The holidays can be a lovely time of the year, but they can also be difficult. Consumerism makes this season feel expensive and wasteful, and then there’s the pressure to attend every party, find the perfect gift for everyone on your list, and to be as merry and bright as a menorah on the eighth night of Hanukkah. But what if this neatly packaged version of the holidays doesn’t resonate with you?
This time of the year is especially frustrating for us because consumerism and waste fly directly in the face of our values as humans and as a business. The holidays are hard for those whose families aren’t with them and who may not have people to celebrate with. Introverts, folks struggling with mental health, and people on a budget can have a difficult time keeping up with the pressures associated with this season, too.
Just because it seems like everyone else is buying gifts, flying home, and eating tofurkey, doesn’t mean that you have to participate, nor should you feel guilty for opting out.
What if this time of year was about slowing down, unplugging from our daily lives, and enjoying time spent in the company of our chosen family?
SPEND TIME, NOT MONEY
Instead of focusing on gifts and decorations, make spending time together a priority. Especially if you only get to see your family and friends a couple times a year, holiday gatherings can be an excellent opportunity to reconnect, learn more, and be supportive of each other.
(1) GO OUTDOORS TOGETHER. Taking walks or hikes as a group is a great way to unplug and just be in nature. Not only is it a free activity, it’s also really good for you. Taking a moment to appreciate how amazing trees are and connect with something larger than yourself can offer a refreshing change in perspective.
(2) HOST AN UNCONVENTIONAL GATHERING. Encourage your chosen family to think outside the box. You can ask everyone to participate in a discussion about gratitude before tucking into a Thanksgiving feast, or exchange love letters instead of gifts for Christmas. Lots of cities also host annual food drives or community events (like the Run To Feed The Hungry) that you could attend as a group.
With cooler weather beginning to kick in, the holiday season is a wonderful time to slow down and snuggle up.
(1) BAKE A VEGAN CAKE OR PIE. There is little that we love more than the scent of cinnamon filling our home as something sweet bakes in the oven. Baking is such a delicious way of spending your time because it involves getting hands-on and creative, followed by sitting back and relaxing as you wait for your treat to cook. Yum. We love Vegan Richa and @veganizenytimes.
(2) INDULGE IN SELF CARE. There are lots of things that we would love to do for ourselves on a regular basis that we don’t always have time for—taking a candle-lit bath, giving ourselves nightly facial massages, reading a good book, or simply sleeping in. Unplug from the busyness of daily life and spend some time doing whatever feels restful and rejuvenating for you.
(3) SAY “NO.” No to holiday parties you don’t want to attend, no to drinks with that one friend, no to scrolling through social media. If you don’t feel like doing it, don’t do it. Save your energy, money, and time for what makes you feel good instead! (Also, it feels so good to say “no” and mean it.)
A little bit of kindness can go a long way, especially during the holidays. Doing something for someone in your community can help you feel a little more connected and human, and devoting your time to a cause helps build a better world for everyone.
(1) VOLUNTEER AT A SOUP KITCHEN OR HOMELESS SHELTER. Paying it forward, particularly during this time of the year, may make all the difference for someone. It’s also an opportunity to get connected to the folks in your community and learn a little more about them.
(2) HOST A HOLIDAY PARTY FOR PEOPLE WHO ARE CELEBRATING SOLO. Whether you’re inviting someone to join your family or hosting a “friendsgiving,” including people who may not have somewhere to go for the holidays is a warm and welcoming gesture.
(3) PROTEST BLACK FRIDAY WITH THE KIDS. Stand in solidarity with youth and adults everywhere in rejecting consumerism and demanding action on the climate crisis from our elected officials.
Written by Faye Lessler a California-born, Brooklyn-based freelance writer and founder of lifestyle blog, Sustaining Life. She loves to write mission-driven content while sipping black tea in a beam of sunshine.