I’ve worked retail my entire life, and let me tell you, nothing crushes my soul more than seeing stressed parents or partners frantically grabbing at crap they know their loved ones won’t even glance at before re-gifting (hopefully) or throwing away (more likely). There is a certain quality to gift giving that seems to get lost during the holidays – it’s what makes gift giving so special and receiving even more so – the quality of a gift that you know was chosen specifically for YOU, because it made the giver think of YOU and only you, because it holds a memory or an inside joke or is something they know you have coveted because they LISTENED to you. When a gift is this special, it doesn’t need to be big and fancy, expensive and shiny, it just needs to be personal.
There are a lot of small companies sharing gift-guides and their favourite local or emerging brands, and I’ll share some of mine too in another post, but this year, I want to bring the concept of Buycott vs. Boycott to the table.
I’ve heard this phrase before in regard to fashion, but it hit me anew recently in regard to the holidays. That is, I hear a lot of people say “oh my family isn’t doing gifts this year, we are (enter happy-go-lucky-family-activity-here: vacationing, skydiving, going to visit Elvis’ grave, whatever)” which is GREAT. But often, people still do like to give small gifts, and the concept of “boycotting gifts” (because that’s kind of what it is) is lost anyways.
So this holiday, maybe instead of holding fast to this concept of “boycotting” gifts, we restructure our thought process around gift shopping and consider “buycotting” instead.
Buycotting is just another fancy way to say “voting with your dollar” (DAMN I love this phrase too, if you have read my previous rants you know this one really gets me going!) which is, I truly believe, how we should try to approach all of our purchases from groceries to wine to clothing, but which really starts to hit home during the holidays (and especially during sale season for that matter, as the dreaded Black Friday looms near).
Listen, we live in a consumer society. We have been trained since birth to expect presents around this time of year, and we have brainwashed into thinking the more the better. But maybe there’s a way to break the cycle. Maybe, we can still get those retail endorphins, still feel the thrill of finding that *perfect* gift, still enjoy the giddiness that comes with surprising a loved one with something you know they will really love. And all it takes is a little brainpower! This year, instead of buying blindly, maybe do some research into the brand your purchasing. Where is it made, what is it made of, what you are *actually* spending your dollar on? Take a minute to decide if the brand aligns with your values. Maybe search out a locally made alternative so you can keep your dollar in your own economy. Maybe try to find a second-hand version, if at all possible, or an epic vintage piece by scrounging the local flea-markets. There are literally NO shortages of Christmas craft fairs, vintage fairs, handmade marketplaces, and stores catering to locally made artisans and makers – seriously, the only excuse for not “buycotting” at this point is just “IDGAF.”
The take home from this, as always, is the concept of BUYING WHAT YOU BELIEVE IN. I’ve said it many, many times, but during holiday season it’s even more pressing: YOU as a consumer have the power to change the way products are produced. YOU have the power to support locally built businesses instead of huge box stores, you can make the decision to champion a form of gift-giving that supports your local economy, supports products made with love and care and ethics instead of in a sweatshop, supports gifts that will be loved and cherished instead of ending up in a landfill.
And if you still need some encouragement or ideas, check out the brands that make MY list of epic gift ideas HERE! (all of these brands are local, ethically made, or use sustainable/recycled materials).