White Friday anyone? Try an Alternative to Stuff This Holiday Season

By Mike and Dan Hiestand, The Houstory Brothers

 

no more stuff, #nomorestuff

Instead of waking up earlier and earlier on Black Friday (or increasingly never going to bed as more stores compete to open their doors first), battling the traffic and fighting the crowds for more stuff, what if you gave White Friday a try instead?

For the past few years, we’ve run our “No More Stuff” holiday campaign that encourages people to re-think the relationship they have with the objects and things that surround them before they head out shopping for things they may not really need or even truly want.

This year, we’re giving the campaign an official kickoff day — the day after Thanksgiving. Yes, we know we have some competition — so we’re calling ours White Friday.

Here’s how White Friday works: You sleep in as long as you need to. You sip your tea or coffee and bask in the memories of family and Thanksgiving the day before. Maybe you have a bit of breakfast. And then — when you’re ready — you take a leisurely stroll around the house taking notice of — and being grateful for — a few of the important pieces of “stuff” you already have. Maybe it’s an old family clock. Or a table that’s hosted family gatherings (such as dinner the day before). Or a treasured family photo. Or a special family cookbook. Or the crazy doo-dad sitting on the shelf that’s been in your life for as long as you can remember. And you write down their stories. (We call the things that you choose “heirlooms” here at The Heirloom Registry — but it’s really anything — old/new, expensive or “price-less” — that holds meaning for you.)

If you’re traveling and you’re waking up at your folks’ house (or grandparents’ — or some other relative) all the better! Let them choose the things that are important and whose stories they feel are worth sharing. You walk around with them, listen and take some notes. Maybe snap a photo or two of your family member in front of things he/she is talking about.

Here’s what I promise:

  1. You will learn something memorable you didn’t know before.
  2. You will smile.
  3. In years to come, you (and your family) will appreciate this simple gift more than almost anything else you could buy at 4 am.

It doesn’t have to be fancy or complicated

To make it easy, we are gifting you this free, downloadable form that will help you collect some of the more pertinent information. When you finish you can simply attach the form to the back of the “heirloom” or file it with your important documents.

You can also try out The Heirloom Registry — for free — by signing up this holiday season for a complimentary registration number when you visit our Web site. (If you want to get a bit more fancy by ordering a permanent registration label or plate, we can help you with that.) But you don’t need to.

The important thing is that you do it. Because the stories of our family heirlooms usually disappear with our family members. And an heirloom without a story is — as we say — just more stuff.

We know it might sound crazy. And if you genuinely need that digital bathroom scale and can get it for the insanely low price of $9.99, go for it. (We all need things. That’s life on Earth.) Heck, there’s no reason you can’t enjoy a mixture of both Black and White Friday. A Shade of Grey Friday feels like a step in the right direction.

But be the change you want to see in the world, right? We’d like a world that  makes room for a White Friday.

And we’d like to sleep in.

Happy Holidays!

Mike and Dan

 

Preserve, conserve, #nomorestuff

 

HoustoryHerd: NoMoreStuff Edition

By Dan Hiestand, Houstory Marketing Guy

dan hiestand, houstory, heirloom registry, home history book

Connect with me on LinkedIn!

A few years ago, my family recognized that gift-giving during the holidays was really becoming more of a burden than a pleasure.

This was a pretty big shift, because my side of the family is not small. In addition to my parents, I have five brothers, two sister-in-laws, three nieces and a wife. We are all extremely fortunate to have roofs over our heads, food on the table and plenty of creature comforts that make life not only easier but enjoyable, such as the laptop I’m using to compose this.

In other words, we are not for need of anything.

consumerism, #NoMoreStuff, heirloom registryAround the same time, we also realized we were also not for want of any things, either. Rather, we all seem to prefer experiences (such as eating out, traveling or simply getting together) as the activities we liked to spend our disposable income on. For many folks, I think this is a common theme. Buying less “stuff” (everyone probably has their own definition of what that means — I just know it when I feel it) and choosing to re-invest those funds into non-material items can be both more memorable and meaningful than a great Black Friday deal.

In response to this evolution, my family developed a lottery system where we would pull names out of a hat and purchase a gift for that person. One gift per person. Now, as we all get older and fully realize the significance and importance of family connection, we concentrate our efforts and funds on simply getting together to enjoy each other’s company. I’m not saying we don’t give gifts. If I see something that I know a family member will truly appreciate, I won’t hesitate to purchase it, and vice versa. But there are no expectations.

thanksgiving, holidays, family history, #NoMoreStuff

As an example of a non-material offering that I consider absolutely priceless, last year — as a special gift — my mom and dad walked around their house and documented  the family history behind several key family heirlooms in their home. Now, those precious stories are safely recorded online at The Heirloom Registry, and accessible to our family, both now — and long into the future — after those stories can no longer be shared in person.

Let’s face it, the holidays are often one of the few times we are able to bring family members together at one time. Depending on the family — and I understand some family dynamics are a little more stressful than others — this is an extraordinary opportunity. At the end of the day, it’s up to you to choose how you spend these few, fleeting moments. I’m just asking you to recognize that each year that goes by is another opportunity to connect with those you love on a deeper level.

This year, as during the past two years, we are urging you to say, ” NoMoreStuff .” Share your photos and stories of family heirlooms, family histories, house histories, etc., that show you’ve decided to say “yes” to deeper family connections, and “no” to the rat race.

Simply tag them #NoMoreStuff on social media. Spread the message — join us in our No More Stuff Revolution!

Happy Thanksgiving!

PS: I’m informing this week’s poll with help from PBS NewsHour, which recently posed a great question that directly relates to the theme.

thanksgiving, black friday, shopping

Thank you, PBS for the screen shot!

 

 

Now, on to The Herd….

What is “The Hearth Herd.” It’s simply a roundup (hence the name “Herd”) of a few stories we’ve seen recently that we feel our fellow Houstorians would be interested in. The Herd’s content will be confined to three main categories: 1) House and property history; 2) Family heirlooms; 3) Natural Resource Conservation. Basically, the things you’ve come to expect when you visit our blog.

This is where you come in: If you see stories you think would make our monthly collection, please shoot me an e-mail to info (at) houstory (dot) com, say hello on our Facebook page or send us a Tweet

Author: connectmidmissouri.com— Referred by  The New England Historic Genealogical Society

TitleA priceless family treasure

Herd-Worthy Because: “Sara realized if she didn’t get the pictures back, ‘That would have been a large portion of our family’s history gone for three dollars.'” Whoops!

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Author: Al Jazeera America

TitleHomeless dragged down by belongings, as cities view keepsakes ‘trash

Herd-Worthy Because“(Items like family keepsakes are) garbage, as far as the cities are concerned. This is trash and an unsightly mess. If you can’t lug it when you take off, it’s going in the trash. Period.”  Imagine if you had to haul your entire world — including your family heirlooms — with you every day. And you had no permanent place to put them. All while living on the streets.

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Author: Eastman’s Online Genealogy Letter

TitleMake a Google Will

Herd-Worthy Because: “Many of the online services we use every day have no contingency plans for a deceased customer’s heirs to take over the account and save whatever is online for posterity.” Getting your affairs in order for the great beyond. Yes Dick Eastman, you’re speaking our language!

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House History

Author: connectmidmissouri.com— Referred by  The New England Historic Genealogical Society

TitleThe Schoolhouse from The Birds Is Now a Beautifully Restored (and Haunted) Private Home

Herd-Worthy Because: Remember when actress Tippi Hedren’s character Melanie Daniels asked this question? “Have you ever seen so many gulls? What do you suppose it is?” I’m thinking it may have been tainted salmon, but those were some angry birds! But this isn’t about that. It’s about an iconic schoolhouse-turned-private house.

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Author: The Guardian

TitleThe Making of Home review – Judith Flanders’s history of how our houses became homes

Herd-Worthy BecauseA fascinating 500-year history charts the transformation of our houses from uncomfortable workplaces into cosy sanctuaries

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Natural Resource

Author: Eastman’s Online Genealogy Letter

TitleCreate a Permanent Living Legacy that Memorializes the Passing of a Loved One

Herd-Worthy Because: “The goal is to directly rehabilitate and rebuild the dying ocean reefs and, in turn, add new habitat to the marine environment. For families and individuals that choose cremation, Eternal Reefs offers a unique memorial choice that replaces cremation urns and ash scatterings with a permanent environmental living legacy.” Hmm, environmental protection plus family history. We likey!

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Author: Story of Stuff

TitleBuy Less, Live More

Herd-Worthy Because: From now through the end of December, the Story of Stuff is on a mission to collect pictures and stories from supporters who believe there is more to the holidays than shopping and consuming. Sound familiar? Check out their cool campaign!

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Until we “Herd” again…

Buying ‘stuff’? Try an alternative this season

By Dan Hiestand, Houstory Marketing Director

When I was younger — particularly in college — I used to think the greatest thing in the world was the dollar store. After all, where else could you buy a grocery cart full of household supplies and groceries on a budget?

Need bathroom cleaner?

Check.

Peanut butter and jelly?

Check.

Cheap plastic gadget I thought was so cool and so essential that I had to buy it, but was forgotten about by the time I got home and was either given away or tossed in the garbage (and eventually the landfill) within a year?

Check.

This isn’t a post to bash dollar stores. On the contrary, discount stores are an essential component for many people looking to save a buck on vital household items.

Rather, this is a request to stop and consider what we choose to consume because ultimately it does matter. Regardless of your position on global warming, the environment or everything in between, I think we can all agree that waste is never a good thing.

no more stuff, #nomorestuff

Last year, we ran a holiday campaign that encouraged people to re-think the relationship they have with the objects and things that surround them before they head out shopping for things they may not really need or even truly want.

The campaign’s name: “No More Stuff/Preserve. Conserve.

Preserve, conserve, #nomorestuff

We’ve gained a lot more followers since that initial campaign, so instead of repeating what I said, I’ll simply direct you to my words from last December. I would encourage you to take a look.

Then, let us know what you think.

Do you agree? Is too much stuff a problem? Do you believe that we are over-hyping this? Let’s have a conversation.

A different kind of December: Say ‘no’ to more ‘stuff’ — honor what you already have

By Dan Hiestand, Houstory Sales and Marketing Director

Editor’s note: I can break the rules. I’m off-topic before I begin. Just give me second, ok? If you are ever bored and have time to waste, Google “stupid gifts for pets.” Better yet, do an image search. You’re welcome in advance, and this will actually make sense if you read the article below. Enjoy!

It’s ironic that as the sales and marketing director of a company I helped create, I originally had to sell myself on my own product line.

Don’t get me wrong: I’ve always thought the concepts we champion (telling the stories behind houses and heirlooms) are fascinating.  After all, research, writing and crafting stories have been pillars of my professional life for the past 15 years.

consumerism, consumer culture, houstory, heirloom registry, shopping, holidays

Our products (The Home History Book™ and The Heirloom Registry™) are steeped in story, and I’ve always been sold on these ideas. How can you not appreciate learning the background of a unique relic, the chair grandma used to sit in every night after dinner, a grandfather clock — or the intimate details of a 1920s Craftsman home?

Concept was never the problem. No, my issue was much more tangible.

Simply put, I didn’t want to put more “stuff” into the world. Now, stuff is a broad term, but in my mind it has a reasonably clear meaning: items that hold little or no value in terms of practical use, sentimentality or enduring entertainment.

If an item falls into one of these three categories, I don’t believe it to be just “stuff.” Let’s break this down.

********************

Practical Use

These are items you genuinely can’t live without, and probably use more than a couple times per month.  They may include everything from a vacuum cleaner to a pair of shoes to a computer and all sorts of things in between.

Sentimentality

Admittedly, this is in the Houstory wheelhouse. These include items that you are holding on to simply because they inspire and move you. Family keepsakes, photos and heirlooms would fall into this category, of course.

Enduring Entertainment

I’m not the “stuff police,” ok? If you want to buy a flat screen TV, or spend money on a new camera, book or electric slippers, more power to you. I would simply ask that you consider the item’s true value to your life before pulling the trigger. Will you still be using these items in five years, or will they simply be discarded in a landfill  in a few months?

********************

I realize I run the risk of sounding preachy, but I’m not trying to. I just think if I’m going to make such a declaration, I need to define my terms.

Heck, I’m writing this from a laptop, and my home is filled with things – including stuff. Did I truly need that box of Dog Cigars (see “stupid gifts for pets” reference above)? No. That’s a poor example, actually. I don’t even own a dog.

However, I think it’s safe to say most everyone has stuff, including me.

Which brings me back to selling myself on Houstory. Before I invested time, money and started down this entrepreneurial path, I needed our products to meet this self-imposed “anti-stuff” criterion.

In particular, The Home History Book – a substantial coffee table book with 244 pages and an engraved brass plate – gave me pause for introspection. Being built to last, which the book certainly is, requires effort and natural resources. While we did our level best to build the book responsibly (see “Built Responsibly” link at bottom of home page), we also wanted to ensure it would be something that provides long-term value to its owners.

Happily, in the end, not only did I conclude we are not just selling stuff, we are actually helping people to transform their items from being “stuff” into valued belongings.

We believe the more you know about your possessions– whether they are houses or heirlooms – the more likely you are to hold on to them, and not just demolish or discard and replace them with newer, shinier stuff.

family history, conservation, preservation, houstory, heirloom registry

Why are most historic homes valuable? Quality construction? Perhaps. Location? Maybe. Or is it history? Every day, homes are saved from demolition because of the stories behind them.

What about family heirlooms?  Picture two identical grandfather clocks, side-by-side. However, you know that one clock was purchased by your great-grandfather as a wedding gift for your great-grandmother.  You know nothing of the other clock. Which one would you probably keep and maintain?

Undoubtedly, historical preservation leads to conservation.

Sadly, the term conservation has become highly politicized, divisive and attributed to more liberal-leaning factions. I’m not quite sure why, as the term “CONSERVative” is derived from the very same root word.

In reality, I think all parties are on the same page: We want to leave things better than we found them for future generations. If you do feel this way – and we think you do – do something about it.

Which brings us to our “No More Stuff/Preserve. Conserve.” campaign this month. Here are some things you can do right now.

houstory, heirloom registry, home history book, shopping, holidays

Preserve. Conserve.  And say “no” to “more stuff.”

Do it differently this December.

 

Let us know what you think. Do you agree with our campaign? Do you think we are full of hot air? Do you have too much stuff? Do you think buying stuff  — as we’ve defined it — is even a problem? Do you own Dog Cigars? We want to hear from you. Let’s get this conversation started.