Friday, November 28, 2008

Holiday Shopping: What to Do?

I hope you all had a Happy Thanksgiving and were able to spend time in the way you love best! We had a relaxing and fun holiday. But also I've been thinking a lot about the subject of stuff and shopping.  

I've been conflicted about shopping these past few days, and nervous.  Yes, on Wednesday, I actually felt nervous about shopping, as ridiculous as that sounds. What should I do?
  • Should I buy nothing on Black Friday, like Reverend Billy & The Church of Stop Shopping recommend? (Great anti-consumerism movement, but probably not.)  
  • Should I brave the crowds at the big-box stores like I did in 2007 at 4:00 a.m? (Nope.)
  • Should I shop locally? (Yes, but am I going to pay more if I do this?)
Incidentally, last year was my first Black Friday shopping  experience.  When I asked a clerk where the carts were, he looked at me like I was nuts.  They were all taken, of course, within the first 3 minutes of the store opening.  I think my jaw may have dropped.  

My goals for holiday shopping this year were 3-fold:
  • We have enough stuff we don't use. Don't buy more.  
  • Don't be a Scrooge.  Gifts are nice.  Give thoughtful ones.
  • Don't go into credit card debt.  Stick to a limited budget ($300).  This amount is for 10 people, including all gifts for our 2 kids. I'm not sure how $300 for 10 people sounds to you. Some may think it is a huge amount, others about right, and some a pittance. 
Our holiday shopping is done. So, how did we do?  Here are the results:
  • I shopped at Target on the Monday before Black Friday and bought 3 board games. 2 for the kids, and 1 for an Adopt-a-Family donation at work. (So, it's really 11 people we bought for).  I thought games would be a good toy to encourage family together-time. 
  • Wednesday night (before T-day), I spent the evening internet shopping at They had some great wooden toys, games, creative toys, and science-experiment type toys. The bulk of our kids (and "cousins") toys were bought from here.  Free shipping and $10 off.  
Another good part?  I could see the total and match it up with my budget while in my jammies. Also, I once heard that companies like UPS/FedEx are much more astute in saving fuel when delivering, as opposed to your average shopper driving. So, perhaps less fuel will be use this way?
  •  Black Friday: My mother-in-law went to Walgreen's to pick up a Hannah Montana guitar on sale for our daughter.  Our little girl loves Disney Princesses, Barbie, and Hannah.  What's a Striving Green family to do? Moderation: She'll get 2 of these types of toys. She already got a lot of these kinds of toys for her birthday a month ago.
  • I woke up early to go to Half-Price Books 20%-off Early Bird sale and bought some quality new children's books (discounted) and some used items for my husband. I'm not telling what, in case he is peeking!  
  • Last, I went to a locally owned gift shop to get the final presents.  I had a great coupon from my Blue Sky Guide, which is like a Happenings book for organic & green products, as well as local merchants.  I also picked up some micro-fiber towels for myself.  I'd like to break my paper-towel habit.
Total: $317.  A little over budget.  But not enough to make my head swim. Reducing our shopping and consumption: We're trying.  

How about you? I'd love to hear your thoughts on your approach to holiday shopping.  Are you trying to reduce your consumerism?  If so, how?  Feel free to share you successes and pitfalls.


HaiVy said...

Great post! I agree that gifts are nice when they are given with thought.

We are definitely planning to buy less this year, both for budget reasons and because no one needs more "stuff." As a result, I am definitely shopping with more thought and research. And whenever I can, I am trying to buy handmade and local.

My favorite resources for doing that are and the No Coast Craft-o-rama held at Midtown Global Market in Minneapolis (this year's event is Dec. 5-6). If you love etsy, you will love Craft-o-rama. It's a collection of the area's best artists, crafters, etc.

What I find most challenging in picking out a gift is finding that right balance between something useful and something thoughtful. When those two things come together, it is definitely gift euphoria!

Striving Green said... and local crafters...great ideas HaiVy!

Martha said...

Oh girl.

I'm soooo with you on this. We, too, are not using credit cards.

At all.

They're all gone from our house so we have no temptation to use them ever again. We only spend what we have, and I'm nervous. Being a grown-up (term used very loosely here :) has seriously sucked all of the fun out of this season for me.
And I have absolutely nothing constructive to add because I'm always fighting my own consumerist battles. My daughter was recently aquainted with the Nintendo DS via my oldest brother's kids. Man. Those two have everything under the we're dealing with that right now.
I have no idea how to keep the magic in this season for my 8 year old and not have it all be about 'stuff'.
But that's why I'm reading your blog :)

Striving Green said...

Martha - You have the additional challenge of a girl who is aware of video games! Our kids are small and aren't in the loop enough (yet) to ask about those kinds of toys. So, we're lucky this year.

Maybe a used video game console? I think there may be those kinds of stores around town.

Good luck with your Xmas shopping this year. Let us know how it goes!