How to De-Plasticize the Holidays
Nov 25
Christmas is now on full display in Costco, in all its plastic glory: Trees, decorations, lights, bizarre nutcracker men. All mass-produced, all shipped from somewhere, and most wrapped in plastic.

(Yes, it's a repeat - but a timely one!)

Meanwhile, Walgreens is similarly bedecked, but with Halloween. You can buy really, really tacky battery operated ghouls and weird stuffed animals (nothing says Halloween like a stuffed Frankenstein doll) and plastic costumes that are neither original nor attractive - all courtesy of some foreign factory. It's horrifying, all right. BTW, have you ever wondered if they celebrate Halloween in China or India? Probably the owners of factories making plastic crap do. It's surely a profitable venture. The workers in those places must think Americans are batty (Halloween pun intended).

Yep, it's the holidays. If you have kids, try this exercise. Close your eyes and imagine your garbage cans and recycling bins on their post-Christmas collection day. Filled to the brim and overflowing, right? Are you sick of it? Not only do you stay up the night before Christmas wrapping and assembling, but the day after Christmas is cleaning up all the paper, cardboard, and packing material. And then throwing it all away.

Without even getting to the gift issue, why not make this the year you simplify wrapping and décor? For real. It's almost November 1, so you have time to implement this simplification, particularly since it involves NOT doing stuff. Don't buy wrapping paper, don't buy ribbons, don't buy anything from the tempting nutcracker displays at Costco. Just say no. It's a wacky idea, so let's start with these areas to ponder:

1. Wrapping paper: Martha Stewart is a kazillionaire for a reason, and she has said that purchased wrapping paper is unnecessary. Most houses have an excess of paper sitting around just waiting for some creative use. My favorite is old maps. Who the h-e-doublehockeysticks uses maps anymore? Clean them out of your car and wrap presents with them. As for ribbon? That stuff breeds on its own. You don't need to buy more. Here's an old post with lots of wrapping ideas using stuff you already have in the house.
2. The tree: Who says a tree has to be plastic, or live, or the even color green? Unless your family loves the tree-farm outing, try one of these ideas instead. Goal: Use what you have on hand and get 'er done. Remember, presents can be piled under anything.
3. Tree décor: If you already have boxes of ornaments, use them and don't buy any more. If you are tempted to buy more, make the move to vintage. Start a collection of vintage tinsel or vintage Santas or vintage whatever. Shop eBay and antique stores throughout the year, but don't shop the new stuff from a foreign factory. (Hint: Pretty much everything from Walmart or a big box store is from a foreign factory.) For garlands and other doo-dads, consider making them. Use feathers, CDs, branches, leaves, scrap fabric. Here's a Pinterest board to spark some big ideas. Right now you're probably thinking, Bitch, I don't have time for this. Who says you do? That's what kids are for. Your teenager always wants extra money, no doubt, and someone's always saying they're bored. Take the money you would spend on plastic crap and pay them by the hour - or by the piece (just like they do in slum factories). While they're watching TV or interminable football games, or not doing homework, put them to work.
4. Cards: If you want to abandon sending cards, I will support you. It's a boatload of work, and I'm not sure the return is worth it. If you like to send them, consider finding a local paper press or artist and support them by purchasing their cards. Just don't buy any cards with frolicking puppies. Those suck. Got an industrious crafter in the house? Check out this! Use scrap paper and shock your friends with the coolest card ever. Way better than puppies.

Remember, if you're in PDX and you need to shop for craft supplies, go to SCRAP. They have the pine cones and CDs for garlands, paper scrap, fabric, you name it. Coolest place ever for crafting. If you're forcing your kids into employment, take them along. They can be the architects of their own décor.
(4) Comments   | Tags: re: Decor re: Duce


Why in Trog's name are you shopping at Costco, the land of triple packaging?

By Bonnie McLellan on 03/11/2014

Bonnie - I was wondering if someone would notice that! I was there with my mom, and we bought nothing that was triple packaged. (Mom will have to buy that stuff when I'm not with her.)

By Nancy Ranchel on 03/11/2014

I am shocked you visited Costco. grin I hear the Christmas stuff arrived in the stores before Halloween and it's all junk.

I have a cute little lemon balsam tree about a foot tall that is my Christmas tree and my decorations are all handmade, mostly from fabric or wood. You don't need a lot of decorations to have a festive home just a bit of straightening up and a few touches of color.

By on 03/12/2015

Totally agree with you!

By Nancy Ranchel on 03/12/2015

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