Black Friday 2013: Make it a Light Friday instead

Black Friday 2013: Make it a Light Friday instead
Make homemade holiday gifts with your family.

I hate Black Friday. I could say that it's because Black Friday is the embodiment of all that is wrong with society today. Or because big corporations are evil. Or because we shouldn't go straight from counting our blessings on Thanksgiving to chasing luxuries the following day. But honestly? I just find Black Friday exhausting.

Getting up in the middle of the night, dealing with crowded parking lots, figuring out where that one deal I wanted was sitting in the store, finding the display empty by the time I got to it, then wandering the store for a bit looking for lesser deals, and finally standing in a ridiculous line. And don't even get me started on how people treat each other during the frenzy.

You know what I like to do the day after Thanksgiving? Eat oatmeal in my jammies and pull out the Christmas decorations. Then eat leftovers while we decorate a tree. Then eat popcorn while we watch a movie. I really like pajama pants and eating.

I was content with this plan for quite some time, but last year, a group of my friends suggested getting together to make gifts on Black Friday. It was meant to be a subversive activity – a bold stand against corporate greed and pathological consumerism. But it was also a lot of fun.

Our crafters and artists created gifts that were made by hand, made in America, and made by people who were comfortable, safe, and well-fed while they worked. Our child labor practices might have been a bit suspect, but otherwise, most of our social concerns about gift-giving were alleviated.

Bringing our families together sent a great message to our kids about what is important during the holiday season – thoughtful gifts made with love, and spending time with people you enjoy. By all accounts, this event was a blast. I'm really looking forward to our Light Friday this year.

Everyone brings food to share and craft materials. If each family chooses a project and brings the materials for lots of people to make that gift, you will have a wide variety of activities to choose from. Grab your wallet-size photos and whatever extra craft supplies you have sitting around, just in case inspiration strikes while you are working.

Whether you are raising your fist to rail against The Man or just enjoying some quality time with your friends and their families, this is a great way to spend Black Friday. I have linked to some simple, beautiful DIY gifts below, if you need some ideas. Make sure you buy your supplies today so you aren't forced into the melee on Friday.

Are you artistically challenged? Me too! Here are links to some very concrete and simple projects that make terrific gifts:

Upcycled paper bag baskets

Upcycled paper bag baskets

Upcycled paper bag baskets take a bit of time, but these are gorgeous. Lia provides an excellent tutorial at







Twine-wrapped bottles

Twine-wrapped bottle

Twine-wrapped bottles turn alcoholism into décor.







Swirled paint ornaments

Swirled paint ornaments

Swirled paint ornaments are stunning and deceptively easy.







Truffula tree bookmarks

Truffula tree bookmarks

Truffula tree bookmarks demonstrate how easy finger-knitting is. My 6-year-old made a ton of these bookmarks last year. They are light and durable for shipping far and wide this holiday season.




Kate Dougherty Purl is a parent, teacher and blogger living in the far west suburbs of Chicago and trying to balance her priorities and what she's  learned about nutrition, gardening, native plants, and cycling. Enjoy more of Kate's observations, recipes and suggestions for living a happier, healthier life on her blog, The Reluctant Hippie.

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