Week 7

Opt Outside

Over 165 million people shopped over Thanksgiving weekend in 2018 (Forbes)

Black Friday pulled in a record $6.22 billion in online sales last year (Adobe Analytics)

2019 is expected to be the first ever $1 trillion holiday shopping season (eMarketer)

Despite growing interest in minimalism, buying secondhand and resisting the urge to consume consume consume, holiday shopping continues to grow year after year. The economy is strong, unemployment is low, and it’s easier than ever to think of something you want, grab your phone or computer, and have it arrive at your doorstep as soon as tomorrow.

Personally, I’ve become overwhelmed by the amount of stuff in our lives. For the past few weeks, I’ve been in major purge mode, donating or selling on Facebook old toys, clothes and other things we no longer need, or hardly used in the first place.

Beginning with our son’s fourth birthday earlier this month, I started to plant the seed with relatives that we don’t want an influx of even more stuff for birthdays and, now, Christmas. For his birthday, I asked for one gift per household and sent a very specific list that included a lot of experiences like museum and theater tickets. Some people followed our requests more than others, but overall it resulted in a much smaller haul than past years. With zero complaints from the birthday boy!

And now, we enter the official holiday shopping season. Of course, we will buy presents for our kids, and they have emailed Santa their lists (the North Pole has WiFi now!). We’ve also told relatives what to get for them. Instead of sending a big list to everyone, we sent specific items to specific people and left it at that. My husband and I also gave each other our (very short) lists, and I was able to find his main gift secondhand on Facebook (yes, Marketplace is truly the gift that keeps on giving).

The biggest change we are making this year is to our extended family gift exchange. In past years, all of the adults picked a name out of a hat on Thanksgiving and bought them something under $50. This worked for many years, but after a while, you only need so many scarves and perfumes, and you eventually run out of ideas. 

So this year, we are giving our $50 to a charity instead. We will discuss the specifics of how we’re going to go about it on Thanksgiving, but we’re excited for this new tradition. It even brought somebody back into the gift exchange who had previously opted out!

Which brings me back to the title of this week’s post. Ironically, the “Opt Outside” tagline was started by a retailer, REI, who bucked the trend and is closed on Black Friday to encourage people to spend time outdoors that day instead of shopping. In Minnesota, the state parks all waive their admission fees that day.

While I haven’t regularly gone shopping on Black Friday, I haven’t actively avoided it, either. I’ve bought things online, gone later in the day, or gone shopping on Saturday. And I will never forget working that weekend at the Target checkout in high school, yikes!

This Black Friday, we will make a point to visit one of our local parks and avoid the mall altogether. Even if we are buried in a foot of snow, as they are predicting! And I will not buy anything online, either (which I’m trying to avoid regularly, not just for the holidays).

Are you planning to cut back on your shopping this holiday season? If so, why and how? If not, why not? I’d love to hear from you!

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