The holidays can be hard on all things green: from your money to the environment. This year, give both a break by trimming down your approach to holidays. Embrace gifts that are low in cost, don’t require excessive shipping, and help preserve both the environment and your cash.
Start by giving yourself lots of time. Sure, it’s easy to stay in holiday denial until mid-December before trekking to the mall to do all of your shopping in one big bang. However, this almost guarantees you’ll fall victim to high prices, impulse purchases, and novelty gifts.
Use some creative brainstorming to come up with non-traditional gifts, such as donations, services you can offer or things you can make. Focus on the meaning behind the gift, rather than the item’s designer, cost, or impact.
Need some ideas to get started? Try these:
Use your digital camera. Take lots of candid photos of you and your family and friends. Put them together in a photo collage, a digital camera frame, or desktop background.
Giving tickets to pro-sports events can send your bank account in a spiral. But campus sporting events are cheaper, if not free, and are a fun way to spend time with friends or family. Look at your own school or those in the area and invite your loved ones for an evening out.
Yard sales are the king of the recycle/reuse movement. Get out early on a weekend morning and look for antiques, clothing, gently used toys, collectables. Add a bit of repair or elbow grease, and you’ve found a bargain gift.
If you’re away from home, bring the folks back home a taste of your curernt location. Support some of the local merchants and bring home food products, art, or other items which reflect your location.
Donating to a charity in someone’s name is a great gesture, especially for that person who literally has everything. However, if you’re short on funds, donate your time or services.
You can also donate your time to your gift recipient: offer to babysit the new parents on your list, ask your elderly aunt what she needs done around the house, or bake your starving brother a batch of cookies.
If you have an avid reader or news buff on your list, look for online subscriptions to magazines or newspapers. These often cost less and produce less waste.
Vintage clothing shops offer huge savings on anything from a worn-out pair of jeans to a cast-off designer hoodie. Each day is different, so visit often for best results.
Don’t derail your green-friendly intentions with an overdone wrapping job. Buy recycled wrap, or wrap that supports a good cause. Most major charities or hospitals come out with cards and wrap, a portion of which benefits their cause. Or present your gift in a unique way that doesn’t require packaging, such as a reusable basket or tote bag.
Instead of disposable ribbons and bows, top your gift off with a useful gadget: a cooking tool for the food enthusiast, a dog toy for pet owners.
Though it may take extra thought and planning, focusing on the green this season is sure to make your holidays happier!