Celebrating Buy Nothing Day

I know the culture-jam-istas are sometimes derided for making pointless drama in the face of our American culture of consumption (seen also in Europe, but when it comes to consumption, who can do a better job than Americans?) and today is the main day of observance.

Yes, I’m observing Buy Nothing Day (another site, for the UK); it isn’t hard to do when you have the day off and can clean up your apartment (some to repent to bad purchases and put them on the apartment building’s swap shelf) and plot out some long-overdue theology projects. We have plenty of food in the house; if I’m going to go outside today, it’ll be to get some sun.

But little of this attitude comes from the hip-n-edgy cultural left; it comes from a rather old fashioned frugality, and a resistance to be treated as a revenue stream by those merchants who use contrived family obligations to urge me to spend unwisely.

But if the reportage is accurate, Americans will spend unwisely, and that means using credit. Much has already been written on that on other blogs. But what to do?

If you haven’t already done so, call your family members and call a truce on future spending. Prioritize what experiences you want this Christmas, and if gift-giving and gift-receiving is high on the list, consider your values carefully.

Sure, this may not be news to many of my readers, but perhaps you’ve let your ideals be undercut by familiar and familially-safe practices. But what’s unwise for you and your family financially can still do a lot of damage. Play it safer and opt out of the pre-Christmas binge.

Later. I “celebrated” some more by putting a substantial additional payment on my credit card. The credit card I don’t use for purchases any more.

By Scott Wells

Scott Wells, 46, is a Universalist Christian minister doing Universalist theology and church administration hacks in Washington, D.C.


  1. – The Quakerish influences on my life (plus under-employment) have led Jason and I into a more under-stated Christmas. This year our tree is a 2-foot artificial bought at K-Mart. It will be placed on an end table, with one of my old bandanas as a tree skirt, and decorated with gold beads, and an aluminum foil star. Total cost = $15.

    Festive, frugal, and re-usable. We’re saving our money so we can visit family.

  2. I celebrated in spirit, but ended up needing a run to the grocery store. We’ve made Christmas a very low key, frugal holiday the past few years anyway. Extended family and neighbors get home made baked goods or similar treats. The kids get about 3 presents each. If 3 was good enough for Christ, it is more than good enough for my kids! To be honest, it’s nice to sit back at the end of the year and know you had a joyful holiday and are not in debt for it!

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