Sean and Mittie | How to Love Your Holiday Experience 7

How to Love Your Holiday Experience

Many people dread the holidays – the consumerism, the expectations, and the constant barrage of advertising – but even those who enjoy the holiday often find the spending oppressive. Here’s a guide to simplifying and loving your holiday experience.

1. Think Differently

The holidays don’t have to be about buying and spending. Refocusing your energy on creating memories, spending time with the people you love, nurturing and taking time for yourself, and sharing a little cheer with those who have it harder than you can really change your experience of the holidays. Ask yourself: what are my favorite parts of the holidays? Make those your traditions. Throw whatever cultural standards that don’t work for you away. Get creative and do things your way.

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2. Support Your Local Economy

Use your holiday bucks to support the local economy. Local farmers, butchers, bakeries, and growers all benefit from the holiday season, but competing with the Wal-Mart Machine is tough. Make your dollars count by spending them locally with the little guys, the ones who do the work themselves, or pay decent wages to the folks who do, and reduce the environmental effect of long distance transportation. Local farmer’s markets are a great start to find the ingredients for the yummy holiday recipes you’ll be whipping up.

3. Buy Unique Gifts from Independent, Small Businesses

Want to pick up a gift for someone special? Choose small, independent businesses for your shopping. Hand-made or small batch items are unique, making them far cooler and more interesting than your average corporate fare.  Online sites like Etsy or personal shops are perfect to browse one-of-a-kind gifts by artists and designers. Here is a list of some of my personal faves:

Abrazos: Textiles Made by Local Seamstresses in Fair Trade Conditions
Ghazyia: Tribal Shopping, clothing, jewelry and accessories
Apashanka: Unique Yarn Bordered Clothing
Subverse: Kickass tees for badass fashionistas, explorations in intelligent design: Hip, irreverent, informed by feminist-lefty politics and a rock-n-roll/punk edge.
Cock of the Walk: Hand-tooled leather boots

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4. Recycle, Upcycle and DIY

There is nothing more meaningful than what you make with your hands. Recycling, upcycling and DIY are great ways to minimize waste, reduce cost and infuse your gift with some personal love. Remember as kids how our moms loved the things we made the most? It’s no different when you’re grown. You invest time, energy, creativity and love instead of money. Which one would you prefer? Bath and beauty products, candles, clothing and/or accessories, and jewelry are all good ideas of things you can make or embellish. Try flea markets and art bazaars for ideas and starting materials.

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5. Give to Charity

Donating your time to a cause can be the highlight of the holidays. You can do it anywhere, allowing you a way to give back and connect with a community you might never have found otherwise. Homeless shelters, food banks, orphanages, old folk’s homes and animal shelters are all great places to spend a little time helping out. Invite your loved ones to come with you and create some special memories around compassion and love. Flying solo or on the road? Share some love with a cause that matters to you and give your holidays meaning.

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How do you like to spend your holidays? What traditions make it special for you? Share your thoughts below!

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