Making your holiday a little greener often sounds like you have to spend more money on some fancy organic this or energy-saving that and a whole lot more work, but if you really want to make this holiday season a little lighter on the planet you end up saving more, enjoying more, and spending more time with your loved ones. It may take a little more work, maybe a little more creativity, but it can be fun and something the whole family can share in together. Isn’t that what this season is all about anyway?
So this year let’s swap some traditions modern society has concocted for us and go for some peace on earth and goodwill toward all people…
photo credit: Kenneth McFarland on flickr
1. The Gift Buying. Can we just agree that the Black Friday madness is ridiculous? Beyond that, the mindless consumerism of this time of year is hard to ignore, but it can be done! There is no reason to buy someone a gift just because you think you should. I save almost all of my gift-giving for this time of year. I spend the year thinking about the people that I love, what they might love, and what I can do to get them some little something as a token of my affection. No pressure, no stress.
Making it a little greener to me means buying handmade and/or local. Supporting the local community, supporting people by buying products made fairly, and supporting quality over quantity. It can be organic. It can be expensive. But it doesn’t have to be. I would much rather spend my money with a local artisan on one fabulous, wonderful thing that I know will be loved, than spend money, time, and energy to fight someone over the latest trendy must-have so I can buy more. So shop, but think. Plus, truthfully, the sales do continue throughout December.
Making it a little greener to me means perhaps not buying any thing at all. One of the best gifts can be one made with your own two hands. Don’t tell me you can’t, because anybody can. Be a little creative, or let the internet do it for you. ;) Or maybe an experience that you and your (insert loved one here) can share together. Take your sister to the spa. Take your mom to a book reading. Take your dad to a game. Plan a nice dinner for your spouse. Show your child or grandchild something new (a children’s play, the art museum, a train ride, a cuppa or even high tea, the botanical gardens, or anything else that your city might have to offer). Make a donation. Where can your imagination take your gift-giving this year?
2. The Wrapping. Let’s face it, gifts are often more fun when they are wrapped, but there are so many ways to go with wrapping that make it easier on the wallet and easier on the environment. Recycled (and recyclable) wrapping paper is one way to go without veering too far from tradition. Reusable gift bags, fabric gift bags, and shopping bags create less waste after the gift is open and can be used again and again. I love ones that can become part of the gift.
One of my favorite ways to wrap a gift is to utilize the kids’ artwork that they create throughout the year. Whenever they do a painting on a big piece of paper (or draw, write, or sticker), we put them up for display and then use the paper to wrap gifts. It’s personal, fun, and follows my favorite rule of green: reuse!
3. The Decorations. I love, love, love buying a tree every year. I love the experience of it. I love the smell of it. And I love decorating it. We have a whole host of ornaments dating back over half a century up to the new ones the kids got in their stockings last year (as they do every year as a reflection of their personality or interests at that time). But there are ways to make sure your tree is raised sustainably or find a living tree that can be planted after its decorative use is finished.
I love putting up a few lights. But we also try to replace old strands with LED lights to save energy, turn the lights off when not in use, and use a timer so we won’t forget. People there is no reason to have a 20′ snowman in your yard waving at passersby or any good reason to try to emulate the Griswold’s house. It does not make your house more joyous and ends up costing you more time, energy, and money than it’s worth. Want to enjoy thousands of lights? Go to your local festival of lights or take a walk around the neighborhood.
Lastly, enjoy what you have. Find a way to get what you need without any heartache. Spend this time with your families and friends and take the time to enjoy the end of 2010. It only happens once and in your child’s eye, one year is huge. Don’t miss it by worrying about things that don’t matter.
How do you plan to spend this holiday season? If you have any green holiday tips, I would love to hear them!
This post is part of Retro Housewife Goes Green’s Green Holiday Blog Carnival. Go check out all the other wonderful posts about green holidays over there!