One antidote to that shopping hysteria (with the attendant traffic, mobs of people fighting over consumer electronics and the circulars that clog my newspaper box all week beforehand) is online swapping. Imagine: You can clear the clutter from your own home and get gift-worthy items in return. Some people might scoff that this is regifting. I say, bring it on.
One such site, Swap.com, put me in touch with Christy Gordon, a SEO content writer in Tampa, Florida, who is a self-professed "swap nerd." For a small fee (either 50 cents or $1) plus postage, Swap.com lets you exchange books, movies, CDs, and video games. Gordon has been involved with 146 trades on that site. "I definitely go through busy phases," she writes. "This is especially true around birthdays or holidays when I'm trying to round up gifts."
Items that she wants aren't always immediately available in suitable condition, but "if I'm patient, a trade will come up sooner or later," she says. For that reason, people may want to start looking early if they have specific gift items in mind, she advises. She also uses paperbackswap.com.
I'm listing a few books on Swap.com and hoping to score a nice-enough copy of The Help to pass on to a sister-in-law. (The site isn't fool-proof. It didn't recognize our Potty Power video now that we're done with it, and believe me when I say there are other parents out there who need their kids to see that thing.)
But if you want to scream against holiday materialism, finding something in your home to swap and a place to exchange it might make you feel better. Just think, you use something once, pass it on for someone else's use, and get something back that you want or someone you love wants. Swap.com tells Gordon she has saved $900 and decreased her carbon footprint by 1,167 pounds. Happy holidays to that.
What do you do on Black Friday? How do you escape holiday shopping madness? Sign in below to let me know.
Photo courtesy Flickr user ginnerobot, CC 2.0
More on MoneyWatch.com:
Why You Should Avoid Black Friday This Year
Clear Clutter and Save Money Before the Holidays
What to Say When Your Relatives (or You) Are Unemployed
Best Children's Books to Give
5 Things NOT to Say to Your Kids About Money