Eco-friendly Christmas Gifts

7 11 2010

I’m brazenly breaking my own rule about discussing Christmas before Thanksgiving. However, it’s fun and often necessary to think about the presents we’ll give to others well in advance – especially when making them. In that spirit, I give you a sampling of ideas you could use with little prior crafting or cooking experience. All are a great way to reduce the price tag and wastefulness of holiday gift giving.

  • A Storybook Life has an easy-peasy idea for ornaments or gifts that look and smell fantastic.
  • Right@Home is the source for simply elegant jar gifts. Not seen on that page are their inventive cocoa mix jars.
  • Consider gift baskets! My husband and I had a fun and impromtu date night one Christmas making a basket for extended family members with dollar-store items. There was something in it for everyone, and the creativity involved kept us entertained.
  • For many more homemade gift ideas, visit Martha Stewart’s Santa’s Workshop.

Obviously, the degree to which a handmade gift is also environmentally friendly depends both on the source and type of materials needed and the alternative gift you would have given. Some things to consider:

  • Source. Do I or someone I know already have some or all of the materials I need, or things I could substitute for them? Not consuming new materials is always the gentlest choice for the earth.
  • Type. If you must purchase materials, are there some that are made of recycled goods, and/or that can be reused or recycled when the recipient is done with them?
  • The Alternative. What would you likely have given that person instead? Would this object require more energy waste or pollution than what you will make?

Finally, if you are interested in reducing the “stuff” focus of your holiday season, check out this refreshing guide from Postconsumers.

Do you have any signature handmade holiday gifts?





Making It Yourself

1 11 2010

Let necessity be the mother of your inventions. When you have a need or want but would rather not spend, see what alternative you could make yourself. Examples:

  • Recently, I was bored with my selection of pants, so I dug out the pair I had been unhappy with and figured out (with not much formal sewing knowledge) that I could make a little alteration. Voila – favorite new pants!
  • Since all the billboards began popping up in September, I’ve been craving a pumpkin spice latte. Today I realized that there are usually internet instructions for store-bought favorites. Sure enough, I give you: DIY Pumpkin Spice Latte. It is cheaper than Starbucks, if you have the ingredients on hand and use the rest of the pumpkin for something else.
  • Finally, something I can’t wait to try, courtesy of Martha Stewart: accessories made with old jewelry and ribbons.

One caveat: these do-it-yourself projects can become addicting. That being said, do you have any good and crafty links to share?





Making Do

25 10 2010
Vintage Tupperware and Fire King

There’s a Depression-era concept if ever I heard one: making do. How often, nowadays, does someone flatly proclaim that they will “make do”? It may be an attitude ripe for revival in our culture. Take me, for instance: I tend to whine about my current financial situation, but the truth of the matter is that there are blessings in making do, such as:

  • Discovery. One of the first things one can do when faced with a money shortage is really using what one already has: reading the books on the shelves, wearing the clothes seldom worn, playing the games rarely played. It’s like shopping – in your house!
  • Creativity. The other day, inspired by French tartine sandwiches on an episode of the Barefoot Contessa, I made mock versions with ingredients I had on hand. It made me feel chic – and cheap, in a good way!
  • Contentment. While I certainly struggle with wanting things outside my reach, there are times of realization and satisfaction that I have all I really need, that I am blessed beyond a majority of the human population.
  • Good, old-fashioned smugness. Let’s admit it: sometimes there’s a guilty pleasure in knowing you cheated the system and saved some dough, or simply that you can be just as happy with a lower cost of living than other people.

Can you think of other blessings to be found in making do with what you have?








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