Black Friday is perhaps the ultimate example of where the Holiday rush leads us away from relaxing with loved ones and into long lines at the mall.† After an epic meal the day before, we get up at 4am to wait in long lines for door prizes and sales.† We buy things we donít really need or even want, just for the thrill of the chase.† After Christmas, the planet groans with all that stuff.† And $13 billion of it, or 1 of every 5 presents we give, goes to waste.† Then we do it all over again next year.
For some of us, itís the thrill of feeling like we saved money.† For others, itís a great excuse to get out of the house when our family is driving us nuts.† For still others, itís a fun tradition and a chance to bond with the family or friends who come with us.
Thereís nothing wrong with any of these things.† But if saving money, getting out of the house, or sharing an experience with a friend are what we seek on the day after Thanksgiving, Black Friday is hardly our only chance.
We can save money by giving better this year:† we can make something tasty for coworkers and friends.† We can stop worrying about filling stockings at the last minute with small, cheap presents and maybe fill them with a donation to their favorite cause or a check instead.† We can focus on 1 or 2 good presents for our kids (a karate class? skating lessons?) and stop worrying about trying to fill the space under the tree.
As for getting out of the house, itís actually pretty easy.† We can offer to run to the store for Grandma (doesnít she always need another butter or carton of milk?)† Or take an early walk with our favorite cousin.† If weíre desperate, thereís always falling back on my uncleís favorite, doing yardwork.
Spending time with our favorite shopping buddy is also easy.† We can meet for breakfast and discuss how glad we are not to be stuck in traffic or haggling over the last DVD player at Best Buy.
If none of these cut it and you have to check out the bargains at the mall,† go ahead and enjoy yourself.† Just keep this rule in your back pocket:† if itís not something you would buy anyway, donít buy it just because itís on sale.† If you need the thrill of the bargain, you can give gift certificates, and let your loved ones pick out their own favorite item when itís marked down after Christmas.† Remember ó one way we can be absolutely sure the gift is what they want is to let them pick it out themselves.† In a sense, cash and gift certificates are the ultimate thoughtfulness.
By slowing down on Black Friday this year, we can contribute to a healthier planet, and lose the guilt our friends and relatives feel when we mean well but get the gift all wrong.† Best of all, we get to sleep in on Friday morning.
Read more from Porter’s blog at slowchristmas.org.