Cheap, green, and easy ways to spend less on the holidays -- without feeling deprived

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Walmart on Black Friday

Pretty much everyone bemoans how consumerism's killed Christmas and other winter holidays -- and how much they want no part of that crappy-plastic-gizmo-giving, money-wasting dealio. Yet cheapo useless gifts seem to fly off the shelves every year. What gives?

Lately, I'm wondering if this buying-stuff-we-say-we-don't-want deal's like an attention bombardment issue. Yes, we all fret over the blog posts and articles about buying less and enjoying more this season -- but then we're bombarded with ten times as many TV commercials, print ads, and of course, endless blog gift guides (I write some of these on occasion too) about all the stuff we should buy -- RIGHT NOW, because they're on sale for the holidays!

Which makes me think maybe we also need to be bombarded with more frequent, more fun, more inspiring anti-consumerist messages -- except that sounds negative, so perhaps we should call them pro-crap-free-holiday messages. Thus -- To prevent yourself from overspending on useless holiday stuff, here are some cheap, green, and easy ways to inspire yourself to buy less without feeling deprived.

>> Celebrate Buy Nothing Day on Nov. 27. What most people know as Black Friday, the biggest shopping day of the year -- culturejammers know as Buy Nothing Day, a day to enjoy the free things in life. Started by Adbusters, Buy Nothing Day's an annual celebration of checking out of the consumer culture treadmill -- if only for a day. Celebrants around the world are planning everything from credit card cut-ups to Whirl-Marts -- filling up shopping carts at Wal-Mart but not actually buying anything -- to zombie walks -- walking zombie style, "marveling at the blank, comatose expressions on shoppers' faces." Find an event near you -- or just celebrate it singularly, with your unique, totally-free day.

What Would Jesus Buy?>> Ask What Would Jesus Buy? Get ready for “The Shopocalypse” by watching What Would Jesus Buy? — a funny anti-consumerist film produced by Morgan Spurlock (Super Size Me) that’s follows hilarious comic-activist-agitator Rev. Billy and the Church of Stop Shopping. And in the spirit of no spending, if you have a Netflix membership, the movie is now free to view instantly online! Will you be $aved? Or will you fall into the fires of eternal debt?

>> Watch The Story of Stuff. Don't have a Netflix account? Then watch this free 20-minute online video narrated by Annie Leonard to "look at the underside of our production and consumption patterns." Did you know product makers actually figure out how quickly they can make a gadget break without making you too upset about buying a new one? Watch, and you'll think twice before getting suckered into buying yet another useless kitchen gadget or getting another unnecessary tech upgrade.

>> Dive into Tinsel. More of a book person? Then get absorbed in Hank Stuever's Tinsel:A Search for America's Christmas Present, which takes a close look at the holiday happenings at Frisco, Texas, to illustrated "the demented poignancy of our Christmas complex," according a Salon review by Laura Miller.

I haven't yet read Tinsel myself yet, but I'm convinced to do so after reading Laura's review. Lest you think the book's simply a diatribe against the Christmas industrial complex, rest assured that Hank also sympathetically profiles some overzealous Christmas celebrants -- and enjoys the mall himself! From the review:

Where misanthropes see only a palace of conspicuous and wasteful consumption, Stuever also recognizes that the mall is a place where people gather and wander, sometimes without buying anything. They are "falling in love, or kissing a child ... In this carbed-out consumerismo are places and moments of true bonding, places to be seen and to see others, to simply exist."

Just remember to seek out such heartwarming experiences at the shopping center without maxing out your credit card. Buy Nothing Day's Whirl-Marts and Zombie Walks do happen at malls and big box stores!

Bloggers around the world are planning their Buy Nothing Day celebrations:

>> Melanie Rimmer at Bean Sprouts may turn into a zombie on Friday: "Wandering through a shopping mall dressed up as a zombie sounds way more fun to me than rushing through a shopping mall trying to find the perfect pair of bootcut low-rise stonewashed jeans in my size before the shops shut."

>> Eco Women: Protectors of the Planet! urges: "This Friday stay home, go to the library, a movie, have coffee with an old friend, or deck your halls — but DO NOT SHOP!"

>> Amy at Peachy Green's in: "Come on, you can do it. I’m going to do it. I don’t care how good the sales are at my favorite stores. Do I really need what they are selling? Really?"

Top photo by joanieofarc; images via Adbusters and wwjbmovie.com
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BlogHer Contributing Editor Siel plans to buy nothing this Friday without turning into a zombie. She also blogs at greenLAgirl.com.

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