With gift-buying season in full swing I’ve had a couple of readers remind me of this column, in which I made a pledge to try and avoid what I fondly call CPC (which stands for Cheap Plastic Crap). While it hasn’t been a total purge, it has been pretty successful , easier and more rewarding than I imagined.
So in the spirit of recycling this season, here’s an abridged version of my 2011 offering.
When you have children, things invade your life that you never thought possible. Things like ZhuZhu pets, which are annoying little hamsters that move and make squeaky sounds as they reside in their “Zhu-niverse.” They do amazing things like dash under your couch and sit, shrilly squeaking away, forcing you to get up and battle the dust bunnies to rescue them.
Bottom line. No child needs a ZhuZhu pet or most of the other stuff. While everyone likes getting a gift, and not all gifts have to be strictly practical, I think many parents would agree — our children have way too much CPC in their lives. I also note that much CPC is made in China, and while I’m also not boycotting such products, I am making a decision to try and support our local economy as much as I can. Here are a few ideas for those trying to keep the CPC at bay.
Give services, not stuff.
This is a concept I’m embracing. My kids are getting swimming lessons as one of their presents. It will give them hours of enjoyment and benefit them far more than another My Little Pony. To counter the “no-gift-to-open” effect, they will be getting new swimsuits (which they actually need).
I’m hoping for a gym membership or some yoga classes, or if I’m being really decadent, a massage or pedicure. All of these things employ people in our city, don’t bring more CPC into my house and help reduce my stress level.
A haircut, a restaurant meal out or a voucher for some housecleaning services are other ideas that anyone could appreciate. Don’t forget about movie tickets, pool passes or grocery gift cards.
Give locally made gifts.
There is a whole host of art and craft fairs taking place in our city, and the vast majority help support local artisans who do not use CPC in their products.
These products also carry a uniqueness factor. No one else will be walking around town with that same scarf or be serving appies from the same pottery platter. Purchasing local food products, beer or wine is another great way to support our region’s economy and not wind up with anything that might eventually make it into a garage sale.
Make something yourself.
I’m not good at crafts, and baking for days doesn’t appeal. But that doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate homemade presents or the effort that others put into creating them. My children’s handmade Christmas cards are a highlight of my Christmas morning and they are CPC-free.