This holiday season, Americans are slated to spend more than $178 billion ($823, on average, per person) on gifts. Most of this will be from online purchases, and thus we’ll have the double whammy—not just more new stuff, but individually packaged and delivered, too. I don’t mean to be a grinch, but the holiday season is pretty horrible for the environment.
The pandemic saw giant gains in online companies like Amazon. In fact, according to an article written by Forbes in April, 2021, Amazon’s stock increased by 87% over the 15 months prior, which led to an $86 billion dollar increase in CEO Jeff Bezos’s fortune. As the world’s richest person, Bezos is the first person in history to be worth more than $200 billion.
Our consumerist, capitalistic society has developed these norms in which we are expected to gift something new. Let’s strike back against that this year. Instead of lining the pockets of billionaires and trashing the environment, let’s rethink our holidays. Here are 11 gifts better than that New Thing you want to get from Amazon.
- Something homemade. Pinterest has millions of ideas, as do those DIY pages that pop up on social media. Bonus points if you make it with materials you already have. I recently saw the cutest lounge area for cats made out of an old suitcase and chair legs.
- A family recipe. Has the gift recipient ever complimented one of your signature dishes? Make it for them again, and this time, include the recipe. This is a gift that keeps on giving.
- This is another gift that can last forever. Indoor plants (from a cutting), seeds, outdoor plants. Your gift might grow into a lovely lilac bush that flowers for years to come. And house plants have so many benefits, including removing toxins from the air!
- A used book/book suggestion. Giving a book as a gift is great, but we often feel like we need to buy new. But what about giving a book that you already own? Or even simply giving a book suggestion? Many people have free (library) or low-cost (Audible) access to books anyway, and really, just giving them the suggestion shows that you’re thinking about them and what they may like.
- Used items. It’s easy to find gently used children’s clothes at local thrift stores. Bookmans has used puzzles, games, music, and books. Buying new is costlier and less eco-friendly. Let’s normalize gifting used items.
- Local treats. In Flagstaff, we have so many to choose from! Olive the Best olive oils and vinegars are a fun gift, in part because you can go in and taste test to find favorite flavors. Recently, I discovered Chocolita, which makes all organic chocolate truffles and sipping chocolate. Mead is also quirky and fun.
- Local artisan gifts. I see these pop up on local pages on social media. Also, the Market of Dreams sells items made by local artisans.
- An experience. Get tickets to a show, a movie, a locally-owned restaurant, the zoo. Or an annual pass to a museum or art gallery. The recipient can decide when and with whom to use them, and it gives them an excuse to do something different.
- Your labor. Watch their child(ren) for a few hours so they can run some errands, or clean the house, or take a nap. Or watch their animals so they can spend a few days away. Or join them in a big house task, like painting the house or cleaning the garage. Many hands make light work, and you can have fun while doing it.
- Your time. Simply spend quality time with someone. Put away your phone for the duration. Take a walk in a beautiful area. Practice listening deeply. Feel your bond grow. Our society has led us to believe that our presence is not enough of a “gift.” It is.
- Your memories. Make a scrapbook, photobook, or calendar of pictures. Write a letter of all the highs and lows of the year, and the goals for the year ahead.
So this year, let’s rethink our gifting. Talk with your friends and relatives. Try finding gifts better than what you can get online. Explain that you’d like to avoid the Amazon holiday craze. Share this list with them and make a pact to stick to it. Assure them (and yourselves) that you don’t need to spend a certain amount on each person in order to feel that you can check them off your list. Make sure you’re all on board with it. Then, let the gifting commence!