Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Green Gift Ideas

Black Friday is creeping up on us and as we get our strategery for the shopping extravaganza, why not think of a few ways to make this holiday gift-giving a little greener.  Here are a few ideas on how to make every penny count and put some smiles on people's faces when they open their gifts this year.

Think of quality over quantity:
Try to think of practical gifts that the recipient could actually use and that are long-lasting.  And if you're unsure of what to get that person, give a gift card or cash instead.  Gift cards aren't very eco-friendly because they're made of plastic and end up in the landfill, but I believe it's better than giving something that someone will throw away anyway.  Think of what your recipient is into, or if you don't know the person very well you could give a gift card to a grocery store or gas station, or even a phone card if the person makes lots of international calls. 

Gifts of service:
If you're budget is tight this year, you could offer your time or service as a gift.  Here are a few ideas: baby sitting, cutting someone's lawn, flowers from your garden every month, fruit or vegetables from your garden, dog-walking, or a homemade dinner.  Sometimes your time is worth more than anything you could buy from the store.

Gifts of experience:
If you know someone that has everything, why not give them something different, such as a cleaning service, gift card to a local restaurant or movie theatre, or even a cooking class.  Or maybe a bowling gift certificate, a concert, or anything else the recipient might be into.  It won't clutter up their house and there's nothing to throw away, regift or recycle. 

Photo gifts:
These are my favorite gifts to give because nothing could be more personal than a picture of you with the recipient.  And what grandparent doesn't love to get photos of their grandkids.  Photo books, calendars personalized with your photos, and special frames that can be engraved are great ways to share special moments with loved ones. 

Gift Baskets:
This is another favorite of mine because you can get creative with a theme and specialize it to that particular person.  A movie theme basket: put a couple of DVDs or netflix membership in a popcorn bowl with some popcorn, toppings, and candy, of course.  Cooking basket: pick a cuisine and have fun with it.  For example, an Italian theme: pasta bowls, seasonings, herbs, pasta, and maybe a cookbook.  For the avid reader/writer: a gift card to a local book store, a special bookmark, and a journal with a special pen.  Tea/Coffee basket: give a wooden tray along with a special mug and/or reusable mug, spoon, beverage of choice, cloth napkin and maybe a favorite magazine.

Gifts for children:
Think long-lasting, not trendy.  Puzzles, boardgames, playing cards, craft kits, books, clothes, a hula hoop, or dress-up outfits will last at least a year, if not longer, and won't clutter up your house with a million little pieces that you'll suck up with the vacuum.  Check out "green toys" at pottery barn kids.  These toys are made of recycled plastic milk jugs and are BPA free so they are safe and non-toxic for kids to put in their mouth (plus, they're made in the USA).  Wooden toys are also very eco-friendly and long-lasting.  And also try to avoid buying toys with lots of packaging.  Finally, try to buy gifts that don't require batteries.  The parents will appreciate it as well. :)

Buy Local:
Support your local businesses and economy by shopping within your community.  Local craft fairs have unique and beautiful gifts for that special someone.  Antique shops are great because it's something that's being reused and could add charm to someone's home.  One idea is to make a gift basket of local things from your area for those friends and family that live in a different state. 

This final idea isn't popular with everyone but maybe a certain someone on your list is into a particular cause that they'd appreciate you supporting, such as an animal shelter, food bank, toy drive, or environmental organization.  This is also good for those who have everything and just don't want anything else to clutter up their home. 

So that's it.  Hopefully it gives you a few ideas before you head out to face the crowds at the malls, or shop online in your PJs.  Whichever way you choose to shop, I hope you find a few green gifts for your list.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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