Continue America’s tradition to combat useless giving

Christmas tree in Madison Square Park, NYC. Original publisher: Bain News Service. Photo by the Library of Congress

Maybe I just run in the frugal/hippie/earthy circles of people, but all I’ve been hearing about is frugal gift-giving or non-gifting for the holidays. I already had a friend of mine tell me she is giving “experiences” for Christmas: a kid-friendly train ride for her brother and his girlfriend’s two kids; tickets to a play for her mom; shopping with her sisters.

This is the exact opposite from what I see in advertisements: 10 gifts under $10; 20 under $20; etc. I am even guilty of creating such lists. It is catchy and easy.

This all might seem like a new idea, to not give gifts for the holidays and to buck the trend of consumerism.

We really are just taking a clue from our ancestors — in 1911 a philanthropist by the name of August Belmont announced the formation of a new women’s club, the Society for the Prevention of Useless Giving. (See the New York Times’ description from 1912.)

About a year later, the society was so popular that it had enough money from the 10-cent dues to fund America’s first community Christmas Tree ceremony in New York’s Madison Square Park. The group even formed a men’s division.

SPUG went on until the 1940s, when World War II rationing took over. Once the war was over in the 1950s, the group never regained momentum … until maybe now.

Whereas the official SPUG is not revived, the Internet tells a different, informal story. In light of the economic challenges we still face, maybe it is time to give SPUG some thought this holiday season.

Use the three Rs for holiday gift buying
Create DIY gifts

Bethany Fehlinger

Bethany Fehlinger is a journalist in the Design Center at the York Daily Record. She is a graduate of Penn State University and has been a vegetarian and geek for more than six years. Twitter: @Wonder_veggie

You may also like...

1 Response

  1. December 27, 2012

    […] ¬†Give non-gifting a try, or combat useless giving. […]

Leave a Reply