Now that Halloween is over and the overpriced candy has been relegated to the discount bin, retailers will have ample space to begin the Christmas marketing barrage. Probably the best excuse to consume all year, the holiday season blurs the lines between family, consumption, religion, gratitude and generosity. The annual pressure to consume can make it hard to remember what it’s really supposed to be about.

What is it really supposed to be about anyway? Coming from a WASPy ethnicity but not actually being a Christian myself, Christmas has never been a particularly Buy Nothing Christmas Posterspiritual observance for me. Rather, the festive season’s been primarily about family, friends and presents, with Santa playing a much more active role in my season’s cheer than Jesus. When I think Christmas, I think turkey, perogies, copious amounts of sugar, and tearing open packages with abandon, under a tree with my family.

Whether by peanut brittle or Pier 1 Asia-inspired plate sets, my Christmastime is certainly tied to consumption. So what does it mean that I’ve resolved to buy nothing new this holiday season? Will I enjoy Christmas less? Will I come off like a preachy wet blanket to family and friends?

Those are my fears, but there may be hope. When I recently discovered the Buy Nothing Christmas website I realized I’m not alone in my hopes to subvert overconsumption this Christmas. BNC is a campaign started by group of Adbusters-affiliated Mennonites, and is inspired by a mix of spiritual and sociopolitical values. An expansion of Buy Nothing Day, BNC challenges the culturally sanctioned overconsumption of mainstream Christmas and aims to reclaim holiday cheer that is both spiritually meaningful and socially responsible.

The website has tons of good resources and suggestions for ways to express gratitude and generosity to loved ones over the holidays without buying much or anything. It inspires me to stick to my goal of gifting differently this year, perhaps with homemade art, donations to charities, or recycled/found gifts. The possibilities are endless, and I have a feeling that putting this kind of thought into the proceedings will make my holidays more meaningful and more fun to boot.

Don’t forget, good things come in no packages.

xo n