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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Stop the stocking stuffers

A hate letter to the ‘Boo Basket’


By MOLLY THOMPSON  — mmtthompson@ucdavis.edu


You thought the spookiest thing that happened this October was your 8:00 a.m. Monday morning calculus midterm after “Halloweekend?” Think again. “Boo Baskets,” as they’re called, are a recent trend of Halloween-themed gift sets that couples curate and exchange around Halloween. The plastic buckets full of sickly sweet candles, gaudy fuzzy socks and cheap (but granted, festive) mugs that haunt your TikTok and Instagram feeds? Those are spooky. They’re a product of the immensely wasteful and unsustainable culture that’s especially exacerbated by the rapidly shifting social media landscape — it needs to change.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a lover of holidays — I want an IV drip of gingerbread and pumpkin spice. This is in no way an anti-celebration perspective, this is an anti-unnecessary-waste appeal. The thing about trends and phenomena like the Boo Basket is that they prescribe buying stuff for the sake of buying stuff. You’re not necessarily purchasing products because you think the receiver will love them so much (of course, you think it’ll make them happy) but you do it more for the concept itself. We’ve all been there: you’re walking through the holiday aisle of Target, picking up random stuff that’s cute, cheap and holiday-themed. It’s not stuff you would have bought otherwise, it’s not necessarily stuff your partner actually wants and, let’s be honest, it’s not often stuff that they’re going to want to keep. You can only have so many novelty mugs with ghost faces on them or cranberry muffin-scented candles before you start having to make cuts — which means that a lot of it is inevitably going to be thrown away.

The Christmas stocking is another prime example of buying stuff for the sake of buying stuff. Most of the time, “stocking stuffers” are little trinkets and things that you forget about a couple hours after you receive them. Big conglomerate companies turn massive profits selling little plastic gadgets and miniature cosmetic products with extra-festive packaging that you don’t actually want, but you like it because it’s there. Welcome to capitalist heaven: the Walmart dollar section.

But as aforementioned, I’m no Grinch — I want to be embalmed in peppermint and cinnamon. I fully support you wanting to show you affection and embody the holiday spirit, I just don’t want you to throw it away afterward. So consider this: instead of buying a plastic bag of individually wrapped candy, make a batch of cute, themed cookies. Get your loved one a cozy, fun book to read. Show them how much you love them by taking them apple picking and treating them to a hot chocolate instead. Stuff your stockings with biscotti from a local coffee shop, a box of tea or a bracelet you made. It’ll mean more than the Target candle too. Your “Boo,” the planet and your wallet will thank you.

I don’t want you to give up your fun. I want you to let the holidays bring you all the best warm and fuzzy feelings. In the draining, soul-sucking world of higher education, we have to take what we can get when it comes to serotonin, and holidays are a wonderful source of this. But I urge you to find your joy in a way that is, at least, slightly less wasteful and unsustainable than society so often demands. I mean, we want to be able to enjoy a lot more Halloweens, Hanukkahs and Christmases, right? We’ve got to give the planet some of that holiday love too if we want to keep celebrating. The Grinch himself, true icon that he is, really says it best: “Maybe Christmas (he thought) doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas perhaps means a little bit more.”

Written by: Molly Thompson — mmtthompson@ucdavis.edu


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