What are you thankful for this Thanksgiving?  Stuff, stuff and more stuff? Probably not.  I bet on top of your list you have family, friends, your health, this beautiful place we call home, having work, or something alike.  Now, if you were a five-year old, stuff in the form of toys might very well be in the top five.

So come this Black Friday and holiday shopping season, what’s on top of your list?  Stuff, stuff, and more stuff?  Unless you’re shopping for a five-year old, are you sure your friends and loved ones want more stuff?  How about this season of giving, think about what kinds of gifts will enable experiences and bring you closer to the people and things you love.  A moonlight snowshoe excursion, including snowshoe rental, hot cocoa and a cozy fire at the snow shelter? Hiking poles with a promise of a late-summer hike up South Sister, trail mix provided? A gift certificate to finally raft down our own Big Eddy?  A good book, a cozy blanket and warm socks?

“Experiences” don’t obviously exclude ‘stuff’, but the ‘stuff’ should be meaningful and thoughtfully purchased. Other things to consider while you’re shopping:

  • Quality over quantity: buying ten cheap gadgets, however cool, is not going to be a good investment if they break within the first six months. The novelty also wears off, while good quality will last and bring the user joy for years.
  • Once the product has reached its lifetime (hoping for a long lifespan, of course), what can be done with it? Is it recyclable? Is it upcyclable? Is it reusable in some other form? Are the “remains” toxic? Will it be just another bump on the landfill?
  • In what kind of packaging does the product come? Can you buy the same or similar product without any packaging, or packaging that can be recycled? Can you buy the product used or refurbished (and will your gift recipient be OK with that – I think we should all start being less concerned about being the first user of some long-lasting products, such as bikes, furniture, food….just kidding on the last one & making sure you’re still paying attention)
  • Support the local economy: we have so many talented artisans offering exquisite quality items through their workshops and local shops; it shouldn’t be hard to find the perfect gift.

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