Sustainable NE Seattle

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All Fun, No Waste - Ideas for the holidays

About a dozen NE neighbors showed up to share in Stone Soup Salad, the film "What Would Jesus Buy?" and discuss alternatives to high stress, high consumption holidays. We thought those of you that were not able to be there might want to add your ideas and read what thoughts we had.

Notes from General Meeting November 15, 2012
All Fun, No Waste

1. What kinds of things can you do to focus on the traditions of the holiday rather than the stuff?

  • Church service
  • An orange in the foot of every stocking
  • Walnuts in the shell that you had to break with a nutcracker
  • Making food together – cookies, gingerbread, Tamales, soups, food in general
  • Eggnog
  • Homemade stuff. Magazine subscriptions
  • Listening to holiday music together.
  • Bringing the family together and singing. Caroling in the neighborhood
  • Going to see Christmas decorations. Look for a bikeable area to get a closer look.
  • Decorating the tree. All the ornaments have meaning. 
  • Make your own ornaments. String popcorn/cranberries. Looping construction paper strips. An advent chain - you tear one off each day. A friendship chain with names of your friends. 
  • Buy a living tree and plant it later, or go to the hills and chop your own 
  • Look in the Christmas windows downtown.
  • Make hot chocolate and go ice skating or sledding 
  • Getting together and telling stories about things that happened in the family.
  • Consider getting a branch of a tree instead of a whole live tree. Find one blown down from the tree.
  • We have an artificial tree.
  • Scavenger gifts.
  • Church - advent.
  • Support local artists and craftspeople
  • Watch movies, cartoons.
  • Wrap and open empty boxes - does that give the same "rush"?

2. Emotional attachments and tug of war over consuming / not consuming

  • The level of love is correlated to the number of gifts
  • Say you just want to donate to a charity. Someone's friend got angry at that suggestion. It took a year for the person to get over it.
  • Some people like to give to the food bank.
  • One person's son who is an arborist donated a cord of wood in his family's name. He showed them the letter and a video of delivering the wood.
  • "Christmas is when I show appreciation, so I like to give gifts to show appreciation. It can be homemade stuff, but I feel it's important to me to give to show my appreciation and love. I picked this out for you because I care about you."
  • "Grandmother would take the best parts of worn out dresses and make quilts and baby dresses and furniture, then give them as gifts."
  • What do you give to the grandchildren etc who expect something from the store? 
  • Perhaps kids should exchange some of their own "stuff" with their relatives.
  • Or donate what you're not using to kids in need. Something comes in the house, something old goes out.
  • Kids could bring a toy to school that they could exchange.
  • Kids could pledge to replenish a food bank at some odd season, so the food isn't flowing only at one time of the year.
  • Sometimes there's a tension about the religious aspect.
  • We are we so invested in gifts = giving & getting

3. What activities can aid in the purchasing with less waste and stress-relief from holiday anxiety?

  • Cookie swap, soup swap 
  • Make an agreement within your family to spend less
  • Everyone in the family draws names and buys a present for that one person
  • Give a gift of a trip, like a Christmas ship
  • Instead of wrapping paper, make bags, that can be reused. Line it with white, and every recipient signs it before they pass it on. Clatch or fancy button, or small bags for jelly can have a drawstring. 
  • Recycle wrapping paper
  • One aunt ironed the ribbons.
  • Buy a gift for the whole family. 
  • Meet with the family and introduce the idea.
  • Eliminate the stress of shopping and worrying what someone will want - just give them money.
  • Ask your grandchildren: What is special about Christmas and how can we honor that? How can get some ritual going so it's not about stuff.
  • Make holiday cards together. Make new cards from old cards you have received and saved.
  • Planning the meal - who will bring what. It was fun to think about what we were going to eat. When we were kids everything was homemade.
  • Whenever there is a disaster, people are most upset because they lost pictures of their family. Give the gift of a scrapbook. 
  • At the family gathering everything can bring a picture or something that depicts a special holiday memory.
  • Ask the kids what they like about what they got. Have them think about and articulate what they really enjoy. Then build on the most enjoyable aspects. 
  • Did we used to get together with a larger more extended family than we do today? Families seem more detached, and live farther apart.
  • We used to have fun just talking together, or just being together. Even silence was energizing.
  • How to get in touch with nature and recognize the return of the light. A solstice celebration. If it snows, look at the snowflakes. Go outside more.
  • Getting outside in the cold weather energizes people. That's a good time for hot chocolate.
  • Have neighbors over. 
  • Luminary walk at Meadowbrook pond and at Greenlake
  • Re-gifted gifts that friends like.
  • Talk about holiday traditions.
  • Post-consumption support. Have a "consumption Support Buddy"- someone you can call when you start stressing out about the holiday.
  • Take walks whenever the urge to buy gets unreasonable
  • Buy from thrift stores
  • Visit senior centers and homeless shelters.

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