November 30, 2015

Buy Nothing Xmas

We lived through another Black Friday Week - congratulations. But our good work is not over yet. Oh no.

From now until the end of the year the mass consumption continues unabated. It is time to plan for another Buy Nothing Xmas to counter the madness.

The point of this final anti-consumer campaign of the year is not to save money, or destroy Christmas, but to take action toward creating a more equitable world where everyone has enough, and we consume what we need and not much else.

It is also about returning to  the original focus of the season, and concentrating more on loving each other rather than on competitive gift giving. It is about throwing out the generic corporate profit-driven season that wants to deck the vaults with boughs of your money, and replace it with a personalized celebration that promotes compassion for all living beings.

This season let us question our consumer mindset, empower ourselves by refusing to participate, and generate awareness of the destructive tendencies of business as usual. We are in good company - the Pope is feeling pretty subdued about business as usual this season too.

Chances are that most people, even the Pope, will be buying something this festive season. The following suggestions will help align potential purchases with the values of the BNX campaign.

  • give locally, fairly-traded items with environmentally friendly packaging.
  • give quality things that last
  • give consumables, like gift cards for the local grocery store
  • give things that people really need (you can't go wrong with socks and underwear)

Often parents find it hard to practice a Buy Nothing Christmas. But it IS possible to have a wonderful non-commercial Xmas with kids. While gift giving is an important social exchange, we don't have to go overboard at this time of year.

  • try not to subject yourself or your family to seasonal advertising hype
  • consider making gifts for each other, or buying only hand made gifts from local artisans
  • up cycle old stuff to make creative gifts 
  • regift items you don't use
  • spend quality time together (without TV or other electronics)
  • go to the library together, get cards if you don't already have them

You don't have to spend a lot to show others you love them. You don't really need to spend anything at all. Just be with them.

That is free. That is BNX.


  1. I think my goal will be to connect with people this month and do helpful and thoughtful deeds. I want to spread peace, love and kindness. I will be thankful for and enjoy what I already have.

    1. Excellent goal. Thanks for sharing.

  2. My son made me a gift sertificate last year. Vaccum cleaning once a day for a month, walking the dog every day and making me tea! :) Pam in Norway

  3. My family has a simple gift giving plan for Christmas: "something you want, something you need, something to wear, and something to read." All of the items except the something to need, usually came second hand. As a child, I usually wanted a doll, I always needed a toothbrush, I always got a pair of pajamas or a winter sweater to wear, and received an age appropriate book (mostly mystery novels). Now that I have a daughter, we follow the same pattern. My spouse and I don't usually exchange gifts with each other, just a sentimental husband- wife card exchange with 'nice and naughty' messages, hah!

    1. "Something you want, something you need, something to wear, and something to read." I have never heard of this before, and wonder why. It is really nice, and sets reasonable limits around gift-giving. Love the card exchange, too.

  4. I've been trying to get the grandparents on board with this for years to no avail! Even if they think the idea of an experience (aquarium passes for example) is great, they will say "But they need something to open!" And clothes or a book isn't "fun enough". Year after year my children are bombarded with toys that they don't even like or want, that are played with for maybe a couple hours at most, only to go off to GoodWill within two weeks. Sigh!

    1. Sometimes change happens slowly. Our buy nothing Xmas evolved over a number of years as people came to understand that our motivations were driven by our love for the planet. Now some of them have converted to a form of low consumption/low waste celebrations. Good luck.


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