The goal is to give presents of a recycled, made, or otherwise stridently not-purchased variety. Any holiday can be a No New Holiday!
1) Use these guidelines to help shape your gift-giving season, not everyone else's. Be a good sport, laugh off the small stuff, and always be gracious when receiving any gift. From anyone. (See Rules #7-8.)
2) Gifts must be recycled, reused, repurposed or hand-made.
3) Consumerism is not the enemy–waste is. Feel free to buy something recycled, reused, or repurposed. Buy things that are hand-made by someone else. But before you wander into gray area with a shrink-wrapped bar of soap from some small company in Vermont, ask yourself. Is it really No New? And truly hand-made? A human hand may have, at some point, touched a set of Legos. That doesn’t make them hand-made. (See Rule #8 for wiggle room.)
4) If you are hand-making gifts, new ingredients get a pass. Food in general gets a pass. It is unwise to recycle chocolate.
5) Gift Wrap must conform to Rule #2. (But see Rule #10.) A fancy box, cloth sack, or mysterious jar can work wonders. If there are children in your midst, you might feel you can’t do without that New-In-The-Box surprise... but they might surprise you. Especially if you let them in on the game before the big day.
6) Stockings must conform to Rule #2.
7) Service Gifts must... these are tricky. Are massages new or made? How about that wine-and-cheese-of-the-month-club? This is a wild card rule. At the end of the day, it’s your call, whether or not that heifer is No New or not. (You actually get to decide on all of these rules. It’s Choose-Your-Own-Holiday-Adventure, and you’re winning!)
8) If a gift is 100% No New from top to bottom, bonus points! I say you've earned a little wiggle-room. For other items, like the Death Star 10188.
9) Since there is no zero-waste alternative, embrace the USPS.
10) (This one is a bit of a cheat.) Gift wrap purchased at 90% off last year totally counts as No New.
A version of this post appears as an article in the December 2012 issue of the Vine, the Davis Food Co-op's newsletter.