Fifteen Green Holiday Gift Alternatives
For You and Your Family
green, simple, and handmade this holiday season!
Christmas has traditionally been an important time in the life
of many families. It can also be a great opportunity for sharing the rationale
and principles behind
our non-mainstream lifestyles and beliefs with others, especially young children. But if
your extended families and friends aren’t as environmentally or socially aware
as you are, the commercial hype can set up a troublesome conflict. Here are some suggestions for alternative
holiday gifts for kids of all ages, and from children to other family members and
Children love personalized gifts, so create a simple book about the
child, written and illustrated by you. (Or, if you're not artistic, use
reprints or scans of family photos.)
Collect and package all the makings for hand puppets
– brown lunch bags, googly eyes,
scissors, markers etc. Or assemble a collection of child-sized gardening
tools, some seeds to grow plants that would interest kids
– like beans, sunflowers, and pumpkins
– and a small pair of gardening gloves, in a pail.
Record audio or video interviews of parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles;
you can ask them to discuss their memories of the person you plan to give
the gift to, or your family’s history, especially funny or
Frame one of your best photographs. Buy a frame from a local business or
artisan. Or make one yourself out of stiff paper or cardboard, decorated
with colored paper, old wrapping paper, beads and/or leaves, small
pinecones, or seeds.
Make your own calendar using cut-out pictures, photos, and/or drawings.
Assemble a collection of favorite recipes for a young friend or family
member just setting up housekeeping.
Get out your video camera and make a film of the kids putting on a play.
Mail it to the grandparents with a personalized holiday song as the finale.
Bake a basket of muffins and cookies and deliver them to neighbors.
Teens can create hand-decorated coupons promising babysitting while
friends, neighbors, or family members take some time away from their own kids.
Create coupon books of certificates for your children – ten gift coupons
for them to redeem during the year. One could promise a Saturday afternoon
building a playhouse. Another might be a promise of tennis lessons (by you), an
afternoon of making cookies, or a weekend Harry Potter marathon.
Your teenager could make coupons to give to Dad, promising to wash the
car, make dinner, clean up the basement, or other chores.
Assemble a gift basket with compact fluorescent light bulbs, forms for
getting rid of junk mail, healthy recipes, some weatherstripping, and cozy
slippers (so grandma can sty warm while turning down the heat a few degrees).
Give a membership or a donation to a local cause such as a soup kitchen,
a shelter for battered women, a local environment group, etc. Call local
churches, synagogues and charitable organizations for ideas.
Give a membership to your local zoo, museum or art gallery, or "adopt" an
animal at the zoo or to support an endangered species.
Check out our
Crafting for a Greener World columns for more hand-crafted,
eco-friendly gift ideas.