“I was thinking recently about what I remember most about my grand-parents, and I realized that I don’t remember a single gift they gave me as a child. Instead, I remember the time that I spent with them.”
— Erin Peters
Would you like your holiday season to be more about meaning and less about stuff? If so, you are in good company. A national survey showed that more than 75% of Americans wish the holiday season were less materialistic.
90% of the survey respondents reported feeling that family and helping others was more important than giving and receiving gifts. But what happens when our values are up against advertising and our own distorted expectations?
Of course the National Retail Federation is paying close attention to such things. They are like a Santa that charges lots of money for the gifts in the sack. The NRF do extensive research to keep a close eye on our holiday spending habits. Are consumers being spending-naughty? Or spending-nice?
I am sure they have been happy with the answers they are finding in their big, red data bag gleaned from Santa-like surveillance. They know when you are spending, and they know when you stop.
The Retail Federation's busy elves report that last year, holiday spending increased 3.5% to $579.5 billion. 2011’s grand total of $560.2 billion was a 5.1% increase over 2010. On average, annual holiday spending has increased 3.3% for the last 10 years.
I can remember a lot of great holiday celebrations, but can't remember many presents. Most people would agree that the best things about the holidays are spending time with friends and family, sharing good food, laughter and stories, and not what kind of loot you get.
We can opt out of the frenzy of shopping and gift-giving if it feels oppressive, and create better, more meaningful and simplified holiday alternatives.