Editor’s note: This article first appeared in The Kids are All Right, a site for parents of Australian teenagers. The author is the Head Task Master at TaskRunners, which specializes as an online marketplace, helping individuals to find skilled and helpful people in your own community. The author cites many Australian examples, with additional global resources at the end. Regardless of your global location, we can all think a little more creatively about how we engage with the commercialism of the holidays.
‘Collaborative consumption’ is a hot topic right now. It’s the growing movement of ‘sharing’ within your community, made easier and more widespread through developments in technology. It’s old school market behavior – sharing, lending, swapping, bartering – brought into the 21 century.
What better time to try this new (but old) type of consumption than at the beginning of the Christmas season? As you think about gift-giving this holiday season, I am excited to offer you these 10 ways to share – and save – this Christmas.
1. Create food and time: Instead of being tied to the stove for days this Christmas, get in with the gals fromMamaBake! Many hands make light work is the basic driving principle. Groups of people get together to cook in bulk, everyone leaves with several dishes for the rest of the week and a healthy serving of “phew, glad that’s taken care of” to boot. It is also a great way to get a big batch of jams, puddings and cookies together for low cost and delicious Christmas gifts. More time for you to kick back and enjoy that glass (or two) of vino.
2. Rent it and save: The purse takes a real hit at Christmas, with food, holiday bookings, presents and so on … but if you’re attending or holding a Christmas party, save money by renting stuff from your neighbours on Open Shed. BBQs, Eskies and all kinds of cooking equipment are just a click away. We’re pretty sure there’s probably a drill in your garage that could be rented out too!
3. Adopt a friend: If you’re away from the family and facing a Christmas without some kind of celebration, you could get together with other ‘Christmas Orphans’ on Eat With Me. Join in on someone else’s event (or start your own) and simply meet new friends for a meal. Low pressure, fun and delicious company is a great way to enjoy the festive season.
4. Holiday for the pets: The furry kids are just as important as the non-furry ones (some might disagree!). Our pets give us so much joy that the idea of sticking them in a kennel behind bars is simply mortifying. But there is another way! You can book your holiday without guilt and have your favourite pooch stay with another pet lover or be sat in your very own home with Pet Home Stay.
5. Ditch the car: Being stuck in Christmas traffic is enough to make the blood pressure rise, and just try getting a cab during the party season! Instead, try ride sharing websites like JayRide where you can get lifts to events and Christmas parties across town or across the country with other people. You help the planet AND your stress levels when you share the ride and avoid the steering wheel.
6. Bypass the post office: Now you can safely transport those odd-shaped, delicate, funny looking Christmas presents all around Australia via MeeMeep. Using spare space in other people’s vehicles makes it easy and cheap to get your Santa sack into the hands of happy relatives and friends. MeeMeep has also partnered with online auction site GraysOnline, so get those cases of wine delivered for your party, no stress.
7. Holidays on the cheap: Who needs a manger, couch or expensive hotel room when there is AirBnB. You can choose to take a room, a whole house or even sleep in a tram. Powered by the homes and apartments of everyday people, AirBnB literally gives you a home away from home and a whole new experience.
8. Freecycle: Clean out the house this holiday season, and list your items on one of the many Freecycle websites around the country. You might even find the perfect present for someone on your list, and best of all, it will be FREE.
9. Get things done: We all know how terribly large a TO DO list can get at Christmas time, but there is an alternative to you doing everything or barking orders at family members who keep ducking tasks. List it with TaskRunners and de-stress through delegation. The recently launched community-connecting platform can help you farm out that Christmas shopping list, present wrapping, card sending, house cleaning, party catering or even tree decorating. There are people who need the extra cash, you don’t need the extra headache, and between the two of you, getting all that needs to be done at Christmas is as smooth as crème brulee.
10. Give instead of get: Beyond saving your own hip pocket and time bank, giving to a charity and/or buying your gifts through a charitable cause is a great way to de-stress. It’s scientifically proven that giving helps lift our spirits. Plus you are helping reduce the stress of other people who are less fortunate than you. That’s got to be better than a bath bomb, right?
For other creative examples of collaborative consumption, check out Zilok in the US, Hirethings in New Zealand, Zimride in the US, and Couchsurfing (global). Check out this fairly comprehensive snapshot of thousands of examples across the globe of the collaborative consumption movement.