Giving a gift from the heart doesn’t have to pack a wallup to your wallet or the planet. Instead of asking, “How much should I spend?” Think about asking, “Does it make a minimal impact on the planet?” A gift of time spent together out-of-doors, membership to a museum or a refinished rocking chair might be more meaningful than anything bought in a store.
Want to give a memorable gift that doesn’t hurt the environment?
- Look for gifts that are unpackaged or minimally packaged,without unnecessary plastic wrap or cardboard backing.
- Evaluate the gift for simplicity and durability. Consider the impact of your gift: Is it environmentally friendly and safe for children? Will it be reusable? Is it recyclable or madefrom recycled materials?
- Purchase holiday cards made from recycled paper or make your own fromitems found around the home.
- Help someone recycle – give a can crusher, a set of recycling bins or a recycling cart.
- Draw names or share the cost of a gift with a sibling or friend.
- Give an experience (for example, a ride in a hot air balloon or day trip on a train).
- Make a giant edible cookie holiday card with a personal greeting in icing.
- Give a garden! Seeds, gloves, tools, etc.
- Create a family recipe book.
Still need gift ideas?
- Season tickets to a sporting event.
- Membership to a museum or nonprofit organization.
- Theater tickets.
- Free baby-sitting service.
- New parents? How about diaper service for a month?
- Share in an environmental fund.
- Reusable lunch bag.
- Refillable pens.
- Energy-saving fluorescent light fixture or bulb.
- 100% cotton dish towels or sheets
- Reusable coffee cup.
- Gift basket filled with non-toxic household cleaners
- An old tricycle, bicycle, rocking chair, etc., fixed up to pass along as an heirloom.
- Automatic thermostat control device
- Compost bin.
- Reusable food storage containers.
- Cloth shopping bag.
- Cloth napkins and rings.
- House plant.
- Solar watch or calculator.
- Reusable razor.
- Durable hand tools.
- Durable wooden toys.
- Quilts and comforters.
- Water-saving showerhead.
- Personalized “coupons,” such as a night off from dish duty, a foot massage, etc.
- Bat roosting box – bats keep insect populations down.
- Gourmet dinner for a busy couple.
- Bird feeder and seed.
- A subscription to a favorite environmental magazine.
- Stationery – made from recycled paper, of course – and stamps.
- Reusable bags, bows and gift wrapping.
- Car safety kit packed into a coffee can (e.g. candles, orange hazard triangle, etc.).
- Shutoff-timer for watering the lawn.
Looking for a gift-wrap alternative?
- Scarves, handkerchiefs or bandanas.
- Old posters and maps.
- Pages from a child’s coloring book taped together
- Old sheet music.
- Last year’s holiday paper
- Wallpaper scraps.
- Home-sewn cloth bags.
- Fabric scraps.
- Pictures or advertisements from magazines and catalogs.
- Sunday comic pages.
- A present in a present (e.g., a hat in a matching scarf, jewelry in a wooden box, cookies in a reusable tin or cookie jar, barbecue grill utensils or picnic supplies in a tablecloth, kitchen gifts in towels or all-purpose cloths).
- A plain box decorated with leftover glitter, paint, markers, etc.
- A cake pan, basket or a wooden box.
- Reusable decorative bags.
Need packing material? Try:
- Popcorn (explain that birds can eat it.)
- Biodegradable starch packing peanuts.
- Used packing peanuts from previous gifts
- Crumpled ads from the newspaper
Looking for a final touch?
- Bows saved from other gifts.
- Reusable items (e.g., hair bows, ornaments, shoe laces or toys).
- Stencils or pictures from holiday cards pasted onto a plain brown paper bag or box.
- Last year’s holiday cards cut up for gift tags.
- Old neckties.
- Spices, (E.g., bundled cinnamon sticks or cloves in mesh cloth).
- Scrap fabric, lace, yarn, rickrack
- beads and buttons.
- Dried or silk flowers.
Want a holiday tree?
- Consider buying a potted Norfolk pine, fig tree or indoor house plant that can be used every holiday season as your evergreen tree.
- Purchase a tree from a tree farm rather than cutting one down in the wild.
- Use trimmed branches from your tree for decorating around the home or making wreaths.
- Consider buying an artificial tree that can be reused every year.
- Decorate evergreen bushes or pine trees outside a window with removable, reusable decorations.
Need green decorations?
- Memorabilia, such as a child’s first shoe or grandma’s hankie scented with perfume.
- An old full skirt as a tree skirt.
- Old jewelry (E.g., necklaces, earrings or bracelets).
- Items collected on vacation.
- Small stuffed animals and toys.
- Cookie cutters.
- Miniature toy cars.
- Dressed-up doll as a tree-topper.
- Holiday card ornaments.
- Edible cookie ornaments
- Small pictures from old magazines or holiday cards
- Popcorn and cranberry strings (can be eaten by animals after the
- Buttons knotted on a sturdy length of string.
- Gingerbread people and reindeer from leftover brown paper grocery bags
- Tin can luminary
|Party Reduction Waste Tips
Reprinted from Anoka County
* Use reusable tableware; if you don’t have enough, borrow tableware from friends or family. If you must buy disposable tableware, buy sturdy plastic so they can be washed and reused
* If you entertain often, buy tableware from used stores to keep on hand
* Buy baked goods and snack foods in bulk
* Rent party decorations, centerpieces and costumes instead of buying your own
* Use colorful sheets you have on hand for tablecloths, or handkerchiefs for napkins instead of buying paper or plastic
* Rent, rather than buy a tux or gown for a formal occasion
* Place well labeled recycling containers by your garbage can so guests can recycle
* Encourage host or hostess to reuse bows or wrapping paper and to recycle
* Turn down the heat before guests arrive – their extra body heat will help warm the room
* Plan meals wisely and buy based on the number of guests you expect
* Give extra food to guest in reusable containers or reused plastic bags
See Also: Arts: Paper Projects: Gift Bags