Vase of hollyStand up and make a difference! Rebel against consumerism! Do not fall for tacky sales techniques. Many years ago, I was told by a very successful businessman that the way to generate sales and boost profits was to raise the price an item and slap a ‘sale’ sign on it. Trading standards wouldn’t allow it these days? Don’t you believe it. Our clever sales teams have become craftily adept at manipulating our perception of reality.

This last few years I have been deeply concerned that we, here in Britain, have decided to follow in the U.S.of A.’s ill-considered footsteps and have a Black Friday commercial jamboree all of our very own. In fact, when I first heard the term, I hadn’t a clue what was being referred to. Sadly, I should think that everyone is now very well aware of exactly what Black Friday is.

Unfortunately, it no longer refers to merely the day after Thanks Giving (which in America usually falls on the fourth Thursday of November). No. Now we have sales going on all through the month which are generically referred to as Black (no longer politically correct) and on any day of the week for all the weeks in the month.

In America, Black Friday falls on the 29th November. Today on Amazon, I distractedly noticed that there was a clock counting down the days, hours, minutes and seconds to the start of their Black Friday sale tomorrow, (the 22nd).

I have an alternative suggestion to make. It involves a cardboard box, a sheet of plain paper, some scissors, a pad of paper, a pack of envelopes, a tube of glue and a set of coloured pens. On the first day of December, get your family together and present them with all of these items. First they have to cover the box with the paper. Then they need to cut a postbox-shaped slit in the top of one side of it. If they wish, they may then decorate the outside of the box with the coloured pens – make it more festive or personal. Then they can all decide what they would like to do for one another… instead of giving gifts this year, everyone can give something of themselves… their time, their company, their commitment to do something for someone else, even their commitment to do something for themselves which will effect everyone else favourably (like giving up smoking or refraining from being  untidy or inconsiderate).

Everyone writes their promise or pledge on a piece of paper – decorative script can be employed, poetic words may be used, the coloured pens may come into play again to illustrate or decorate the pledges. Once all the pledges have been written, they are sealed in the envelopes and ‘posted’ into the box which is then placed under the Christmas Tree ready for the 25th December.

Some might be funny or facetious… others might be very sincere and beautiful… to make it work, everyone has to join in and play the game AND stick to what they have written – really deliver what they have promised to do for someone else.

Apart from the initial outlay for pens, paper, envelopes and glue, no money is required. Any competitive spirit will be subverted in to ingenuity of a totally different kind and have possibly far-reaching consequences… consequences which will certainly last a whole lot longer than the emotional response and disappointment which the millions of unwanted gifts that are given each year must surely generate.

Let’s make this a really positive Christmas.

Christmas gift shopping? Sorted!

This winter, instead of having a spending spree celebration, make it a spending free celebration!