Reflections on Christmas shopping, and why retailers hate people like me

By | December 24, 2011
I'm not sure how you pick gifts for people, but I'm one of those practical types. I don't like gimmicky seasonal gifts, and stay away from gifting that sort of thing too. I also don't like gifting new things that people want but don't need. So where do I turn?

1. Small everyday things that happen to have come up in conversation sometime. In particular recurring things that are in a state of disrepair / have been self-repaired for the 20th time.

2. Recycling crafts. Again, the goal is to create something practical, stylish, and memorable. This works particularly well for children's toys, since I find that the sterilized 'over-safe' products on the market don't let children explore the how of how their toys work, but instead promote narrow-minded 'use it as you're told and not in any other way' mentality. This doesn't have to take a lot of time, but does require some planning in advance so that the necessary 'garbage pieces' are available when you want to assemble your craft – I don't go to purchase craft supplies. Either there are leftovers from the masses of packaging we get, leftovers from renovations, or other people's leftovers found during random 'Sperrmuell' scouts in the neighbourhood.

3. Services. I don't mean a cupon, I mean secretly getting something done and being able to present the results on time. I got my present two days early this year: my husband finally freed the kitchen from a mouse infestation that has plagued us for several months.

4. The 'emergency presents': for people who I don't interact with often enough to know what they need, I keep a suitcase full of random gifts – things that others have given us and we don't need, or things that I pick up sometime because they had some appeal at that time. This tradition goes back to my childhood: my mother always had a box from which we could choose a gift when another kid had a birthday party, based on that concept.

From the things listed above, there aren't very much costs involved, and none that go towards holiday-themed decorations/gimmicks that keep coming out to try and persuade consumers to spend. Obviously not very nice to retailers counting on increased holiday spending to drive Q4 revenues… imagine if a whole community adopted this philosophy. The economy would tank – that's why I think corporations anf governments try so hard not to promote DIY communities. But it is an approach that reaches to people. Why waste more than we have to?

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