It’s Buy Nothing Weekend for the anti-commercialism activists among us. I’ve had this idea for a while to whip up some DIY gift ideas for this special day. Things you can do yourself rather than buy. But the more I think about it, this one single overwhelming fact becomes clearer and clearer to me with an intensity that is not surprising but nevertheless shocking: there is hardly anything we do these days that does not involve a monetary transaction. We pay to eat, drink, be able to communicate with others (phone and internet bills anyone?), exercise (gym membership), and so on and so forth.
So what can we do, without spending a penny, to show our loved ones our affection and to make them happier? Here are a few ideas that will not cost you a thing, or for which you will be using things you’ve already spent money on in the past but haven't used up (cause you probably didn't need them in the first place, right?...). They may not be all that great either – you will probably come up with way better ideas of your own. And I have that terrible feeling deep down that the following will look not so much like the Smellyblog entry anyone was ever looking forward to read, but rather more like one of those cheesy, wisdom-dripping emails that land in your mailbox every other day and usually originate from a remote friend or an aunt who thinks that sending spam to your mailbox will make you remember her birthday…
But at least I tried!
The purpose of Buy Nothing Day is to shift the emphasis from materialism and consumerism and the fake feeling of happiness that gift-giving has developed into – into an emphasis on strengthening the connection between people by spending meaningful time with one another. Buying less is the greatest gift we can give the to environment this season, that’s for sure.
Before you buy a gift, ask yourself:
1) Is this gift useful? Would the person receiving it be able to use it in a meaningful way?
2) Would it make the person who will receive it HAPPY?
3) How, where and by whom was it made? If the answer is not clear and you are not sure this was made ethically, you might want to find something similar that was made elsewhere.
4) How am I going to carry this home? Most of the trash we produce is because of packaging and shopping bags. Bring your own bag whenever possible. If you didn’t bring a bag with you that means that you were not planning to shop or spend money, so perhaps you can re-think your purchase…
5) And last but not least – can I afford buying this? If not, perhaps you should wait until you can afford it and avoid unnecessary debt.
And here are a couple of other ideas that will reduce the holiday stress and also make you buy less:
1) Invite your friends for dinner, but instead of cooking it for them, cook it WITH them. Teach them your favourite recipe and enjoy an evening of sensory delights that will make you feel and live the moment.
2) Making your own gifts is fun and can also be easy. I will dedicate a whole post for that later this season with ideas for fragrant DIY gifts. However, keep in mind the same guidelines mentioned earlier for gift buying – is the gift useful at all? Would the person receiving it be able to enjoy it? Or would they be just pretending… Some gifts are better than others, so make sure you put your efforts in the right direction. As a general guidelines, gifts that can be further personalized (i.e.: a picture frame – your friend can choose the picture); edible gifts (i.e.: cookies and baked goods, jams, preserves…) usually garner more attention than others.
3) Instead of forwarding chain emails to your friends, have the courage to pick up the phone when they call you up (even though you may have not spoken to them for a while). They might actually really need to talk to a human voice of a real person who loves them and cares for them.
4) Using materials you already have at home, write your loved ones a card telling them what you like most about them. I am sure this will make them happy. You may use a pen and paper (something most of us already have at home), or you can even cut out letters from old magazines and newspapers to make up the words. Finish your message with a spritz the card with a scent that you think they'll like which will leave a fragrant layer to your message.
5) And finally - for the die hard perfumistas among us - throw a perfume party (which could be combined with a perfume exchange party, if you know others with the same "problem" like you). A perfume party is all about sharing our innermost feelings and getting to know each other better while having fun sniffing beautiful perfumes. Pick a few fragrances, or a few essential oils or spices that mean something to you, and share them around in circle (either on a scent stripe, or from the jar if you are smelling other things). Each friend will share their reactions, impressions, memories and thoughts regarding the smell. You can get even more creative by writing short poems or story about each scent and than reading them aloud. It's all about sharing the moment and a piece of your human existence with friends and loved ones, and can make you become even closer.
For more ideas for Buy Nothing Day and Buy Nothing Christmas visit:
How To Do Things