Sunday, November 20, 2011

Same Time Next Year: Thinking About Holiday Decorating

Naughty or nice phooey!
What Santa wants to know is whether you've
been thrifty and environmentally conscientious!
Holidays are predictable: we can know when a holiday is coming literally centuries in advance. This gives use a huge opportunity to save money, jobs and the planet by thinking ahead in our holiday planning, and in particular in our holiday decorating:
  • Say it loud and say it proud: you do not NEED to buy holiday ornaments. You need air, food, sleep, love, and so forth; ornaments will not get you any of those.
  • You may still WANT to decorate. That's fine, because aren't you entitled to a bit of fun? But think about what you are trying to do with holiday ornaments: is it just to have the pleasure of spending money, or more along the lines of making your environment a bit more cheerful during the darkness of winter? If your purpose is morale, then think of what will maximize your achieving your goal beyond merely spending money on what-ever mass-produced garbage has been shipped into your community.
  • Decorate locally: Chances are, getting something made locally will work better than anything shipped in from overseas, because in buying local, you will have the good feeling of having helped support your community, helping save someone's job, reducing energy costs, and reducing the general turning of our country into one smooth homogenous paste from sea to sea.
  • Use Natural and/or Found Objects: What could be more local than leaves, pine cones, and other items shed by local trees? The can make very effective decorations, as well as being environmentally responsible and economical. We use locally-grown leaves, branches, pinecones, cornstalks etc. As a side-bonues, walking around the neighborhood to see where the wind piles leaves is another chance to say hi to the neighbors!
  • Remember the Olde Tymes: All our holidays, except Festivus, date from a time before plastic or massive production. Let your ornaments reflect this! With the exception of replacing candles (dangerous!) with LED lights (good!), you should be able to decorate very well with simple materials crafted by your or someone you know. The time you spend crafting decorations is basically a second job, since with a little practice you can with your crafting displace purchases for which you would otherwise have had to earn money. For example, this Halloween I crafted a simple yet VERY effective set of eyes and fangs our yard lamp; it cost almost nothing but a little time, yet fit the holiday and our yard so well!
  • If you must buy decorations, get them the week after the holiday for use next year, or perhaps during the sales just before the holiday. Never, ever pay full price by purchasing during the holiday season; you want to save money by basically picking up the stuff before it hits the trash can. This is an especially good tactic with thrift stores; since they cannot ship unsold inventor back to the manufacturer, they may have a greater tendency to markdown what they would otherwise discard. I feel it is important to keep these in boxes or covered tubs that are labelled on the side, because notes written on the top of boxes get hidden when the boxes are stacked.
  • Do support artists like. Last year, I got the Order of the Stick Christmas ornaments because they have special meaning to my wife and I, and we want to support the artist's work. This makes us enjoy them extra!
I got thinking about this subject thanks to the Change The World Wesnesday Challenge:
"...we'd like your tips & ideas for decorating in a "green" way. And, of course, we'd like you to choose Eco-friendly decorations for your event."
As so often is the case, eco-friendly items can be easy on the pocketbook if their eco-friendliness rests on minimizing waste. Locally produced items are good for local jobs as well! 

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