I totally get it. No gifts for Christmas? OK, Grinch.
But it’s not just me! I was overjoyed to read this article from the Independent.
You still might ask – why not promote fewer gifts, or environmentally-friendly ones? Why not get gifts from thrift stores, green ones like reusable coffee mugs or water bottles, or support local artists, instead of going full-on Grinch with your war on giving presents?
Don’t let the Perfect be the Enemy of the Good
For me this is the ideal hierarchy of gift giving:
No gifts > thrifted/recycled/green gifts > newly bought gifts
If you really want to give, then I agree it’s better to give more eco-conscious gifts. I’m no ideological purist and improvement is better than an all-or-nothing disposition. However I will still argue that while the gift might have a smaller carbon footprint it’s still economically inefficient.
Back in college one of my roommates got me a pair of upcycled earrings from a local artist for Christmas. Cool, right? In theory yes but in reality the pit of my stomach was shouting “Really? Have you EVER seen me wear jewelry?” I thanked her none the less, but I never wore them. They are probably still in a box in the back of my closet. We all have one, the ‘I don’t want this but it would be rude to throw it away since I got it as a gift‘ box.
I’ve also given my fair share of crappy, unappreciated gifts. A former roommate kept mentioning, now that she had her own studio apartment, she needed a vacuum cleaner. I took this as a hint so we all chipped in and bought her one. I wasn’t expecting an Oprah-car-giving reaction, but was surprised by her ‘oh…ok’ response. She didn’t like the kind we picked out. She also confessed she was hoping for something more fun, not practical.
What Were You Thinking
You never say ‘it’s the thought that counts’ when you get something you like. Why is it when the thought behind the gift is so misguided we assign it significance?
It’s hard to get it right when it comes to selecting really good gifts. That’s why over $90 billion dollars in gifts get returned each year, why 1 in 10 gifts will be thrown away, and why over $1 billion dollars in gifts cards go unused. You heard that right – even when you give a card that let’s the person pick their own gift, it’s still wasteful.
If you are going to give gifts, be as environmentally friendly and efficient as possible. As for me I’ve been burned too many times by the ghosts of Christmas gifts past. All I want is for friends and family members to spend time with me this holiday season. Don’t add to the pile of abandon gifts in my closet.