buy nothing christmas '03
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Stories of Buy Nothing Christmas

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Photo: Laura Holdeman

One of my favorite things to do is buy wool sweaters from
a thrift store and felt them (wash in hot water and dry on high heat). Then use the fabric for all sorts of cute projects - pillows, mittens, stuffed animals, ornaments, handbags - almost anything looks cute when made with felted wool. I'm particularly proud of my argyle pig this year. - Laura Holdeman

My sisters and I (all in our 50's) sort of fell into it a few years ago. Somehow we started giving each other the gift of not expecting any gifts. We had already fallen into the habit with our parents of only giving gifts to each other if we happen to be in the same building for Christmas, and then they were expected to be useful and inexpensive.

The thing that led us to this was the understanding that the expectation of having to buy gifts was ruining Christmas for us all. Every year the list would get longer and the after Christmas debt was higher. They buying stopped being fun and started being an ordeal. The gifts often were useless over priced crap that no one actually wanted the next day.

Myself, I also stopped giving gifts to people I didn't really know. If I knew someone well enough to know what they loved, and I came across something I knew was "them", then I would give the gift. Most of the people I stopped giving gifts to returned the favor the next year completely without the (I confess) expected animosity. Rather I felt a sense of gratitude that they were also now freed of the demand.

We do give home made things freely, at Christmas, and all year, actually. And gifts of assistance and skilled service (I am a window washer, very popular). We volunteer and donate blood and other such good guy activities in the season too.

And we are totally shameless when it comes to feasting.

That's our low-buy Christmas policy. - Suli Marr

Last year my roommate and I deliberated like heck over what to do. We wanted something...but did we want a living, new (and sprayed) tree cut down and shipped all the way from Ontario or Quebec

 So we went to a Christmas tree lot and got extra branches that were going to be tossed anyway. The "dumpstering" version of Christmas tree decorating! The bus driver and passengers on the way home all smiled at us and told us we made the bus smell nice.  And our place looked great too, even without a real "tree."

I am so inspired by this movement and the idea that drives it. This year, my boyfriend and I have cleaned out our apartment and are determined to give ourselves a living room this Christmas. A great gift to anyone would be help them with some cleaning, organization, or mild chores this season to start the coming year fresh and new. It's amazing how having an extra hand to help can make such a difference! -A.J. Denver, Co

Where did I say you should shop so much?
» Photo from Columbia, PA.

Just thought this quote would inspire and encourage. "Thrift is the really romantic thing; economy is more romantic than extravagance...thrift is poetic because it is creative; waste is unpoetic because it is waste...if a man could undertake to make use of all the things in his dustbin, he would be a broader genius than Shakespeare." G. K. Chesterton, What's Wrong With the World Chapter IV The Romance of Thrift - Noelle Allison

My family started this years ago. We are a large family and had trouble instituting and sticking to the $10.00 or one gift rule. So we made new rules. Everyone got everyone else a gift, except you're not allowed to buy it. We have even more fun now on xmas morning than ever. We keep all the regular trappings of baking, carol singing, tree trimming, great food, and visiting family. We think all year and are always on the look out for something you didn't buy and can give as a gift. For us re-gifting is de-rigeur! Also promos, giveaways and other freebies all make an appearance. Gifts are found, made, or passed along. It allows children, teens, adults, and grandparents to try and be creative and give meaningful gifts. The exchange of gifts becomes much more significant as all the gifts are literally priceless. On xmas day it seems the best gifts are given by those with the least ability to buy, children and low income, and therefore the most accustomed to being creative and seeing the value in objects that can't be bought. - Ian Buchanan

I haven't bought anything for Xmas for many many years, including cards, and keep urging friends to do likewise. I absolutely hate the meaningless hype at this time of the year and the waste of resources that goes with it, food included. Instead of taking part in all the consumerism, perhaps people should dedicate some of their spare time over Xmas (and hopefuly throughout the year) to help local communities and animals (who incidentally get more abused at this time of the year than at any other) or do something constructive for the environment. A sigh of relief to find there are some intelligent, thinking people out there, so do indulge in buying nothing! All the best - Hella, UK

My grandmother used to make boxes for small gifts out of old cards. I loved these. She would also take styrofoam balls and cut small pieces of fabric and apply them to the balls to make ornaments. She also made peanut butter balls and cheese balls. My family used to always wrap gifts for anytime of the year in the comics pages from the newspaper. - DeShea

I would like to share with you a little song I made up: On the last day of Christmas Jesus came to me, and whispered in my ears, "That's not what I meant." I like to sing it to my husband while driving through town. - Vivian Phillips, Bermuda.

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