Some people get enormously excited about the holiday season. All the delicious food! The chance to dress up for parties! The visits from family! Oh, wait… well, no matter what gets you into the holiday mood, sometimes it can be oh-so-easy to burn out before you’ve gotten a chance to enjoy the delights of the season. And that is why I’d like to take this time to address some alternatives to what has all too often become the traditional cycle of these last few weeks of the year: slave over a hot stove -- eat too much -- drink too much -- yell at estranged uncles -- buy things you can’t afford for people who don’t need them -- get so overwhelmed by all the frenetic activity that you start planning your 2018 holiday getaway to Aruba -- etc. But I’m here to tell you that there is another way! A way that doesn’t involve so much consumption, waste, and stress.

I’m not the first person to point this out, and I won’t be the last, and if you love the holidays, then whatever you’re doing, you’re doing it right. But if you find yourself dreading the holidays, for whatever reason, I hereby announce to you - you are not alone! And it’s OK. It’s OK to be a little selfish, because even though this season is so much about giving (or should be), that doesn’t mean you have to give everything. Sometimes you have to hold a little back, if only to renew yourself for the next round of cookie exchanges and present wrapping.

Holding something back for yourself might be as simple as attending your own bubble bath instead of someone else’s party, but it can also be taken more literally, as in holding back your wallet. Bill McKibben proposes this in Hundred Dollar Holiday. In this book, McKibben suggests that limiting gift purchases to $100 per family might inspire creativity and community instead of consumption. Another option is to consider donating to causes you care about instead of cluttering your home with items you don’t need. Or, instead of buying stuff, make it! Of course, food is a perennial favorite, but there are also hundreds of crafties to create, to imbue the season with personality and connection, especially if you gather friends and family to “Make It” together. While the Library is under construction, your living room can become a Makerspace!

christmas wreath

Of course, you can search blogs for project ideas, but books are more fun to hold :) Here are some options:

  • A homemade Christmas: creative ideas for an Earth-friendly, frugal, festive holiday / by Tina Barseghian
  • Woodland style: recipes and crafts for the whole family / by Joan Zoloth
  • Swedish Christmas crafts / by Helene S. Lundberg
  • Woodland style: ideas and projects for bringing foraged and found elements into your home / by Marlene Hurley Marshall
  • Handknit holidays: over 50 projects for Christmas, Hanukkah, and the winter solstice / by Melanie Falick with Betty Christiansen
  • Simply handmade: 365 easy gifts and decorations you can make

All this making is hungry work! For holiday cooking ideas, check out 641.568 in the nonfiction section, or try some alternatives like Vegan Holiday Kitchen, Danielle Walker’s against all grain celebrations, or Holiday cooking around the world.

No matter how much you spend or how many parties you attend, just remember to take of yourself, too! Your family and friends will thank you for it, and you will be more likely to close out the holidays feeling renewed and grateful.

Vanessa Velez, Collection Development Librarian

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