The Gateway Drug to No-Buy, No-Receive

moneyLast December, I wrote an entry entitled "The Story of Stuff." It was about our mega-consumer society and the stuff we accumulate, particularly at this time of year.

In the comments of that entry, I wrote a comment that's been bouncing around my skull all year long. Here's what I wrote.

I've been flirting with an idea. Not for this Christmas, but for next Christmas. It's still perculating, but the premise is fairly simple.

It's a "no-buy, no-receive" policy that we, as individuals, promote. It requires one inform all of their friends and loved ones what they're doing in advance. Essentially, you're not buying holiday gifts - and you don't want to receive holiday gifts. You can do things for people, and should do things for people, and you should spend time with those you care about and spread good cheer, but you don't buy them stuff.

When you're in the "no-buy, no-receive" program, you may influence others to try something similar. Heck, if you can do it, so can others. You still take care of the kids, Santa still comes, but adults get nothing. If they want to get you something, ask them to donate a little coin to your favourite charity or to sponsor your Terry Fox run or something like that.

"No-buy, no-receive"... I'm seriously considering making such a statement in 2008, and if I do, you can read how it all works out right here.

I raised this thought with my wife, my mom and my brothers, and we've reached a compromise. We're playing "Secret Santa" and throwing our names in a hat. Then, we're each only buying the one gift with a $100 cap.

I see "Secret Santa" as a gateway drug to where I want to go in 2009. No-buy, no-receive. We've all got enough stuff.

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Mike from Lowville

I agree Mike. $50.00 limit for close relatives this year. Next year, NB-NR. I have enough stuff. Alot of that stuff is still in the wrapper. (past useless Xmas gifts) I know I know, it's the thought that counts but, I'd rather have nice thoughts than thoughtless gifts.

November 14, 2008 @ 10:28 AM


Thank you so much for articulating my own thoughts - the very same thoughts that have been rolling around in my head for some time now. We all have WAY too much stuff and there's no need to add to the heap. In fact, I've been in a serious purge mode for months. Value Village is doing well by our family! Why oh why must we buy things for people who have too much? The neices and nephews draw names but I still resent that process because these kids are all from wealthy families and don't need one more thing. It's sickening. Can you tell that the whole scene is making me nuts!? Thanks for the chance to share my angst.

November 14, 2008 @ 1:07 PM

Mississauga Mike

Actually my aunt sent out a similar email to the family last week, not sure what everyone else's response was but we more or less agreed (at least for relatives) to chip in for the food for Christmas dinner. I could think of a few things I need (couple shirts, new work pants) but it's not a long list. I usually ask for clothes/DVD's and I've even stopped buying DVD's for the most part and may just pick up The Dark Knight because I pretty much NEED to own that movie in some capacity haha.

November 14, 2008 @ 4:11 PM


I am so with you on this one Mike...I have been lobbying for this for years. We have moved the families to the name drawing for the most part except for a couple of hold outs..

I think once you are an adult outside of immediate family ie. spouse and kids, there should be nothing but a great family dinner and if people want to, a contribution to a kids charity of some sort.

November 14, 2008 @ 8:01 PM


This is the way it should be. End of story. It will take a lot of the stress away from a Holiday season that is supposed to be about relaxation and being with loved ones.

I hope I get my brother Mike in the Secret Santa. I failed miserably last year with a Leaf Jersey - TORONTO MIKE - written on the back. Toronto Mike no like.

This year it'll be a Schenn Jersey!!!!!!!!!!!

November 15, 2008 @ 5:51 PM


Celebrate Festivus. It's for the rest of us.

November 17, 2008 @ 11:31 AM

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