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Less Materialistic Holiday Season?

This article was written by in Consumer, People. 12 comments.

The Center for a New American Dream conducted a poll about materialism surrounding the holidays and found some interesting results:

… [M]ore than 3 in 4 Americans (76%) say that kids are too materialistic, and the holiday season just makes things worse. Only 28% of those polled say that it is necessary to spend a lot of money in order to have a fulfilling and enjoyable holiday, and nearly four out of five Americans surveyed said that they would like to have a more simplified holiday season this year.

The full press release is here [pdf]. The poll also shows that more people intend on giving savings-related gifts such as piggy banks and savings bonds. How does this findings stack up with other research this year?

* An ABC News survey shows Americans plan to spend more on holiday gifts this year, a 23% increase from last year, but other things can get in the way of these plans, such as a transit strike which the media reminds the public is illegal.

* The National Retail Federation claims online retailers are more optomistic now than they were at the beginning of the season (when the AMC News survey was conducted). So retail sales should be better than expected.

It seems to me people have great intentions when it comes to less materialism and more saving, but it rarely plays that way once the holiday spirit is upon us. What do you think? Have you seen any evidence of a less materialistic and a more savings-oriented holiday season?

Updated July 16, 2010 and originally published December 22, 2005. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.

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About the author

Luke Landes is the founder of Consumerism Commentary. He has been blogging and writing for the internet since 1995 and has been building online communities since 1991. Find out more about Luke Landes and follow him on Twitter. View all articles by .


avatar thc

The problem with these surveys is that no one is going to admit that they intend to become more materialistic. C’mon, be honest. All of us want more money, more stuff and a bigger house. It’s just not pc to say so.

avatar ~Dawn

People complain about materialism, but do nothing about it. Want your kids to be less materialistic? two way:
1- say NO!
2- Lead by Example
The End… of materialism.

avatar mbhunter

I did all of my surprise shopping — i.e. the stuff that my wife doesn’t already know what it is — at a thrift store — for under $5. Three gifts: two for her, one for my daughter. We don’t use Christmas as an excuse to buy a lot of stuff — if we need or want something, we get it. I feel almost no pressure to get stuff this time of year.

avatar Retireat30

Materialism isn’t the problem – we need material things to survive. It is debt financed consumption for the sake of consumption that is the problem.

If you’re going to get people christmas gifts that truly add to their lives, get them a sharebuilder gift certificate, or flight lessons if you want a big ticket item. Whatever it is, buy something thats going to add value to their lives – don’t just buy stuff.

avatar Luke Landes

It’s semantics, but the sense in which I mean “materialism” is “placing primary importance on material objects,” not just “desiring material objects.” Some call this sense “Chrisitian Materialism” due to New Testament passages that speak against it, but I see no reason to bring religion into it.

The act of gift giving should always keep the recipient in mind, which is kind of what you say, Retireat30. For some, material objects may add that value to that person’s life, whether we agree with the philosophy or not.

Take someone who is infatuated with receiving expensive figurines. A giver has two options: (1) make that individual happy by giving her a figurine or (2) try to convince her that she shouldn’t base happiness on figurines. It will take a good amount of brainwashing to modify a person’s core philosophy, which is usually ingrained by his or her parents.

avatar Jodi friedman

Hi, my name is Jodi and I am a casting producer for ABC television and the show Wife Swap. I am looking to feature a family on our show who non-mainstream and against consumerism and materialism. It would be great to share their way of life and raise awareness on how people can reduce waste in their everyday lives! I came across your site and thought you would be interested, or know a family who is.

In case you are unfamiliar with the show, the premise of Wife Swap is to take two different families and have the mom’s switch place to experience how another family lives for six days. Half of the week, mom lives the life of the family she is staying with. The other half, she introduces a “rule change” where she implements rules and activities that her family has. It’s a positive experience for people to not only learn, but teach about other families and other ways of life.

Families featured on the show receive $20,000, and if you refer a family that is selected to be on our show, we pay you $1,000 per referral. Each family should consist of two parents, at least one child between the ages of 5-17, and should reside in the continental U.S.

If you or any families you know are interested in applying and/or speaking with me, you or they are welcome to email me at jodi.friedman@rdfusa.com, telling me a bit about the family and a number where they can be reached.

Thank you and I hope to hear from you soon!


Jodi Friedman
Casting Producer
New York, NY