to personal power –  the power to live on one’s own terms, the power to put food on the table, the power to buy a home – will result from having some sort of post-secondary education, be it college or vocational school. Why not help a family by priming an education savings fund for one of their children?

Now, since I know little about the ins and outs of trusts, escrow accounts and the like you’ll need a professional financial planner, but I’ve heard about extended families setting up savings accounts to pool their funds. Their goal is making sure at least one or two of their descendants make it through  a two or four-year program. I often wonder why more families don’t follow suit, but you could be the first to  help a bright cousin, niece or nephew find their way to an academic life after high school and a respectable level of freedom after that.

Don’t have any young relatives? Maybe you know an adult who, despite being a hard worker, has been unemployed for a while. Let’s face it. Once you hit 45, sudden unemployment is a disaster few can recover from. Why not help an older worker with an online class that can help them build income? These classes can be inexpensive (under $100.00) or moderately priced ($200.00 to $400.00) but much less than a degree, which may be thousands of dollars.

 Give Freedom

Actually, you’re giving this to yourself when you change your holiday shopping and gifting habits. However, this change needs . You already have skills you can use as gifts. You just need to pick two that you don’t mind sharing. Brainstorm before Halloween and you can send greeting cards with little redeemable coupons for the gift, by Thanksgiving. The text needn’t rival that of a professional copywriter. It just needs to say what the gift is i.e. painted house trim, three yard mowing sessions or two homemade dinners per month…whatever you feel you can do without straining your schedule, or your back.

If you have a political streak, you can take pride in denying corporations fuel for their agenda, in favor of connecting with deserving people in and around your life. When spring arrives, you’ll look at your credit card statements knowing that the low balance reflects a holiday shopping season wisely spent.

 

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Copyright 2015 Insanity's Daughter
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