have less stuff: an anti black friday gift guide


have less stuff: an anti black friday gift guide

November 23, 2016
because not wearing clothes is illegal
this one's on the house

In my experience, the most important part of getting the Black Friday deals of a lifetime is this: don’t. Don’t get lured out to the stores as soon as the pie has been served. Don’t [literally] fight the crowds in the name of saving a few quick bucks. Don’t be the person whose holiday shopping habits piggyback a real holiday in a way that forces retail employees to leave their tables in the middle of quality family time (or tremendously awkward political debates). Just don’t. You’re better than that. Spend Thanksgiving with your family, and spend Black Friday eating leftovers by the fire. Read a book. Go for a hike. Take a nap. Whatever you like to do that doesn’t involve devolving to throwing elbows and running up your credit card balance – do that.

I’m anti a lot of things, so it should come as no surprise that I’m anti Black Friday. There’s simply no doubt that the holidays have become too much about gifting and not enough about enjoying the season, but I won’t preach to you because you already know that. But if you disagree, well, feel free to click here for stores that participate on Thursday/Friday, and come on back another time for a post that you’ll find more interesting.

My family celebrates Christmas, and it’s been a yuge deal for us since we were tiny, but now we all have addresses and responsibilities that hinder our ability to be together every year. Many of us spend hundreds on our holiday shopping and mail gifts to each other all over the country, but at the risk of sounding ungrateful (which, of course, I am not), none of us genuinely want for anything.  To be clear, we certainly don’t have the Kardashian version of “it all,” but we have full bellies, roofs over our heads, a soft place to rest at the end of the day, and a few superfluous gadgets here and there.

Relevant Sidestory:  Last year my husband and I sold our home shortly post-Christmas, and after filling a 30 yard dumpster to the brim with unwanted who-knows-what, meeting several Craigslist weirdos with my very scary (looking) Doberman in tow, and enlisting my poor mother-in-law to help pack what seemed like 10,000 boxes, I vowed never to buy anything I didn’t need ever again. My sister and a good friend both happened to move around the same time, and we all came to the same simultaneous realization: we have too much stuff.

I’m tired of stuff. I want less stuff. But when you tell your family members that you really, truly, honestly want nothing for Christmas, they inevitably disobey. I get it – when you’re an actual grown up most of the gift-giving fun is in the giving, not the getting. So how does one honor the giving spirit without the inevitable accumulation of more STUFF?

My family tossed around a lot of ideas: donate to charity in one’s name, draw names for the adults, institute a spending limit, etc. We eventually agreed to keep to a maximum of $25/person, and I’ve established a personal rule that I will only give gifts that can be used up (a.k.a. edible items, candles, skin or hair care products, etc. Bonus points for recyclable containers, patronizing small businesses, and keeping it local!). It certainly makes shopping a bit trickier, but there is only so much room in one’s life and one’s home for more — yes — stuff.

I believe most of my family would argue that this is another weird Courtneyism that will pass, but I think it’s a great idea (if I do say so myself) and I plan to stick to it.

So what are my favorite use-up-able gift ideas under $25 (well, okay, $50)?

For the chef or foodie in your life:

  1. Local honey or bee pollen – local honey and pollen are rumored to be great for allergies (debatable), and honey is healthier than refined sugar (not debatable)
  2. Exotic spices, cocktail mixers, gourmet versions of common extracts, infused salts or oils, preserved lemons, tried and true spice mixes (Trader Joe’s Everyday Seasoning, anyone?)
  3. Avocado oil – a trendy and healthy alternative to vegetable oil, with less flavor than olive or coconut oil (get one in pretty packaging like this)
  4. Gift certificate for a meal delivery system – Blue Apron, Hello Fresh, etc.
  5. Wine – obviously

For the gym rat:

  1. Nuun tablets – hydration that is healthy for the body and the planet (vegan friendly, too!)
  2. T-Relief (formerly Traumeel, a homeopathic anti-inflammatory) or Born’s The Source for Muscles (like Icy Hot but free of parabens and carcinogens)
  3. Essential oils – great for bedtime, bath time, or the post workout steam shower

For the fashionista or beauty guru:

  1. Savannah Bee Royal Jelly Body Butter – an awesome moisturizer without an overbearing scent, because thankfully our Bath & Bodyworks days are long gone
  2. Facial mask (or “masque” if you’re fancy, or French, or both) – most skincare gurus will already have a solid routine, but a clay, sleeping or sheet mask is a fun supplement to the daily regimen
  3. Cosmetics – most girls are devoted to their concealers, primers, foundations and mascaras, but every makeup lover can get down with a bright eyeliner, a new shadow palette, or a stellar highligher
  4. Low Beams (pasties) – I recommend this one as a gift to girls, from girls.  Probably not a great gift from your husband to his mom, but slip dresses are trending so…

For the intellectual:

  1. A great novel – read it once, pass it on
  2. Adult coloring books – Adult as in grown-up, not XXX, but to each their own. Anyway, coloring books are surprisingly cathartic even for the non-artistic among us, and the ones for adults are a bit more intricate than those for children. They’re also recyclable.
  3. Tickets to a show/museum/gallery tour

For the categorically uncategorical:

  1. Soy or beeswax candles – buy locally if possible as this reduces packaging/shipping, and supports small businesses in your area
  2. Wildflower seeds to be sprinkled in early spring
  3. (insert anything here) of the Month Clubs – a gift that keeps on giving
  4. Wine – still obvious

Most importantly, you will notice that exactly zero of these items must be purchased at a mall or department store, and many can be purchased at your local farmers market on Small Business Saturday (that’s the non-repulsive consumer holiday after Black Friday). Barring that, there’s always Cyber Monday.  And if you’re still stuck without any gift ideas next week, donate to a relevant charity in your loved one’s name on Giving Tuesday.

There’s an Anti anti Black Friday idea for everyone on your list, which means now you have something else for which to be thankful.  You’re welcome.

Have a merry Thanksgiving y’all!!  xo


This blog post was chosen by Independent Fashion Bloggers for their weekly blogger roundup, Links a la Mode!


Links à la Mode, November 23rd

SPONSOR: Shopbop, SPANX, True Religion Jeans, Beyond Yoga Activewear, INUIKI, Flagpole, RYE, Long Sleeve Dresses, Velvet Loafers, Leather Clutches, Men’s STATE

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