The Common Good

Celebrate 'Buy Nothing Day' with 'Make Something Day'

The day after Thanksgiving, thousands of Americans head for the shopping malls for a ritual known as Black Friday, called such as it's a day when many retailers move from the red (losses) into the black (gains).

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Black Friday is "celebrated" nationwide by working off Thanksgiving's meal by shopping. Over a decade ago another celebration was started on the same day: Buy Nothing Day.

Pioneered by the creators of Adbusters magazine, Buy Nothing Day arose out of a countercultural movement resisting the over-consumptive habits so common here in the West.

But not shopping isn't enough. The decision to not purchase on Black Friday is fairly easy for many of us. We don't have a lot of money as it is. Staying home with family and friends is much more pleasant than the hurried and harried crowds. What is missing is a true alternative. We knew what we weren't going to do, but what would we do instead?

As Christians, the idea of gift giving is central to us. But buying gifts for each other that we don't need while others go without basic human needs being met isn't exactly what Jesus taught. And the amount of waste that Black Friday creates doesn't seem to line up with scripture either.

In 2003, my wife and I invited friends and family over to our house for our first annual Make Something Day. We spent the day eating Thanksgiving leftovers and teaching each other how to make different gifts using our own talents and resourcefulness. Some people sewed, others painted. Some baked, others made cards.

That Christmas we were amazed at how many people had cut back on their holiday spending. Instead, they reused, and recycled. With their own hands they created gifts that were unique and thoughtful.

This last year, we decided to encourage others to do the same as we had. We started a Facebook group and invited people to host their own Make Something Day parties. By the Friday following Thanksgiving, almost 400 people from all over the globe joined the group. Group members shared ideas and resources and posted pictures of their own creations.

Those numbers aren't earth shattering. But on one day, a handful of people scattered across the planet discovered the beauty of making a gift. They found that they didn't have to harm the environment or support international corporations to do so. The wonder of a gift was made human again, and the creative spirit that lays latent in us all was resurrected.

Will this turn the marketplace upside down or stop people from trampling each other at Wal*Mart? Probably not. But it gave back some people's humanity. No longer were we simply consumers. Rather, we realized we are creative humans able to touch the heart of someone by making something with our own hands.

We invite you to de-commodify your soul and join us on Nov. 28 to buy nothing and make something.

Jason Evans lives in San Diego, California, with his wife and two children. Jason is the co-founder of The Ecclesia Collective, a network of Christian communities committed to nurturing grassroots kingdom expressions in San Diego. Visit for details and some helpful ideas to get you started.

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