Anti-Gift Guide Gift Guide for the Apocalypse

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Dear Fronds 🌿,

What if we put our “obviously the problem is capitalism” where our mouth is this year and stopped fucking buying new things because the planet is literally rotting in front of our eyes and nobody needs more stuff? It’s time. We have to change our insane consumption behaviors. [Absence of winky joke to break tension and not be a killjoy.] If you are worried people will be like “wow 🙄 thanks” maybe tell them something along the lines of “I’m trying not to buy any new things anymore, because I am trying to defer the part where the planet becomes uninhabitable until at least after we die.”

So. Here is a list of suggestions of gifts that are not new things. I’ve included a lot that are free or very cheap for the other good reason to dismantle the culture of everyone buying everyone new things every year: life is becoming more financially precarious for everyone, which sucks.

Gifts where people don’t actually get a thing from you:

Make a donation in someone’s name. Could be to…

Gaza humanitarian aid!

A bail fund in someone’s city (check out the National Bail Fund Network)!

Animal Shelters!

Save the manatees!

Go to the local thrift store, buy jackets, sheets, blankets, one for every person you’d be giving gifts to, and donate them all to the local migrant or homeless shelter. Take a picture of each item to make it tangible.

Buy a used book for each person you’d be giving gifts to and send them all to prisons instead (check out NoName’s Book Club Prison Program). You can personalize it––send that person’s favorite book???

Gifts where people actually get a thing from you:

Used Things

Used books! Google “used books” there are a lot of sites that sell them. But ideally, go to a used book store. These stores need support. I hope they exist forever. Inscribe the book with a nice note about why you thought of that book for that person.

Buy used/vintage/antique things on eBay/Etsy/at thrift/antique stores. Here’s a store with gorgeous antique French textiles. The Vintage Jesus has a very special selection of vintage and reconstructed Mexican pieces here.

Things that aren’t Things

Support body workers! Get people massages/acupuncture/reiki sessions.

Are you handy? Do you know how to sew? Are you a tech person? Offer to mend clothes or repair things in people’s house or help them fix their computers or update their websites.

Classes/workshops/lessons — if you know someone’s been interested in learning something. Or if they’re already someone who does Yoga, for example, find out where, swoop in and buy them a package of classes/

Make people food. Doesn’t have to be sweets. A friend (love you Nika) made my mom and sister and I a huge dish of paella after my Nana died and that ruled. Dishes that can be frozen can be eaten whenever.

Offer to babysit for people with babies/kids.

Concert tickets —check if their favorite musician or someone you know they like has any tour dates coming up in their city. Get them 2 tickets.

Theater/dance/anything tickets! Support the arts. Maybe this is isn’t a great kind of gift to surprise someone with, but still one I think a lot of people would be happy to receive.

Museum memberships!

A CSA! (A farm share) – Usually a box of veggies a month but there are dairy ones, and other specific ones. Each works a bit differently. Supports small farms. You can search CSAs by zip code here.

Tattoo someone you love’s name on your ass. (Supports the tattoo artist and the person gets to go around telling everyone their name is tattooed on someone’s ass forever on.)

Give people money! You gotta friend who’s struggling and you know it? Don’t be awkward about it. Just give them money. I found a card in my mom’s drawer once when I was a kid from a childhood friend of hers. She was a single mom working 4 jobs to support us at the time. The card just said, “Don’t mention it. Love you.” I thought that was so nice. Nobody is gonna be mad at you for giving them money.

Mallika Vora –

Things that are things but that are better than “new things.”

Stores that sell zero-waste products like The Last Object is a way to still buy someone something new but that will then replace many new things in the future.

Propagate your plants and gift the plant babies! Got a broken mug you’ve been meaning to glue together? Perfect pot. Or punch a hole in the bottom of a can and paint it.

Support artists! This is technically buying a new thing, but it’s an eco-better version of that and we need art in the world!

My friend Mallika Vora is donating 95% of the funds from the gorgeous print (above) of an Acapulco cliff diver to hurricane relief efforts in Guerrero.

Los Chachacha (yes, this is my husband, but he’s awesome, and buying his work supports the work he does in under-resourced communities all over Mexico! also prices are in PESOS not dollars.)

Jessie Lewis, my South African friend in Mexico City makes some very wild work that I love very much.

Los Chachacha –

Zoe Keziah Mendelson is a writer, researcher, information designer, and creative director. She is co-founder of Webby-winning and the author of Pussypedia: A Comprehensive Guide. This post originally appeared on Zoe Keziah Mendelson’s Substack How to Have Fun in the Apocalypse. You can sign up to receive the monthly newsletter here.

Photo by Luca Nicoletti on Unsplash.

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