Do you become irritated and confused around this time of the year when stores start pushing turkeys and decking the halls on Halloween morning? This is not new. Retailers were just subtler about it. How many times have we told them that no one wants to buy Halloween candy and carving pumpkins on Labor Day or stuffing mix and pie filling on Veteran’s Day or map out Black Friday hot spots two seconds after setting the Thanksgiving menu?
Can we get a minute between holidays?
The unbridled retail pushiness and reckless call to consumerism rub me the wrong way, and yet barely had I put away my pirate costume when I got sucked into a hypnotic Target ad and developed a strange urge to follow that red bulls-eyed dog there to load up on Disney and Marvel dolls that I have no one to give to.
Good thing I blinked.
I predict, one day, eons from now, holidays will either mysteriously disappear or be celebrated in one fell swoop and none of it will involve gifts, except personal holidays like birthdays and anniversaries.
But this is our life right now in a fast-moving world and it’s up to us to slow things down by choosing to mindfully celebrate the holidays. Here are a few of my favorite ways to do that:
The gift of experiences. Tired of the wrung-out way I used to feel, I haven’t officially celebrated any of the holidays in November or December for over a decade, but strangers might assume otherwise since I celebrate lightness and magic. I love having fun. Whirring around on the holiday merry-go-round with the under-ten set, hanging out in the Teddy bear suite, and admiring Gingerbread house displays at downtown hotels. I dig Zoo Lights, skating and carolers too. Bet you can find one or two groupish holiday events and invite friends or family to join in on the fun.
The gift of giving. Many less fortunate families wait all year for their names to be plucked from a Giving Tree or treated to a holiday meal. If your family already has more than enough, think about adopting one to buy gifts for or donating a meal. Sign up at your church, local YWCA, homeless shelter, or use this Google search for more ideas.
There are so many in need and if you can do the tiniest bit to make their days brighter, do. Then think about doing it throughout the year. My daughter and I make a day of shopping for our adopted family and wrapping and dropping off the gifts and grocery cards. Endorphins soar – and that is a gift to us.
The gift of food and togetherness. Who cares what you’re celebrating or what you’re eating? Invite some people over for some grub and board games while you all have time off. Winter days can be dark and dreary, but company makes it better. If cooking isn’t your thing, order takeout or coordinate a potluck. And chuck the traditional turkey-with-trimmings theme for once. Jambalaya anyone? The point is that you’re all together, eating and sharing good times. Score some of these clever takeout containers and extra foil, so guests can pack home a meal for the next day and relive the memories.
The gift of pampering. Pinterest is your friend. It has tons of fairly easy recipes for homemade pampering products. Soaps, lotions, bath bombs. I found this Lush bath bomb recipe around this time last year and Lush, my favorite pampering store, has been missing me since. Hands down, a box of bath bombs was my go-to gift this year. Even the kiddies enjoyed them. Most of the ingredients are available at grocery stores except citric acid, but you can find that and bath bomb molds on Amazon. My daughter taught me how to make body butter and together we make custom blends. Friends and family LOVE getting these creamy, nourishing jars of body butter a couple times a year and I love spending time with my daughter this way.
Now, that’s all said, here’s this. You can still indulge in the sales, but I challenge you to try to find that one perfect gift for each loved one instead of letting advertisers boss you around. Take advantage of Black Friday if you must, but do it for the deep discounts and entertainment value and know that it’s going to be crazy crowded and maybe a bit war-like. Skip some of the stress by parking as far away from the entrance as possible. (Don’t rule out that empty parking lot across the street.)
As with all things, take the parts of the season you love and have fun while gifting mindfully and spending quality time with loved ones.