My blogging has been off lately as I’ve been recuperating from my first-ever bout of food poisoning. Nasty thing. If you’re ever so unlucky, check here.

But I’m healthy now and find myself suddenly confronted with holiday shopping so I’ve decided to embrace the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood’s Guide to Commercial-Free Holidays.

Not that I’d play grinch to my two little kids but there is something about the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression that makes this season’s rampant commercialism seem more off-key than usual. (Concerns about the economy are so great that experts predict far less spending on presents this year. Reports indicate, however, that spending on advertising will not reflect the downturn.)

Moreover, new scientific research cited in Yes magazine says what spiritual traditions and common sense have told us all along: that happiness, even during the holidays, does not come from spending, buying, and gift giving.

That’s where the CCFC’s practical tips for reducing commercialism in family celebrations this holiday season is particularly welcome.

“Marketing to children is a problem for all of society, all year long,” said CCFC’s director, Dr. Susan Linn, author of The Case for Make Believe: Saving Play in a Commercialized World. “But even as CCFC works for social change, we want to provide direct help for families under siege from the stepped up barrage of holiday commercialism.”

Along with the guide, the CCFC site has collected some good ideas for combating radical consumerism from its members:

From Andrea Mills of Stonybrook, NY
“Establish holiday rituals that don’t involve buying lots of stuff. Baking cookies, doing a craft, reading a special book (my own family read A Christmas Memory by Truman Capote every Christmas Eve in my childhood; it is one of my fondest memories)”

From Simeen Brown in Salem, MA
“A few years ago my sister decided we should take the money we would spend on gifts for each other, pool it and donate it to a charitable organization. It works out great. In my own family my husband and I have stopped buying gifts as well. My husband finds things at yards sales in the summer for “Santa” to give. We bake goodies together and give these out as our family presents. People now look forward to our treats and have stopped extravagant spending on us.”

From Kelly Thomas of Bloomington, IN
“Get your kids outside in nature as much as possible. Going to the woods/forest/some beaches/nature in general is one of the only activities you can do these days that won’t assault you with consumerist propaganda and advertising.”

Download the Commercial-Free Holidays Guide here; learn how CCFC members coast to coast are coping with excessive holiday commercialism, and add your name to the CCFC’s letter writing campaign to major toy marketers urging them to target parents, not children, with their millions of dollars in advertising lucre.

Happy holidays!