If you're like me (and the internet tells me you're exactly like me, assuming you're my side of the Boomer/Millenial divide), there are few things you hate more than the mindless consumerism exemplified on Black Friday, which may as well be called Bloody Friday as far as you're concerned.

Here are some simple ways to undercut the gluttony of the holidays and show people you love them in ways that count.

And yet, now that you're panicked because you didn't do any post-Thanksgiving shopping and now it's almost Christmas, you'll likely find yourself nonetheless spending money you don't have on gifts you're not sure others will like.

Stop the madness! Here are some simple ways to undercut the gluttony of the holidays and show people you love them in ways that count.

The Gift of Time

This Christmas, make your loved ones a card and commit to doing something together that you both enjoy, be it a picnic, a hike, a trip to the beach, a meal that you prepare together, or something weird you've always wanted to do but haven't, like a haunted walking tour or a dueling piano bar. Even if you foot the bill, this can help stretch out your cash if you don't have a lot at the moment because it's scheduled in the future. For most people, time with you is more valuable than anything you could give them. And honestly, the rest don't deserve your hard-earned cash!

Gift Certificates... for Local Makers

Pros: Handmade goods are often the best quality, the most well-received, and they keep local money local!

Cons: they can be a little more expensive; when it comes to art it's hard to choose for someone else.

A gift certificate solves both of these problems. Get it in the amount you can afford, ideally enough to cover one of their cheaper items, and if they want something nicer they can get it more easily with your help!

Get What They Want... Refurbished or Used

Doesn't matter what it is, clothing, technology, home goods, furniture... most things dip in price once they leave the retailer, even if they're wear- and damage-free. Screw—I mean skip—amazon.com and check your local thrift stores, craigslist, eBay, and your local tech repair shop for just-like-new replacements for those big ticket items. (Always use caution with craigslist—if you meet up with someone, choose a public place and maybe even tell a friend; and check the seller's reviews on eBay!)

Assuming you've got time, an amazing gift could be something well-built and well-loved that you've refinished or reupholstered or up-cycled with the help of a DIY tutorial. You can find them for almost anything!

Gift Your Skills

What are you good at? Can you do make-up? Change the oil or detail clean a car? Babysit? Bake a mean brownie? Are you a really good listener? Never underestimate the value of these simple things to the people in your life. Anything someone has asked you to do, they'd love to be gifted for free (or guilt-free if you're letting them talk about themselves only, lol).

Make an old school coupon book of IOU's. Vintage. Adorable. And don't stress if you have to remind them to use it. That just means you can pick a time when you have the bandwidth.


This is another way to stretch out the dollars for those folks you really want to show up for even though you can't front a big chunk of bills. There are so many types of subscriptions out there. Keto/Paleo/gluten free snack subscriptions. Book clubs with POC/female authors only. Beard grooming clubs. Slime clubs. STEM learning boxes. Do a quick search, almost guaranteed their weird quirk is available as a $10-20/month gift that keeps giving all year long. If nothing else there's a magazine they'll love. Check it out!

Well, this has been a helpful reflection for me as I face down the holiday shopping list. Hopefully you as well! And don't forget that buying a gift at all isn't ever necessary. Just find some small way to show the people in your life that you appreciate their presence. A heartfelt letter will be cherished more than a "maybe-they'll-like-it" gamble on one of those gendered holiday gift list items. Commit privately to help with something during the year, like a move, or cleaning up after a party.

The holidays can be a nice reminder not to take for granted the gift of other people in your life. A very merry not letting rampant commercialism bully you into pointless consumption, and to all a good night!