An Alternative Gift Giving List When You Hate Shopping Malls and Consumerism in General

International Rescue Committee

This year I have a  bone to pick with gift giving. I mean I’ve had a problem with it for a while but I guess I didn't have the capacity to articulate it (probably because I was subconsciously afraid that I wouldn't actually receive anything for Christmas). Shopping, consumerism, and therefore waste is very much a part of my culture and well, many cultures. It’s a vortex that is incredibly easy to get swept into. Just a few weeks ago I was visiting my family in Atlanta. I think I went to more shopping malls in 3 weeks than I had been to in a year. In Berlin, I don’t shop that much (and when I do, it’s usually for something specific.) When I’m in the US, however, it seems like that’s all I do. 

This past trip back home I brought my German boyfriend along to meet my family. While in Wal-Mart one day, we went absolutely nuts piling lots of things we needed (and lots we didn’t) onto our arms. My mom had to fetch us a shopping cart because our things kept dropping onto the floor. As we were checking out my boyfriend said to me “I feel like they put something in the air to make people buy more stuff.” I never thought about it before, but it really does feel that way. I’m sure there is a psychological explanation of how everything is displayed, the lighting, the choices, the “discounts”, that makes people want to buy more things. Needless to say, I ended up having to borrow a suitcase from my mom so that I could schlep all of our extra loot back to Berlin. I'm not proud of my relapse, but it just goes to show how easy it is to fall off the bandwagon and into the "stuff" trap.

Besides the bad taste that consumerism leaves in my mouth, I can’t help but feel like there is so much expectation attached to gift giving. While thinking about what to get people for Christmas, I can’t help but get frustrated. Everything seems so forced and obligatory. That’s why I created this alternative list to gift giving:

Alternative Gift Giving List (When You Hate Shopping Malls and Consumerism)

1/Donate money to BlackLivesMatter in the name of your racist uncle’s name. 

2/Handcraft a dream catcher or macrame plant holder. YouTube is going to be a lifesaver here. Better hurry while the internet is still “free” to use.

3/Consumables. You’re going to have to make sure your receiver doesn’t have any weird intolerances before you start making it rain bonbons. 

4/An experience such as a classical concert, movie tickets, or an Olive Garden gift card (joking, try to avoid giving your family colitis for Christmas..unless it’s your racist uncle, of course.)

And instead of risking receiving a buttload of wasteful crap you don’t need, choose a charity of your choice, and request that family members donate to that instead. Here’s one I like: The International Rescue Committee sends impoverished girls to school. For just $58, you can send a girl to school for one whole year. 

Happy Holidays and all that jazz.

Like this story? Thank Nicole. 

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Nicole Paulus is a Berlin based bozo from the States. When she’s not dancing like a maniac, drinking beers at Tempelhof, or eating shawarma at Maroush, she’s busy running her own digital marketing company Nico New Media. You can read about her adventures on her blog.