iStock 000007144619Small Add a Little Thought to Your Holiday Gift List

It’s almost time to start your holiday gift list.  Whether you use our planning tool complete with names, gift ideas, decorations, and budget – or you use the back of the grocery receipt… you’ll soon be filling it along with your hopes and dreams of getting all your shopping finished by December 15th.

Having a list to keep us organized is smart. It certainly works for Old Saint Nick. But this year, how about we try not to get too caught up in adding names and crossing them off?  

Most of us wouldn’t feel very special thinking there’s a crumpled post-it note with our name crossed off, lying in a shopping cart somewhere.  We want to know some thought went into a gift that was given to us.

The gift we give should tell the recipient, “You’re special.”

The real reason we give is to show someone we care about them.  In his brilliant book Linchpin, Seth Godin says, “Real gifts don’t demand reciprocation, and the best kinds of gifts are gifts of art.”  The “art” he’s referring to is anything we’ve used our own unique talents to create or share.

This doesn’t mean you have to bake a loaf of banana chocolate chip bread or knit a scarf for every person on your Christmas list.  Please – as busy moms… we’re all about keeping things simple.

Instead, thoughtful giving reminds you to think about…

  • What makes this person smile
  • What makes her eyes light up?
  • The last time I was with him, did he mention something he’d love to have? 

(A great tip for your smart phone – next time type it and email it to yourself.) 

The message you send can be as unique as they are.  It can be encouragement, “I believe in you.”  Or simply and powerfully said, “I was paying attention.”

I’m sharing this post today as part of a series on green gifts I’ll be writing in honor of Change The World Wednesday‘s focus on eco-friendly gift giving.  If you can’t wait for more Sustainable Holidays ideas, be sure to check out our complete guide to Eco Friendly Gift Wrapping and these posts:

Greening Your Holiday Greeting Cards

Your Holiday Planning Budget for Gifts and Celebrations

Be “In the Know” About the Gifts You Give This Holiday

A Modern Homesteading Christmas

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Green Child Holiday Gift Guide 2013 Holiday 2013 Green Gift GuideYou’ve heard the phrase “voting with your dollars.”  During the holidays, many of us spend more… which means we cast more votes.

That’s one of the many reasons we love putting together our holiday gift guides!

And we’re even more excited to announce that we’re now partnering with Green Child Magazine to bring you the best in green gifts and products all year long for your family.  Our 3rd Annual Holiday Gift Guide features inspired gift ideas for everyone on your list — even the furry members. No matter the person or the price point, you’ll find something to make the season bright.

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Slide1 How To Create A Gift Wrapping Station

This week’s post in our 10 Weeks to a Green Christmas series is about setting up a Gift Giving / Wrapping Station.

The simplest way to wrap your gifts in an eco-friendly way is to use what you have.

Using what you have means if you still have paper gift bags left over from last year, by all means, use them!  Don’t think of paper as your enemy – it’s really one of the best options for wrapping bigger gifts.  Being more eco-conscious means we try to reduce the amount of new paper we use.  Hey, even Martha Stewart says it’s ok to iron and reuse last year’s wrapping paper!

gift wrap station embellishments How To Create A Gift Wrapping Station

In order to use what you have, you’ll need a system for organizing things like:

  • gift bags (fabric or paper ones you’ve received)
  • decorative boxes
  • large pieces of recycled paper
  • kids’ artwork to use for wrapping
  • odds and ends that make fun, festive embellishments

This is where a Gift Wrapping Station comes in super handy during the holidays.  And if you have enough hiding spots in yours, you might even be able to keep surprise gifts hidden from the people that live with you!

You may recall from my post about the inspiration from Pinterest, that I set up a gift giving station / craft area in an area of our basement we weren’t using. As you can see, this space multi-functional.  So when the holidays are over, it’s more of a place I keep photos to be framed, kids’ work that needs to be filed or put in their binders, and my attempts at sewing.

But you’ll also notice, I repurposed several items, instead of going out and buying new organizing tools.


gift wrap station fabric bags How To Create A Gift Wrapping Station

This is one of the rails from our sons’ crib. Even though you can store fabric gift bags neatly inside one another, I was always making a mess rifling through them trying to find the right size.  These rails help arrange them by size, so I can quickly grab what I need.

gift wrap center tools 300x258 How To Create A Gift Wrapping Station

I also used little storage items I found in the basement to hold spools of thread, markers, and pretty images from last year’s holiday cards that I’ll use this year for gift tags.  Check out this Pinterest board I created on gift giving stations for some fun ways to dress up old vegetable cans to hold gift or craft items.

How to Set Up Your Own Eco Friendly Gift Wrap Center

Again, try to use what you have.  For my station, I found just about everything from other rooms in the house or out of storage in the basement. No matter if it’s a closet or a storage bin under a bed, find a system that helps you gather all your gift-giving supplies in one place.

  • Set up your station near where you usually wrap gifts
  • Have a flat surface for wrapping nearby
  • Keep bins or boxes to store recycled wrapping papers
  • Set up smaller tubs for natural twine, recycled tags, bows, and other embellishments
  • Add scissors, tape, and a marker or pen
  • If space allows, store the gifts you plan to give in the same place

This post is part of our 10 Weeks to a Green Christmas Series.  Be sure to sign up for our newsletter so you don’t miss any of these steps for a meaningful, sustainable, and stress-free holiday.  Subscribers get advance notice on giveaways, special deals to our readers, and access to our gift giving guides for free.

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I had a Twitter conversation with @GreenTXMom about a Food Network show featuring something called “Turducken.”   Lara said it’s not uncommon where she lives to hear about someone roasting three birds – turkey, duck, and chicken – all stuffed inside each other for their Thanksgiving meal.

After we got over the horror of three animals giving their lives for one meal, we slap-happily agreed that any food with the word “turd” in it doesn’t belong on our Thanksgiving table.

medium 304316401 How To Celebrate a Green Thanksgiving

Joking aside, I’m not a vegetarian, but I’m already planning several meatless meals for our family in the next few weeks because Thanksgiving has such a huge impact on the planet. In addition to having the dubious distinction of being the holiday to produce the most waste throughout the entire year, it also is implicated in travel eco-ills.

Here are a few tips to help you celebrate a greener Thanksgiving this year.

Serve an eco-friendly Thanksgiving meal

Think further than just the turkey and try to reduce excess and waste for the whole meal.

  • Serve with real dishes and glasses. Disposables are expensive and after being used once represent an incredible waste of resources. If you worry about needing help with clean up, don’t share the best family gossip at the dining table, save it for the kitchen
  • Choose a vegetarian menu! Sure, this may run counter to your traditions, but it can be a great way to break out and try something new. Meat can really add to your carbon footprint, and many turkeys live inhumane lives, so choosing to go meat-free is great for them, too.
  • Go organic and fair trade. Look for things like coffee, tea, fruits, baking ingredients, chocolate, and even your wine to come with certified organic and fair trade labels. These foods are better for the planet and better for the communities producing them, too.
  • Choose heritage, free range. If you can’t live without the turkey, at least go for one that’s had a humane, healthy life. Look for a heritage turkey that’s been pasture-raised and free-range. Your local farmer is the best bet for finding such birds.
  • Compost. Got leftovers and table scrapings? Compost food waste of all varieties to further reduce the carbon footprint of your meal. If you don’t have a compost of your own, either start one or donate your food waste to a local farmer who can turn it into black gold.

Green travel to and from your Thanksgiving event

More than 65 million people travel for Thanksgiving celebrations in the US, and that adds up to a lot of greenhouse gas emissions pushed into the atmosphere. You can reduce your Thanksgiving travel carbon footprint by taking some steps to make your holiday even more climate-friendly.

  • Choose a central location. If you’re bringing family together from far and wide, try to choose a location that’s central to everyone so that you minimize travel as much as possible. This is easiest if everyone is within driving distance but can also be done over long distances.
  • Go public transit. If you live within the same city as the celebrations, go by public transit rather than driving. Not only can this be safer (winter driving conditions and drunk drivers are both hazards), it is cheaper, too. Plus, if you’ve had a bit too much to drink, you’ll protect others, too.
  • Choose rail over air. Traveling by motor coach or rail, especially if the distance is short, is usually less expensive and much better for the planet. Plus it can be a fun experience, too!
  • Carbon neutralize. Regardless of your travel choice, you may want to consider buying carbon offsets for the travel you’ve done. Choose ones that are certified by a third-party, such as those through Carbonfund, 3Degrees, or TerraPass.

Celebrate an Alternative Thanksgiving

If it all seems too much, you might want to follow some excellent advice over at Seventh Generation’s blog and consider one of these alternatives to Thanksgiving:

  •     Donate food to local organizations that feed the hungry.
  •     Help cook and serve a meal at a homeless shelter or soup kitchen.
  •     Invite to dinner someone who otherwise would be alone that day.
  •     Volunteer at an animal shelter.
  •     Remember your elderly neighbors, and visit a senior center or nursing home.
  •     Go hiking. If the weather is right where you live, pack some turkey (or Tofurky) sandwiches and head into the great outdoors to give thanks for nature’s life-sustaining wonder.
  •     Plant some trees. The dormant, leafless state they assume in autumn marks an ideal time for successful transplanting.
  •     Spend the day assembling care packages for U.S. troops overseas. One organization facilitating such care packages is Any Soldier, but the internet abounds with organizations that can help.

Do you have Thanksgiving traditions that give back, or are eco-friendly?  Tell us about it in the comments!


 photo credit: Jennifer13 via photopin cc

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Wooed By Wood Sunglasses: A Simply Stunning Gift Idea

It’s mid-March and the winter months will soon be a distant memory. Many of us will be turning to thoughts of vacations… and if you’re anything like us, a vital part of our vacation attire is a pair of shades. But why opt for any shades when you can have a totally unique pair made [...]

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Choose Ethical, Sustainable Gifts this Mother’s Day

It doesn’t take much to turn Mother’s Day into a celebration that honors both your mom and Mother Nature.   We share plenty of options here on experience gifts or zero-waste ideas.  But today we’re delighted to share ideas that focus on FOOD for a truly sustainable holiday. Our friends Danielle and Ellen from the [...]

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Green Wedding Gifts That Don’t Create Clutter

 This question showed up in my Facebook feed yesterday: “What are your most used and least used items from your wedding registry?  I don’t want something in my kitchen or house that doesn’t belong there.” My friend’s younger sister is getting married and asked this question. It’s interesting to read the answers and see some [...]

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Green Your Easter (and save some too!)

Easter’s on its way!  So we’ve pulled together a quick roundup of eco-friendly Easter resources for you. Over at Green Child Magazine you’ll find a simple how to on coloring Easter eggs naturally.  Or if you don’t have time to cook up your own earth friendly dyes, you can use a kit like WeeCanToo. As for thinking [...]

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Portable, Biodegradable Mini Water Filters from GAC

In need of a fresh, new gift idea for a special someone in your life? Why not try tap water’s new best friend… the drop-in filters from GAC (Granular Activated Carbon) GAC filters are uniquely designed to simply drop into tap water in order to quickly and effectively remove chlorine, taste and odor.  Use it [...]

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Save up to 44% at Abe’s Market!

In honor of our 44 presidents, Abe’s Market is holding a sale! Abe’s Market has long been our favorite one-stop-shop for healthy foods and products.  If you haven’t given them a try yet, now is the perfect time.  Whether you live gluten-free, vegan, paleo… or just trying to use non-toxic or sustainable products, Abe’s has [...]

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