I'm Dreaming of a Green Christmas
Yes, I am buried in more feet of snow than I can count right now. And as festive as that looks, a trip to the beach would be nice. But I’m not talking about skipping the snow. I’m talking about simple steps you can take, even at this late date to have a “green” eco-friendly Christmas holiday. Read on.
This list is one I just sort of came up with today while I was thinking about different holiday categories and how I could make an effort in each. Some items here are gift suggestions, others involve packaging tips, and some have to do with basic holiday entertaining. All are eco friendly in some way or manner.
1. Electronic holiday cards – They can be mailed out in a flash, require no postage (so the price is right), and have absolutely no packaging to worry about.
2. Netflix subscription – No trucking back and forth burning expensive gas, you can order instantly online, and they really make the extra effort to conserve packaging on their return envelope. Bonus? People can try out movies they might not otherwise have access to at the local video rental store.
3. Digital photo frame – Include some digital family or personal pictures along with it. These are a great way to cut down on the number of printed photographs, and you can store your copies online, knowing your family photos will be secure in any emergency.
4. A cool cloth lunch bag. If you’re feeling extra crafty and have extra time, there’s an idea for a homemade one in my previous post on denim. If you’re not feeling crafty however, and would really like an affordable gift, this should definitely fall in the less than five dollar category, along with the other cool suggestions Julie came up with.
5. Organic wine – These are really coming to the forefront now, and I mentioned one company in a recent wine review post that carries some. If that price is a little more than you were hoping to spend, a popular one we’ve been picking up lately as an inexpensive casual alternative is called Our Daily Red. The label is super cool, and if it’s available at my grocery store up here in the woods, I’m quite certain many of you could find it where you are.
6. Edible, compostable center pieces and decorations. A few ideas for this one include stacked Christmas colored fruit, a bowl of cherries, punch bowl with water, cranberries and a few floating tea candles, basket of nuts, and natural wreaths and garlands cut from your yard. Need to keep the greenery decorations ultra affordable? There’s information on making a box wreath from left over wire hangers in this previous green living post.
7. Cloth napkins and table linens. If you don’t have any family ones that have been handed down, this would be an affordable, last minute time to pick up some solid color, non-themed ones that you could use throughout the year for a little extra style and glamour. It might be a bit of an up front splurge, but in the long run you’ll be going green and saving money at the same time. Bonus? You won’t have to run out every year and restock your paper supply.
8. Try going with a potted Christmas tree you can plant afterward. Before it ended up in your living room, it contributed to the atmosphere in at least some small way. Bonus? Eventually, you’ll be able to harvest the lower branches every year to make your own (and maybe some to sell) wreaths, garlands, and hanging greenery balls. So this is a green Christmas trick that conceivably offers a lifetime of use.
Go natural with your aroma therapy. Everyone likes their house to smell great this time of year. Instead of chemical laden sprays and potpourri oils, try some all natural essential oils with a bit of water in a miniature aroma therapy crock pot. You’ll have them throughout the rest of the year to make your own spa products whenever you’re stressed out and need your own private holiday. Not cheap enough for you? Save your apple cores and peelings in a container in the freezer and toss those in the small electric crock with some water instead. Doesn’t get much cheaper than that. Add some sprinkled in cinnamon if you feel like spending an extra penny or two.
10. The American Express pre-paid gift card. Can’t get much lower on the “low packaging” eco-scale than this one. And people can use it to purchase whatever they want, including items that support the green movement, if they so choose.
11. Re-useable cloth gift bags. I’ve seen some fairly elaborate ones over the years constructed by some rather crafty friends and relatives of mine. Draw string designs, envelope pillow case style ones with a snap or button closure, or a cool fabric item like a nice scarf or a red or green bandana gathered and secured with a slammin’ hair scrunchy would all be fun ways to go. If you use them at home for immediate family, you’ll have them again next year. Give them away as a part of a gift to a friend, and at least somebody will be using it again next year, rather than having it go up in smoke in the fireplace like many paper wrapping jobs do.
12. LED Christmas lights. Save money on your electric bill and cut down on frustration with these babies. Think I’ll be picking some up during the post holiday sales this year.
13. Locally purchased unique gifts from independent artisans. Every community has craft fairs. If you liked Sarah’s piece on going Indie for the holidays, this is a great chance to put that practice into action.
14. DIY gifts with household items. Linsey recently wrote a great piece on DIY ideas for the little ones, or you could creatively use family heirloom dishes to put a little extra wow factor in a home baked item given to a next generation bride. I know one thing I did this year that didn’t cost any money was to document heritage recipes all of the cousins and aunts had that have been handed down and post them on our family blog so that everyone could enjoy them, including college student offspring who might be away from home throughout the year. It was a way to have something out there that expressed our good wishes to extended family members we wouldn’t necessarily be purchasing gifts for. If you want something more individual, you could scan rare antique family photos and put them into a slide show that you could put on DVD’s and mail out. Not much packaging. Low on cost. Large on emotional impact and personality.
These are items I came up with while sitting down after a grocery shopping run. I’m sure there are tons more ideas out there that are absolutely stunning and super affordable. Feel free to share ideas.