Why you should check your Christmas list twice

By Anna Spoerre, @ASpoerre_DE

The average American will spend $830 on Christmas gifts this year, according to statistica.com.

If that number causes your jaw to drop, then it might be time to reconsider the costs of your shopping list this holiday.

The end of Thanksgiving weekend brings a familiar scene, as Americans frantically start marking items off Christmas lists longer than Pinterest’s selection of inventive leftover turkey creations. 


  • Golf balls for your father.
  • Candles for your mother.
  • A Holiday collectors’ edition Barbie doll for your niece.
  • The newest Mature-rated video game for your nephew his parents wouldn’t buy him — you might have to take this one back.
  • A jumbo box of instant noodles for your roommates so they stop stealing yours.
  • A single pair of athletic socks for your brother.
  • Special treats for your pet.

Sooner or later, we all end up asking the same questions:

  • Is anyone ever really going to appreciate all the work going into this shopping extravaganza?
  • Is it worth the time and money?
  • Doesn’t dad slice six golf balls in the woods per nine holes?
  • Doesn’t mom have candles from the last three years?
  • Won’t my roommate steal my noodles anyway? 
  • Are those socks just going to end up lost beneath a locker in a matter of weeks? 

Let’s take a minute just to consider the Barbie doll: Eleven and a half inches of made-up plastic may cost you $25, but in the grand scheme of economics, Barbie’s cost much more.

Designing a new doll takes a team of more than 100 fashion and style experts, according to Forbes.com. After, the design is sent overseas, where production begins.

Stop and consider the expenses of material extractions, overseas low-wage manufacturing labor, transportation, emissions and time invested into a toy.

This holiday season, I challenge you to re-think your gift-giving.

Leaving the mall empty-handed may make you feel more like Scrooge than Santa, but it does not mean you should also abandon the spirit of giving. There is a whole wealth of untapped alternative gift investments to explore.

B Corporations, or companies that keep in mind all aspects of a business, from the societal and governmental impact to their production footprint, allow consumers to invest in the economy in less wasteful, less harmful ways.

Today, there are more than 1,400 Certified B Corporations working together to redefine success in business past just a monetary measurement, according to BCorporation.net.

But, the possibilities do not end there. What if you unload all the items from your shopping basket and online cart? What if, instead, you take your brother hiking, or take your niece to the zoo to see the cute 11 and a half inch baby penguins. Surprise your roommates with a fancy dinner from a simple and inexpensive recipe you can find online. As long you are not serving microwaveable noodles, they’ll be sure to thank you.

Long after most physical gifts will be forgotten, memories of your experiences will be shared at family dinners and in holiday cards for years to come.

If that is not enough, I’m sure the smile on your niece’s face as you walk through the penguin exhibit will be precious enough to warm your heart this holiday.

Anna Spoerre can be reached at [email protected] or @ASpoerre_DE