Sitting here toe-tapping and grooving to christmas music, surrounded by the many holiday craft projects the girls and I have started (but not exactly completed yet), I am inspired to finally sit and write the post I’ve been promising . . . the one with some ideas for greener gift giving.
GD Meg’s holiday rant
First let me begin by saying that the focus on the material and commercial aspects of the season is wearing thin for me and not just because my purse is thinner this year either. I personally just don’t need any more junk (BTW, good food and handmade gifts do NOT count as junk) to figure out how to use, store, recycle or re-gift without hurting any one’s feelings. Either people are lying to avoid my ranting, or most of my friends and relatives are feeling similarly.
I’m afraid to get started on the whole decorating thing . . . Look, I love little white twinkling lights and the smell of fresh pine and there is nothing like a sparkling christmas tree with the lights low and the fireplace glowing warm. But, what the heck is going on with these houses and yards covered in lights and every christamas character ever invented lit-up, with the exception of Jesus and his folks of course. And if I never see a blow-up Mickey Mouse santa bobbing and weaving on some one’s front lawn, I’d be a very satisfied scroogette.
Perhaps I’m a little bitter because we had a flood last year and almost ALL our decorations were destroyed. It was kind of hard to say goodbye to the stocking that was knitted for me when I was born and all the tacky and wonderful ornaments and things that were collected and gathered over the years going back to childhood. Oh well . . . a heavy sigh . . . letting go and moving on.
Now is my chance to practice the minimalist/simplest holiday I’ve been working towards. For the past couple of years we’ve put up one REAL pine wreath on the back door (sometimes I breakdown and put one on the front too). We love the smell of pine, so I use pine boughs and garlands all over inside the house and leave the lights for the tree. The girls and I sometimes paint the huge windows in our room where the tree is.
Okay enough of ranting.
Simple, thoughtful and perhaps more sustainable gift ideas
We’re not all Martha Stewart, but if I can come up with reasonably easy and fun gifts to make, a baboon could do it. Trust me. Here are a few crafty gifts my tolerant family and friends have received from me over the years:
- Cranberry Chutney – if you want the recipe, you’ll have to write me for it (and I’ll have to dig it up), but it was relatively easy and everyone loved it (and it came in handy for holiday party gifts too).
- Kaluha – Yup. Made it from scratch. Back in my alcoholic days, I found a recipe and all I remember is that it involved a lot of vodka and sugar. Something about vanilla beans . . .
- Family Recipe Book – This was an ordeal 25 years ago when I did it, but with the advent of the Internet, email and cell phones, I think it will be a little easier to gather the best recipes from all the far-flung aunties, etc.
- Family Event Calendars – My sister started this one and did it by hand for years. With all our birthdays listed, I still managed to forget someone. I tried it by computer a few years ago and it was fun.
- Antique Tea Cup Candles – I had a few random old tea cups that were beautiful but chipped and I decided to buy some wax and make some candles in them. I collected more from garage sales and antique shops – the broken or chipped ones are cheap.
- Handmade Ornaments – We did this before it became as popular as it seems to be now! Fun to do with the kids.
- Handmade Soap – Gotta love Michael’s craft store – everything you need to make the basic soap. I added some things from the garden. You can get all kinds of healthy ingredients. Get creative.
- Knitted Stuff – My family got a lot of scarves and hats last year since that was all I knew, but with the right yarn and a little creativity, you can make these warm fuzzy gifts work. There are lots of patterns for useful items and people seem to LOVE them. Visit my knitting inspiration and friend, Yarny Old Kim for great ideas.
- Baked Stuff – I suck at the cookie thing, but I have a few baked items I’ve begun to master, so I’ve armed myself with some cute small loaf pans with lids and my unsuspecting friends and family will find out what that is about in a couple of weeks.
Instead of giving ‘stuff’, perhaps giving to those in need is the best way to honor the reason for the season. Here are just a few of my favorite ways to share in some one’s name:
- Heifer International – The gift of livestock!
- Habitat for Humanity – Donate money, shop at one of their awesome ReStores
- FeedingAmerica – Formerly Second Harvest – A great way to help those that might be hungry this season
- E+Co – Healthy energy for developing nations
- Local Giving – Find you favorite local charities and keep it close to home!
If You Have to Buy It . . .
Where to find it
- BuyGreen.com – One of my favorite green shopping sites. They have a great rating system that helps to understand the sustainability of a product from end-to-end. Check out the English Retread bags, the Vy & Elle bags, Mandala Record Bowls, and the many products for family, home and office.
- UncommonGoods.com– A great place to find unusual and crafted recycled and re-purposed goodies. Unique gifts for anyone. Love the organic cotton Pooh quote pillows and while we’re on the topic of poo . . . check out the Horse Poo Paper journals.
- VivaTerra.com– One of my very favorite places to shop for beautiful eco-friendly gifts. I buy natural crystal ornaments and give some of them (I keep some too) every year. They have great jewelry too.
- TerraCycle.net – This innovative company has found a way to turn garbage into great products. In addition to their signature worm poo fertilizer, they have a myriad of products for kids and adults made from old juice box and food packaging. Lots of very sustainably made gifts for home and office.
- SweetOrganicsandNaturals.com – A nice selection and variety of gifts, eco-friendly wrapping options.
- PeopleTowels.com– A new concept in personal hand-washing/drying. Great stocking stuffers!
Well, this could go on indefinitely, but I’ll quit there for now. May your holidays be filled with hope, great food, good friends and relatively sane family fun.
eat. blog. be merry!