I'm ending my one-time love affair with online Christmas shopping.
I realize this statement runs contrary to the typical values and passions of my generation. I used to brag to elder, less computer-savvy family members about the joy of getting all your shopping done while wearing PJs and bingeing The Walking Dead. “Amazon will even wrap your gifts for you!” I would exclaim. “I’ll never shop any other way again!”
Famous last words, though. That’s because the magic of this oh-so convenient way of shopping has been wearing off over the past few years, for several reasons.
I'm continually shocked at how my gifts, ordered all at once, always seemed to arrive piecemeal, in an astounding amount of packaging. Three pairs of socks ordered from the same store once arrived one at a time over the course of a week, each in a box big enough to fit a microwave. Four rolls of wrapping paper arrived via separate UPS drivers in boxes designed for yoga mats. I blew through my budget on shipping, duty and exchange rates, all the while stuffing my recycling bin and garbage with boxes and unnecessary packaging.
There’s something to be said for putting on pants, grabbing a venti peppermint mocha, mentally preparing for the Mariah Carey Christmas music, and heading out into the fray. There’s something to be said for searching in-person for a loved one’s prospective gift, turning an item over in your hands and bringing business to a local store owner.
In fact, my motto this year is not just to buy local, but to buy hand-made. That means spending Saturday mornings at bustling artisan markets to buy local jams, hand-knit toques and custom-made jewelry.
Avoiding holiday debt, if I’m being honest, is a big motivator. According to the 2018 Holiday Outlook Report by PwC Canada, consumers will be spending an average of $1,563 on new gifts this year, up 3.7 percent from last year. And millennial moms, like me (ish), are among the top spenders, with an average budget of $2,246 for their holiday shopping. I don’t have $2,246 to spend on gifts.
So for my kids, I'll be looking into buying gently used items, allowing me to skip the shipping and packaging, while keeping my holiday debt in check.
The second-hand marketplace for used toys, which become “gently used” the second they are taken from their original packaging, is an appealing option. It keeps items out of the landfill, puts money into the pockets of members of my community, and allows me to save money during a bogglingly expensive time of year. And by the sound of things, I’m not the only parent who’s jumping on this money-saving, eco-friendly bandwagon. According to Kijiji Site Data from Christmas 2017, the most-searched-for second-hand items were iPhones, PS4 game consuls, LEGO and guitars. You can even buy gift cards at a reduced price through the second-hand marketplace. It’s a no-brainer.
Now, I’m not suggesting that everyone should cancel their Amazon Prime and hoof it on foot to procure all their gifts. If your list has 30 people on it and it’s easier to get all your shopping done in a couple (hundred) clicks of the mouse, go for it. But I’m done. I’m going old-school: Taking a paper list and hitting up my local brick-and-mortar shops. At the end of the day, I want to remember why I give gifts. I want to be swept up in the spirit of the season, even if it means rubbing shoulders with other holiday shoppers. And I want to do this while reducing waste, supporting my community, and being kind to my wallet. Buying local and in-person checks all those boxes.
Sorry Amazon. I’ll see you on the flip side.