I'm Skipping Black Friday

You know what today is, right? BLACK FRIDAY! It’s practically an official holiday in the US. For many people, the day after Thanksgiving plunges us into a fever pitch of gift-buying and budget-breaking. And whether you love or hate gift buying and giving, I’m willing to bet it’s a source of stress either way.

A couple of years ago, I decided this kind of pressure wasn’t serving me or my family. This year I’m taking advantage of the holiday weekend to spend quality time with my husband instead of worrying about a holiday that is over a month away. So, in the spirit of trying something new, here are a few quick ideas for how to avoid the online shopping cart or the shopping mall parking ramp today.

  1. Homemade Spice Mixes: What do taco seasoning, italian seasoning and pumpkin pie spice all have in common? Well, not much, but they’re all blends of different spices. When you gather the ingredients of these blends, combine them, throw them in a jar, label and gift them, then you’re a hero! Google “homemade spice blends” or try this list of recipes.

  2. Homemade Mustard: Who doesn’t love mustard?! Okay, well, kids perhaps. But I would love to receive a gift like this. Here is a recipe I’ve been meaning to try out for sometime.

  3. Custom Herbal Tea Blends: If you’ve ever looked at the ingredients of your favorite herbal tea, you’ve probably noticed several recognizable (and some unrecognizable) herbs. If you have access to a grocery store or a coop with a good bulk section, you’re likely to find many of these herbs or teas in loose leaf form. Alternatively, it’s easier than ever to order them online. (One responsible source is Mountain Rose Herbs.) Just be sure to label the blend in case the recipient needs to avoid certain herbs due to pregnancy or other health constraints.

  4. For Kids: Never underestimate the power of re-gifting. If your child is old enough, consider some items you’re not using anymore in the garage—an old hammer, a wheelbarrow you wanted to replace anyway, a tire they can use to build a garden or home for their lego creations. Maybe you have a few wild sweaters and old ties that could be gifted for the dress-up bin. And never, ever forget about the magic of a big, empty box. Or a lot of boxes. You could even make a day of decorating the boxes with your children, then use them to build a fort.

  5. For your pets: it’s adorable to watch pets open gifts, it really is. But if you’re trying to save money, just skip it this year. If you love it when your dog rips open a package, then smear some peanut butter in the bottom of a paper bag, roll up the top, and invite your pup to go to town. And gather around (giving Fido plenty of room to work out the puzzle), because I guarantee this will be 10 minutes of hilarity.

This is meant to be a fun, perhaps useful, list, but I definitely acknowledge that making your own gifts can be stressful too! And while it’s fun to think about how to avoid overspending, it’s also important to acknowledge that we live in a culture that encourages consumerism and materialism. Maybe you’re so over mindless spending that you’re ready to make a larger investment in something that lasts, like your health, daily habits, and sense of ease. If so, I’m here for you.