Buy Nothing Day

May I invite you all to celebrate today’s holiday, “Buy Nothing Day”?

In our family, the day after Thanksgiving starts with leftover pumpkin pie for breakfast (yum!) and other snacky leftovers throughout the day. We play games, watch DVDs, and work on around-the-house projects. We spend time with friends. We don’t go shopping.

Can I just say how much more peaceful and relaxing that is then heading out to look for deals and sales!

What do you do to battle the consumerism and craziness of the holiday season?


Jana is a university administrator and teaches History. Her soloblog is

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  1. FoxyJ says:

    We decided before we had children that we were going to start a Christmas tradition of minimal gifts for them. We get them one toy each, one book, and new clothes (usually a new church outfit so far). My husband and I get each other one gift. They’re still little, but for the last three or four years it has worked well. We also don’t get a lot of gifts for other people. We’re still “young students” so I guess that helps, but we also come from families that don’t go overboard with gifts in general. We write a nice letter and send it out with a picture each year, so that’s usually our gift for everyone else.

    I think you really have to make a conscious effort to step back and decide your priorities. We were watching some TV yesterday and I was disturbed by the ads. Over and over again they tell you that the only way to have a good Christmas is to spend lots of money. It’s easy to start believing that. I like how you focus on traditions that don’t include spending money or buying stuff. We’ve been trying to do that with our kids too. I actually don’t even tell them much about Santa or have them write lists or anything like that. I know other people do differently, but for now I don’t want the focus to be on what they are going to get for Christmas. I want our holiday to be focused on what we will do as a family to celebrate the birth of Christ. The presents are just a little extra bonus.

  2. Sue says:

    I hate all the emphasis on shopping. I don’t think Buy Nothing Day accomplishes much of anything, but at least it’s an effort I guess. I hate hearing about how people spend ALL YEAR LONG shopping for Christmas. My gosh people – simplify!

    My extended family and I decided years ago that we would not exchange gifts. Instead, we draw the name of another family and give them an ornament. It makes things so much simpler. I only have to buy gifts for our own children and for DH. Everyone else gets baked goods or something simple. It changed the holidays for us. And we learned a long time ago that more presents doesn’t necessarily equate to happier children. They get overwhelmed. So we get them a few things, and they are happy.

    Oh, and I’m trying to do more home-made gifts this year, even though I’m not very crafty.

  3. jana says:

    I am attempting an all-homemade Christmas. I will probably make a couple of exceptions with my kids, but the gifts to friends and extended family will be handmade. I’ve had some successes with this in the past–like last year I crocheted an area rug out of plastic grocery sacks for my BIL. He loved it! This year I’ve purchased several skeins of hand-dyed recycled yarn for my projects–not wholly handmade by me, but a purchase that I can definitely feel good about!

    For friends I can also give gifts from my garden–a bouquet of fresh herbs for cooking, or dried lavender sewed into a sachet, etc.

  4. jana says:

    Because we don’t have a TV, I forget how rabidly stores advertise during the Xmas season. My kids already have everything they want and need, really–which I know is unusual for today’s young teens. But it’s not that we are extravagant with them, it’s that they aren’t exposed to advertising and they really have no idea what to ask for. We’re lucky that their friends have similar lifestyles and are just as oblivious about fashions and trends.

  5. FoxyJ says:

    Jana–we really limit TV for our kids and hardly watch any ourselves. That’s why I was pretty suprised by the ads yesterday. I’m grateful my four year old doesn’t know what to ask for. When I asked her what she wants for Christmas she replied “to play in the snow”.

  6. Sue says:

    I’m making storybooks for my kids this year – starring themselves. I’m not a scrapbooker at ALL, so I’m keeping it simple. A few words on each page, printed on plain colored paper, with a photograph glued to the page. Stuff all the pagers into page protector and slap them into a cheap binder – voila, instant storybook.

  7. Anne says:

    When our children were old enough, my husband and I started attending the temple on the day after Thanksgiving. We are now temple workers, and we find that the consumerism of the season becomes less tolerable for us with each passing year.

    We enjoyed spending time in the temple this morning with many other like-minded Saints who have no desire to “hit the mall” today! It was also interesting to listen to the radio reports as they reported on stores that still have room in their parking lots! Shopping? No thanks!

  8. Caroline says:

    i successfully got through the day without buying anything! I actually went to a museum to check out an exhibit on women, wells, and water in Western Africa. Very cool. It inspired me to give money so that more wells can be built there.

  9. ~MeQueen~ says:

    I wouldn’t go shopping the day after Thanksgiving if you were giving away the merchandise! I think it is so despicable what is happening with the commercialism, materialism, and the insanity that the holidays are becoming out in the world.
    People are flat out crazy if you ask me. Spending the night in front of a store to get a deal!!!

  10. Johnna says:

    Hurrah! I started refusing to buy anything the day after Thanksgiving a couple years ago, and I love it am and glad to hear of others reinventing the same idea.

    We went ice-skating.

    I would love to spend lots of money in a couple weeks if I can get it. Lego Mindstorms, Wii with DDR, Digital movie camera…I can’t join any handmade movement this year except by default.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Count me among those who don’t shop the day after Thanksgiving. I can’t imagine a less grateful way to spend the day.

  12. Veritas says:

    I agree that ‘black friday’ is completely insane, and we also stay home that day. We put up the christmas tree, eat leftovers, and watch movies.

    But, am I the only one who LOVES giving gifts? I hate the idea of drawing names or not doing presents at all for loved ones. I want to get or make them a gift, not because I saw a commerical on TV but because I love them and its a great tradition for the season. Its about being generous. My family always draws names and I hate that – then you aren’t giving gifts from your heart, you have been assigned. I don’t go crazy on gifts, and for nieces/nephews (I don’t have my own kids) we never buy toys – always clothes and books. And I often give photo gifts (I’m a photographer) – portraits of the kiddos, or a piece of custom art for peoples homes. I love doing it and I don’t really care how much it costs.

    I’m all for getting away from the consumerism that inspires people to spend 22 hours in front of Best Buy to try and get a TV, but its easy to go to extreme the other way and just become stingy too.

  13. Anne says:

    Veritas: I agree! I love giving gifts, but I dislike being assigned someone to whom to give, and even worse, told how much money to spend. Last year, I told my sibling who had been “assigned” my family, to take the money they were supposed to spend on us, and have his children think of a way to use it to help someone in need. Our gift was hearing them tell us what they had done, and seeing the joy in my nephews’ faces as they related their experience.

  14. Anonymous says:

    I’ll be the first to admit I shopped yesterday and enjoyed it. A few years ago, my sister and I started the tradition of going out around 6 am – after all the people who’ve camped out have gone home, but before the all-day shoppers are up.

    We look online when the ads are posted a few weeks before Thanksgiving to see if any of our needs are on sale – it’s only because of the drastic (40%+) price cuts that we’ve been able to stretch a college student and a public school teacher’s salary to purchase much needed items like a new hard drive and a memory foam mattress (for a military husband to use on the boat during a 6 month deployment). While many items can be obtained through secondhand through freecycle/craigslist, these are among those that generally need to be purchased new. While I dislike what the day has become, I am grateful for the benefits it affords me.

  15. Justine says:

    I really love the day after thanksgiving, because we get out the Christmas music and spend the day decorating the house. The kids cut out paper doves, we put up the tree, we sing, light a fire in the fireplace, and eat — a lot.

    I love that it makes Christmas feel about togetherness instead of spending.

    I have been out on black Friday before, but it would have to be something really, really, important to get me out there (like $.99 flannel that coaxed me out a few years ago).

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