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What do you do to tone down the commercialism of the holidays?

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 

How do you cut out commercialism around the holidays? I try to make most gifts, I also try to follow the idea of 1 want, 1 need, 1 read and 1 do. I also frequently give to the kiva fund or some organization like that in lieu of material gifts. How do you tone down the holidays?

post #2 of 25
Stay away from commercial tv and the mall, that's for darn sure.

I like this notion, too.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9IN0W3gjnNE

Oh, and just to be clear, I don't do xmas at all. I invented a small winter solstice tradition for my family.

And here's a funny I love to share! If only it could be true.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d9H9Fi4Qcus
post #3 of 25

-We stick close to home and craft, bake, & make homemade crafts throughout the month. 

-We attend local events (Santa in town vs the mall, a Waldorf school fair, a local winter fairy visit) which is wonderful fun + you're supporting local venues! 

-We keep our activities cheap (making hot coco + driving to look at lights on houses? Free + fun) 

-We try to make our own gifts, and those we can't we buy either local or handmade. 

 

 

It can be hard though because my family tends to spoil the kids..I have no problem with that and my immediate family is great at giving gift subscriptions (Kiwi Crate or Blaze Magazine) but everyone else it's an overload. And a lot of my family members don't NEED anything, and are extremely picky. My own mom or dad would love a homemade candle but I know they won't use them, and that hurts my heart a little *shrug* 

post #4 of 25

We have a $ limit on gifts and the kids are old enough to know it. It's very modest compared to most of our friends and neighbors. We try to focus on traditions instead.

post #5 of 25

well dd and i are big social people. so we enjoy people watching. we'd get a hot pumpkin drink and visit malls and check out the window decorations. we have looked at billboards and commercials whenever we have access to one as we dont really watch tv and never really have. 

 

but to answer your question - i myself am not a commercial person. all those things dont interest me but parts of christmas does. we'd go to book stores and check out new stuff. we'd look at diamond rings and discuss which one we'd like and which one we wouldnt. 

 

we are a poor family. so dd understands she gets what she gets. however though i never give presents to her during holidays. she gets enough. i give presents at other times. instead we 'do' things. we get presents for others. we go look at lights. dd has never associated 'getting' with christmas or birthday. 

 

that doesnt mean she hasnt wanted. she did when she was little and hadnt developed her sense. you want everything that you see. and then seh was ok in between and now she wants some teenagey things. i think its ok to want. its ok to desire expensive things. but its important to know where you are and not pine away for things you cant have. 

 

but bottom line is i am not sure if you can really do anything. i wonder if its a personality thing. some are attracted by shiny bling things and some dont care. i dont think its fair to hold those who want vs those who dont. its more about interest and not really materialism. 

post #6 of 25
Most of our Christmas traditions don't have to do with commercialism. We bake, we invite friends over, we decorate the house and admire others' decorations, we donate time and money to those in need, we sing carols, we "RACK" people (random acts of Christmas kindness -- so fun!), and yes, we buy and wrap gifts for our loved ones, but nothing outlandish. The kids don't seem to perceive gifts as the only good part of the season -- they love all of it, and they get a big kick out of watching people open the gifts they give.
post #7 of 25
I don't think we are big into consumerism- but we do celebrate with gifts smile.gif We take each child shopping by themselves (well so far this year the 3 big ones) and let them pick out and pay for little gifts for their brothers and sisters. It is fun and often we hit the thrift stores because we enjoy the variety more. We are trying to teach them to think of others and that it doesn't matter the price tag.... My Dh and I don't buy the kids toys- like ever-except for Christmas. This year we picked out 2 gifts each that we knew they would love- and that is it smile.gif We bake cookies, go to Christmas Eve service, the kids are going caroling, and we get together with family. We enjoy looking at Christmas lights. We enjoy making decorations (tomorrow for school we will do our annual reading paper train lol) We enjoy planning and decorating for Christmas dinner with my inlaws. My 4 yo is by far the most commercial of our family- he is the only one with a list and it is pages long. Everybody else just loves Christmas. Oh we also watch Christmas movies that I pick up at the thrift store and try to make a treat that coordinates with the theme of the movie- like hot chocolate with polar express and grinch floats with the grinch. We have fun making those ideas up. When our kids are bigger we plan on taking them to the shelter to serve meals- but that will be an all year round thing.
post #8 of 25

We have no money, so it makes it easy!  LOL!  Honestly though, my kids have never gotten a whole lot for the holidays, because we can't really afford a lot.  So they tend to be really thankful for everything they get.  They also don't tend to ask for really expensive things.  I do try to make gifts too.  I do a lot of crocheting and baking for gifts too.  

post #9 of 25

We focus on making gifts at our crafts table.  We have fun baking homey yummy things like breads and pastries that make the time feel more festive and the home smell sweet.  Trimming the tree and re-directing the kitties from attacking the ornaments by throwing their toy mice around for them instead is kind of the highlight of the month. My eldest has a lovely singing voice and we have been singing christmas carols to the baby nonstop because she loves it.  He also whistles them around the house.  My mother's visit is maybe even more the highlight, as she lives far away and the kids love grandma.    The relaxed time together off from school is the main point.  We don't have TV but we do watch lots of Christmas movies.  The gifts part is just not a big thing, and we don't go to malls.

post #10 of 25

I grew up in a very materialistic family, so I feel I've come a long way.  This year we only bought gifts for both sets of parents, and a few for my son.  My son is getting 2 gifts and some stocking stuffers for the bathtub (he hates the bath, so I'm trying to excite him).  For the rest of the family, we said that we're doing Christmas Light.  We can't afford gifts this year.  I think my brother-in-law is still buying nice gifts for everyone, so I may feel awkward about receiving his gift.

post #11 of 25

Singing Christmas songs together with the kids, baking cookies and treats, watching Christmas movies and classics on tv, feeling gratitude for all the good in our lives.... Enjoying the season and each moment it brings :heartbeat

post #12 of 25

We played Christmas charades the other night.  It was fun and very little prep work!  I like crafts and food, and even though they are not commerical, they are often not very *simple*.  Charades is.

post #13 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sativarain1 View Post

Singing Christmas songs together with the kids, baking cookies and treats, watching Christmas movies and classics on tv, feeling gratitude for all the good in our lives.... Enjoying the season and each moment it brings heartbeat.gif
Oh yes! Singing songs always brings out the holiday spirit, and it's fun and free. I only have one rule regarding Christmas songs in our house. We don't start listening to them until the ride home from my parent's house after Thanksgiving. It's the same rule my mother had when we were little. It's a weird little tradition, but the anticipation adds to the fun!

We have a lot of family traditions around the holidays, and I think that is also a way to tone down the commercialization of the season.
post #14 of 25
We only give gifts to the children in the family. It cuts down so much on the buying and the obligation. We still get the better part of the enjoyment.
post #15 of 25

Good thread, IM!  Consumerism is a challenge for me. I try my best because I don't think it's especially healthy for me but I admit that looking at "stuff" has some sort of odd appeal to me. I don't know how to describe it but it's almost like tuning out. The term "retail therapy" resonates strongly for me. ;-)  But, like a lot of the world, we don't have a lot of money and none of my immediate family would prefer to spend our "extra" money on stuff. I keep most of my consumerist urges in check by mostly buying second hand, which takes some of the negativity out of it but I will admit, not all. 

 

For the holidays I do tend to make most of the gifts we give to extended family. This year most of the people on my list are getting a piece of original art. Someone else is getting a Wonderbag, which is a sort of heat retention slow cooker. I'm super excited about this gift and I bought it a long time ago with this person in mind so it didn't feel like it was breaking the bank during the holidays. It's a commercial gift but seems to have a good cause. I shopped a little at a ceramics sale at my college. 

 

DH and I just don't exchange gifts because both of receive a lot of gifts and we'd rather save our energy and money on others this time of year. 

 

For our kids... 

 

I LOVE the "something you want, something you need, something to do, something to read" philosophy but it hasn't worked all that well for us so far. I like the idea of Christmas feeling plentiful (not sure why and I don't think it's "better") so I tend to patch things together with a combination of some second hand things and a couple store bought things. It's usually not too much but enough to feel super exciting to open. This year my older is getting a blanket (inexpensive) and I splurged on a few lovely art supply gifts (a pochade box, a light table, and some water soluble oils).  The light box is we'll share for the house (and something I actually bought with money from my birthday but it's a total share-able item so I'm letting DC open it). My younger daughter is getting a doll house that used to belong to her sister (but that she's never seen because it's been boxed up) and I did decide finally to get her a My Little Pony toy. I normally don't buy stuff like that but I guess I'm just getting a little less idealistic in my old age. Oh, and these adorable little bracelets that I found second hand. 

 

As for the rest of our family. Our kids have 1 GG, 6 grandparents, and 13 aunts and uncles. It can get pretty over the top with gift-giving. I don't know though... my 12 year old is still pretty mellow and gracious about it all. 

 

I think we get away with this level of gift giving by looking at this season as the time to stock up for the rest of the year. That and I LOVE receiving gifts. But I love to give gifts even more. I assume my DCs have internalized that this is a season of giving. 

post #16 of 25

I wish I knew. My partner is obsessed with it thanks to my ILs. :( They're both poor, but spend horribly on Christmas and demand that any gift money only be spent on luxuries- even knowing that we're a poor family. My partner is usually responsible, but on Christmas is the worst thanks to this upbringing. Two years ago we had to empty our bank account buying presents for their family (their family. I wasn't talking to my mother and I don't think we got my dad much.). This year my ILs got together $600 for us- demanding it all go towards Christmas presents. They live on another continent so wouldn't even know, but my partner still demanded we do it. It feels so awful- we're on welfare, we have student loans, we have to pay to fix the car.  We may be moving in 8 months and have to get rid of all of this, it's not even like the baby stuff can be used next time. I can appreciate putting some of it, maybe even half of it, towards Christmas- but all of it? It feels like such a waste.

 

I don't want to have Christmas turn into a fight... We had enough of a fight about how we can't afford to spend $3k we don't have to visit them for the holidays. I didn't have the will to fight over this.

 

It's nice to hear about how people avoid commercialization. I'd really like that- we'll almost certainly still do gifts, but it would be nice to keep it small and personal.

post #17 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by sillysapling View Post

I wish I knew. My partner is obsessed with it thanks to my ILs. greensad.gif They're both poor, but spend horribly on Christmas and demand that any gift money only be spent on luxuries- even knowing that we're a poor family. My partner is usually responsible, but on Christmas is the worst thanks to this upbringing. Two years ago we had to empty our bank account buying presents for their family (their family. I wasn't talking to my mother and I don't think we got my dad much.). This year my ILs got together $600 for us- demanding it all go towards Christmas presents. They live on another continent so wouldn't even know, but my partner still demanded we do it. It feels so awful- we're on welfare, we have student loans, we have to pay to fix the car.  We may be moving in 8 months and have to get rid of all of this, it's not even like the baby stuff can be used next time. I can appreciate putting some of it, maybe even half of it, towards Christmas- but all of it? It feels like such a waste.

I don't want to have Christmas turn into a fight... We had enough of a fight about how we can't afford to spend $3k we don't have to visit them for the holidays. I didn't have the will to fight over this.

It's nice to hear about how people avoid commercialization. I'd really like that- we'll almost certainly still do gifts, but it would be nice to keep it small and personal.
That has got to be maddening! Do you think if you worded it like, "You know, this bill(insert whatever you need) is really weighing on me. The nicest gift I could possibly think of would be to put half this money on it.", he might get it?
post #18 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by QueenOfTheMeadow View Post


That has got to be maddening! Do you think if you worded it like, "You know, this bill(insert whatever you need) is really weighing on me. The nicest gift I could possibly think of would be to put half this money on it.", he might get it?

Sadly, no. My in-laws specifically mentioned me when insisting it be spent on Christmas, because they knew I'd want to do exactly that, which my partner laughed about. :irked

 

My partner associates love with throwing money at people because my ILs were always poor but splurged on Christmas and my partner had a crap childhood and Christmas was the only consistently good memory. My partner has a LOT of messed up views about money due to ILs and their childhood, my partner's working on it- but it's slow going. It's a point of contention for other holidays (birthdays, valentine's day, etc)- my partner claims to do things "for me" that I don't want or really enjoy and cost money I'd rather not spend, and I'm very bad at trying to work out nice things for them because hand made stuff doesn't count. (I really think my partner has some sort of cognitive disconnect - because they really appreciate the hand made gifts, but then act as though I'm crap at giving gifts until I point out the hand made ones, it's like the only thing with staying power is brand name crap) The rest of the time the contention is over a nice meal at a place we can afford and a movie or something, things we can't do all the time but nothing to break the bank, not a huge deal but frustrating.

It is REALLY bad around Christmas, though. I have no idea how to deal with it, because most of it is my ILs. 

 

We had agreed to a modest budget- slightly more than I would have liked, but we could afford it. Then the ILs send us money, and, of course, it has to be added ON TOP OF the budget we'd already agreed on (rather than instead of, so, y'know, that budget could go towards necessities and we could still respect ILs' wishes). I know I should appreciate it- but I just can't. We live in a very small apartment, we do not have room for all of this stuff, we are going to have to give/throw it away, we actually had to spend money on things we wouldn't have and aren't sure either of us really wants just to spend all the money, it is a waste of money so that my partner's family can feel like they gave us something nice, and it is a message that I do NOT want my children learning.


Edited by sillysapling - 12/22/13 at 4:00am
post #19 of 25

SS, one of the things we do is find gifts that will feel really useful or positive in at least some way. Can you find a way to convince your in-laws that something more practical for the kids is a good use of this money? Really nice sports equipment, or an instrument, or quality art supplies that can be used for the entire family?  Museum memberships or lessons are another great way to go. A swimming pool membership, even. If you make it a point to talk to them about how useful these types of things are throughout the year, they may come to embrace this sort of spending. Imagine how nice it would feel to get a phone call from your grandchildren in August with another thank you for the wonderful gift they gave back in December! That's the sort of way I direct my family's extravagance.

 

If your in-laws insist on toys, I think I would make it a goal to find toys that can be used for a very, very long time (Legos, a beautiful doll, wood blocks) and for many different ages and generations of children or that would be a wonderful gift to hand down to a friend or another family member. 

 

One of the many things about being poor is having to buy poorly made, inexpensive things to get you by. These things end up being more expensive in the long run and don't contribute to a better quality of life.  If I were you I would splurge on something that will last a life-time and look at it as a financial investment. It's true that paying bills is probably the best use of your money but in the absence of that choice, choosing something like a beautiful pot, or some nice linens...or something... that will last a long time and make life a bit easier and more pleasant isn't a choice you need to feel guilty about. :love

post #20 of 25

I just noticed that your baby is really young. You know what you may consider is some great baby gear. Yea, none of that stuff is "necessary" but there are some great products out there that can make life much easier in the coming year or two. A lovely high-chair (or one of the many cool table/counter clip-on chairs), a beautiful sling or wrap (wraps are really useful and are very expensive), a stroller if you don't have one already. If you FF, perhaps you'd like to try some nice new bottles or some accessory for that like a really nice bag for you/baby. Or even some beautiful, comfortable, practical clothing (you can get a few sizes). Sometimes dealing with inlaws is less about trying to get them to do things your way and more about trying to find a way to fit their culture and values into your life in a way that you feel comfortable. 

 

I would also suggest if this is a reality of your life for the foreseeable future, that you do like I do -- think if the holidays as a time to receive things that you find yourself in need/want of the rest of the year. If in August I realize that my frying pan is too small for our growing family I will kind of store that up in the back of my mind as a nice potential gift. If my mom comments on how much she likes a piece of art I'm working on I will set that aside to give to her at the holidays. Also, gift giving is a GREAT time to support local artists or crafty friends. 

 

I do agree that the holidays can easily go in a very bad direction but I think there are ways to drive this bus to a place that feels good, even in keeping the whole idea of abundance.  

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