A Slow Shopping Strategy for the Holidays

I love the holidays and their traditions, beginning with Thanksgiving from our very own Dancegiving (which involves breaking into dance as we watch the Macy's Day Parade), to eating and drinking too much (with little regret). We shoot our family photos, bake pumpkin chocolate chip cookies and express gratefulness for the lives we have.

The second Thanksgiving is over, we turn our attention to shopping for gifts.

This used to be a great source of tension and stress for me. What is the perfect gift? What if he/she doesn't like it? What to I do about office giving? And how do I figure out who even makes my list?

As the years pass, my questions evolve. Do they really need all this stuff? Do I need another mug, more athletic wear or a fancy box of paperclips? Should I regift?!!!

As I increase my awareness of slow fashion and slow everything, I'm also aware that the conversation and case for slow and conscious giving is a growing one.

In a recent article in the New York Times the author makes a great case for early and slow shopping, reducing waste and giving more with less. Here are just a few of her suggestions:

  • Buy less and buy well,” recommended Shilpi Chhotray, a spokeswoman for The Story of Stuff Project, a nonprofit group. “The gifts we can give can be thoughtful and helpful instead of impractical and contributing to more clutter.”

  • Try to avoid single-purpose car trips. Rather, combine your holiday buying with other errands or do it on your way home from work. That, said Miguel Jaller, who studies sustainable transportation systems at the University of California, Davis, means “the marginal distance for doing that shopping is really, really small.”

  • Give and receive secondhand things. And, we’re not talking about shabby castoffs. Think about distinctive collectibles, beautiful old books, vintage jewelry and antique household items.

  • Make a climate-friendly donation in someone’s name instead of making a purchase, you have a lot of options.

  • Gift cards can also help your friends and family avoid unwanted stuff. Or, you could make a gift of your time. For example, giving someone a day off from chores or making them a special meal.

  • Finally, don’t forget the wrapping paper. According to one estimate, 25 percent more trash than usual is thrown out between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. A recent study also found that Americans spent $12.7 billion on gift wrapping in 2017. A whole lot of that paper ends up in landfills because most of it can’t be recycled. One way to bring that down is gift bags, with a note asking that people reuse them.

Our family has developed the ritual of making lists of very specific (link to website) gift requests. I know exactly what I'm giving and getting this year. The stress and anxiety is at bay. No surprises, and the sentiment means more knowing that the gifts I give and receive are going to be put to use. And if I do get a candle, another coffee mug or athletic wear, it's going to replace a few that I can either donate or use for my next art project (haha).

What is your gift giving strategy this year? Please share your ideas in the comments section below or send them my way.

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