Day 25 & 26 of the Spending Freeze Challenge – Holiday Stress

Mashing together two days of the Spending Freeze Challenge in honor of two upcoming holidays.

Day 25 had me thinking about that other number 25 that’s coming up soon – ya know, the one in December? I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but Target has its Christmas decorations out, my local grocery store has started selling Christmas cards right next to the Halloween candy display and OH, THAT’S RIGHT IT’S NOT EVEN HALLOWEEN YET. Sorry, I’ll simmer down. I struggle, every year, with the commercialism of the holidays. Whether you are Christian, Jewish or agnostic, the holiday season has become all about “bigger and better” including stores opening ON THANKSGIVING for shoppers to take advantage of deals. My heart breaks for the minimum wage employee forced to work the checkout at Wal-Mart during their Thanksgiving day hours. So, how does one embrace a sense of minimalism in a season full of pressure to spend more, more and more?  Here are my simple suggestions for your early season preparation for the holidays:

  • Consider pledging to avoid shopping on Thanksgiving. Memes like the one below are up on Facebook and many sites give you a list of retailers that are vowing to stay closed on the holiday. It’s a small gesture, but don’t allow yourself to get sucked in to the consumerist mindset after you’ve done such a rock star job this month at NOT spending.10703555_10154830237090294_6991730601716322199_n
  • If you must shop on Black Friday, consider doing so from home. Save yourself the long lines and the insane temptation that comes with seeing all those “AMAZING, ONE-TIME ONLY DEALS!” Retailers are making online offers just as compelling. So, snuggle up with your loved ones, order your must-haves and go eat some leftover turkey.
  • Warn family members of your minimalist plans for the year – perhaps you’re cutting back on gifts or planning to donate to charity instead of hunting down the perfect gift for everyone. Let them know, with a phone call or message, that you’ll be sticking to a minimalist plan this year and would ask that they do the same for you.
  • Consider a simple, homemade gift as an option for every family member. Need ideas? One of my favorite sites, 100 Days of Real Food, shared these great suggestions.
  • Begin to look for, and mark on the calendar, free events in your city for families. We visit two different tree lighting ceremonies-one in a nearby small town and one in downtown Cleveland. They’re two different experiences, and a joy to add to our season.
  • If you have little ones, look for a low-key Santa to visit. There’s no stress like the visit to Santa at the mall – if you handle that visit well, then you deserve to be sainted while you still walk among the living. We visit a Santa who sets up in a local park. Our only fee for photos is a canned food donation for the local food bank. It is a peaceful, calm visit and allows us to avoid the retail temptations that come with a visit to the mall. (Side note – if you want to read a hilarious account of someone working as a Santa elf, check out David Sedaris’ Santaland Diaries. You can listen to him read it aloud here.)

What are your solutions for a stress-free holiday season?

Day 24’s Post

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