By: Yasmeen Kumar, Guest Blogger
The holiday season is supposed to be a time for family and friends. It’s supposed to be a time to show our loved ones we care. It’s a time to make lasting memories and appreciate the amazing people in our lives. A time for love and respect. Unfortunately in this day and age, we are constantly being bombarded with messages of “buy this,” and “get that.” “Show that person you care by spending all your money on this new gadget or expensive diamond ring.” It feels like we get so caught up in consumerism that we forget what this season is all about.
I’m guilty of this too, spending hours at the mall trying to find the perfect gift for all those people on your list. Probably something they don’t need or have too much of already. It’s hard not to want to spoil your friends and family, but aren’t there better ways to show we care than something from a store at the mall?
A lot of people have this funny idea that people who give homemade gifts are cheap, or that handcrafted gifts are lame. This is a big fat lie. Some of the best gifts that I’ve ever given were the ones that I made myself. Because what says “you’re really important to me” better than a gift you put your heart and soul into right? Especially with the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, taking the time to put together a thoughtful gift, will really make someone’s holiday. Not to mention the fact that you’ll pay less money for an even better gift that people actually want to receive.
Last year I made my grandmothers photo coasters out of tiles from the hardware store and photo prints. They hardly cost me anything and they loved them. I used photos of the family and me with my grandmas when I was little. I didn’t want to give them just any trinket for them to use and throw away, I wanted them to have something that had real value and showed them just how much I love them. That meant more to them than all of the disposable gifts I could have bought them at the mall. Last Christmas also, my mom was complaining about how jars of spices would fall every time we opened the cupboard. I decided that I would make one out of all the scrap wood we had in the garage. So I took a bunch of wood to school and used started building it in woodshop. On Christmas morning I showed it to my mom and she was so happy. She said it was the best gift I’ve ever given her, and almost a year later she still hasn’t taken the note down that I left on the inside of the cupboard.
My best friend and I decided this year that we wouldn’t even exchange gifts. Instead we’re using the money we would have spent on gifts to go out and do something fun together. We wanted to spend money on lasting memories instead of disposable “stuff.” Go skating, see a parade, picnic in the park, or take advantage of the winter events your city has to offer. Some quality time with my BFF is better than anything I could have picked out in a store.
People are always asking me this time of year what I want for Christmas and I honestly don’t want anything. There is no material item that I desire. I have everything that I need, and I really don’t want people to waste money on something that has no real sentimental value to me. Of course my friends and family and I are still going to celebrate the holidays, but instead of spending a ton of money on stuff we don’t need, we’ve decided to make memories. Going out and just enjoying each other’s company or just exchanging small homemade and thoughtful gifts. Isn’t that what the season is all about? Not spending the most or receiving the most, but just being with the people you love, isn’t that what the holiday season is all about. Your wallet shouldn’t have to suffer in order for you to have a ‘fun’tastic holiday!
So skip the mall, stop stressing about buying the perfect gift, and start making some meaningful memories. Bust out the glitter and hot glue and make something sentimental, with real value for those awesome people on your list. Or get out and make some memories. Show your loved ones you care, give consumerism the kick and let’s get back to what this holiday is really about!
How are you celebrating the season? Crafting? Laughing? Making memories without breaking the piggy bank? Share your stories here!
Yasmeen Kumar is an anti-poverty activist, blogger, animal lover, and band geek. Having started Helping Homeless Vancouver- a local anti-poverty initiative, Yasmeen is working towards a dream of getting people off the streets and into permanent housing. Outspoken, compassionate, fierce, and driven, Yasmeen is ready to take on the world and make some serious change. Facebook.com/helpinghomelessvancouver; yaskumar.tumblr.com; @yasmeenkumar