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By the author of the FREE online course Growing Self-Sufficiency: The Whole Picture
Yes, the weather is turning colder in the Northern Hemisphere, and the days are getting shorter. As the Winter Solstice approaches, a Frugalite’s thoughts inevitably turn to opportunistic and materialistic gift exchanges. JUST KIDDING!
However, whatever beliefs you might hold, there is a lot of emphasis placed on gift-giving this time of year. As a seasoned Frugalite, I thought I would chime in with my own wish list (and wish NOT list).
PLEASE! No Scented Candles….except…..
Speaking as someone who is sensitive to scents, there is probably no gift that I am less likely to use than a scented candle. Seriously! It might give me a migraine! Even as I pull it out of your gift bag and paste on my pretend smile, I am seized by a wave of fear.
That being said, if the scented candle is well sealed, I may keep it for re-gifting. I am quite certain that there are a small army of heavily scented candles in glass jars making their way around the homes of North America, never being opened and burned. So, although this particular gift will never be used by me in my own home, it is a particularly serviceable re-gift. So, my dear Frugalite friend, give away!
PLEASE! No Stuff….I mean it!!!
You may feel that I am being a Grinch in this section. Perhaps! But I am also trying to think of the planet. Please don’t give me stuff I don’t need to show me you care. Like most adults, I already have my stuff. What I (and this wonderful planet) don’t need is more plastic stuff, cheaply manufactured stuff….stuff we don’t need.
I do not need any coasters with offensive slogans about over-indulgence in wine. I do not need any more mugs, even if they are filled with dollar-store chocolates. I can probably do without that box of chocolates (now twice the price it was a couple of years ago). I do not need any heavily scented personal care products that were made in a sketchy factory in China. I don’t need any bubble bath.
I know you care about me. Let’s show some care for the planet (and our pocketbooks) and do this holiday with less.
Flaunt your happyless!
Happyless is a word I have coined to share with the world. To me, it runs in opposition to all of the materialism of our society. How many advertisements do we see every day, virtually all of them designed to make us feel less than who we are?
When I (reluctantly) log into a certain social media account to access a few learning groups or sell some items, I sometimes scroll down curiously just to see what might be there. As a woman of a certain age, ads abound telling me I’m too fat, I need to lose weight. My body’s natural aging process is ugly, so I need shapewear to look like a 20-year-old. We are fish, and that is the water we swim in. It says “You aren’t OK how you are, but you could be….if only you bought THIS!!!!!”
Happyless is my own antidote that I offer to this unhealthy dynamic. I am happy…with less! I cultivate happiness now, today, in this moment. My happiness is not attached to what I own or what I buy. At a time in our earth’s history when countless folks don’t have enough food to eat each and every day, I cultivate my gratitude for the basics on a daily basis. Beyond those basics, I work to give from my abundance to my local community and beyond.
The gift of time
Living in Happyless as I do, I know that I don’t need anything to enjoy the holidays. So, dear Frugalites, are there any gifts that I would like to receive this year? You betcha! At the top of my list is the gift I cultivate year round: the precious gift of time with those I care about.
I am the niece who visits her treasured, wise elderly aunt every week. I am the cousin who might call you up out of the blue to grab coffee. Does one of my cousin’s kids like woodworking? Yep, I might call them up about some hardwood cutoffs I’ve been keeping around.
I get it: People are busy these days. One of my aunts has trouble getting together with her own daughter. I think some of my cousins and first cousins-once-removed think I’m a bit crazy putting all this emphasis on family togetherness.
However, I love it! Time with friends and extended family is what I value. For me, the most precious gift I could receive is someone saying, “I’d love to spend some time with you. How about going for a walk around your place? I’m bringing a fresh loaf of my home baked bread….You put the coffee on!”
The gift of thyme
As many of you who follow my website and/or my blog will know, this has been a challenging year for me health-wise. I wasn’t physically able to put in my usual garden. As a result, my harvest this fall was down. I would welcome any practical gifts of herbs to dry and vegetables for winter storage in my custom “Hole-in-the-Ground” hand dug root cellar.
Last year, a treasured memory is my good friend walking towards my eco-cabin with his Frugalite holiday gift. He had an enormous chicken pot pie in one hand, and a large jug of windshield washer fluid in the other. He knew I loved that pie because he had served it to me before, and, well, who in Canada doesn’t need windshield washer fluid in winter? Golly, this stuff was rated to minus 40 degrees (where the scales meet!). How thoughtful!
And why not money???
Ya, a bit of extra cash wouldn’t hurt, either. If you’re one of the fortunate ones who is doing well these days, enjoy that and appreciate it. You might have a cousin who recently lost his job, or a brother who had some health difficulties this year. If you can afford to help others, what a great feeling that would be. In our own region, food support programs of every definition are facing unprecedented demand. There are many ways you could help people in need out this holiday season.
One of the ways I have done this in the past is to buy some nice Christmas cards. I write a supportive and grateful message, addressing the card to “Dear Friend,” slipping a $20 bill into each of them. I then spend an afternoon driving around and distribute these anonymous cards in random places: to my friendly server in the drive thru window, or in the lobby of a local social service agency. A few words of kindness and generosity like this could be treasured and remembered for many years to come.
In unprecedented times, give unprecedented gifts
In the current economic circumstances, I consider most gift-giving to be optional. This year, in particular, I will focus my gifts on people in need.
Could you see yourself trying any of the thrifty gift-y tips offered here? What are your own preferences for gift receiving and giving this particular year? Please tell us in the comments section.
Colette is passionate about sharing her knowledge of thrifty living and self-sufficiency. She has developed her skills in self-reliance living in the suburbs, the city, and more recently, on her own Half-Acre Homestead. Colette lived five years completely off-grid and without running water in an eight by 24 foot tiny home while designing and building her own 18 by 24-foot eco-cabin. Her website, Half Acre Homestead is attracting followers from around the world who want to become more self-sufficient. Colette invites you to stop by the Homestead and check out all of the great resources including the practical How To Guides, A Tiny Home Resource Center and her organic gardening stories on her blog. She shares her wholistic model (body/mind/spirit) for achieving self-sufficiency in her Free Course, “Growing Self-Sufficiency: The Whole Picture.” Stop by the Homestead today to register free of charge!