An unfortunate addition to the warmth of the holiday season is the spirit of consumerism. Accompanying goodwill and hot chocolate and round-the-clock Bing Crosby is the increased desire to shop, one that I do not claim innocence from. For me and likely most, it isn’t only about the material goods; it’s about the activity itself, the buzz and lights and rush of it all. It’s something that we all know to some degree in the back of our minds but often choose to ignore; this seasonal shopping order has us right where it wants us.
While some claim that shopping blocks out the true meaning of the holidays, I’d argue that there’s plenty of room for both. After all, why does doing something for someone you care about have to mean you’re missing the point? The problem is when we let companies decide what makes a good gift by valuing items according to their price instead of how they apply to the person we’re buying them for. So in trying to keep both the sentimental and festive aspects of the season intact, the key is ultimately one’s mindset. The following ideas may only apply to myself, as this is likely something that will differ from shopper to shopper, but below are a few of the ways I plan to navigate holiday consumerism while still enjoying the season for all that it is.
Be Weary of Peer Influence
I recently ran into a phenomenon in which I felt much more comfortable spending money after my roommate had dropped triple figures on a shopping excursion. My debit card became a lot looser at the next store we went to, and smaller expenses didn’t seem near as big of a deal. Only afterwards did it hit me that I’m still a poor college student and those smaller expenses still meant a lot, even if they weren’t half as much as the other guy’s.
Make Sure You Really Want it
Yes, companies know that people are going to be a little looser with their money around this time, and yes, they absolutely take advantage. But is that reason enough to deprive yourself of something you truly want? Just like any other time of year, we can decide if it’s worth it to us. And if it is, don’t be afraid to-
The thing is to make sure we’re buying something because we really want it and not just because we’re in the mood to buy. I plan on pausing to ask myself if I’d buy this or that at any other time of year. Because…
Being Festive Doesn’t Have to Mean Spending
A person can spend a lot of money around the holidays and not feel any of the warmth around them. Festivity, in my view, is more about being receptive and appreciative of the surrounding atmosphere. While mall decorations may just be a way to spur on the spirit of gift-buying to a store manager, you’re free to make of them whatever you want. If lit-up trees bring a smile to your face, let yourself smile. Just know that buying something afterwards doesn’t have to have anything to do with it.
A sustainable holiday season does seem to mean avoiding the perils of over-consumption, but this can be accomplished without eliminating the fun. Do your shopping urges grow stronger at this time of year? If so, how do you deal with them?