Your mission, if you choose to accept, is to give gifts to the earth as well as your friends and family this Christmas (or other gift-giving holiday in December).
Since my son was a baby, I’ve started our Christmas lists with “More wood, less plastic. Fewer batteries and buttons, more thinking.”
It doesn’t really work, but I keep trying.
I also usually include “green” gift ideas, the things that I pine for all year, like stainless steel lunchbox dishes, organic pajamas, and real wooden blocks (2 sets of those have been on the list for a year or two, but I keep them there and keep trying!). Many times, eco-friendly/safe/non-toxic items, however you want to label them, are more expensive than the average option.
I’m pretty cheap, so I don’t always budget for them on a regular basis but get by with what I already have. I feel okay about putting them on Christmas lists NOT because I want to take advantage of family members, but because I figure most people probably have a dollar amount that they plan to spend on certain people. I’d rather have fewer, high quality gifts than many inexpensive plastic toys or clothing.
This year as we move into a new house, I will have lost the excuse of “we don’t have any space for more toys!” that always marked my anti-materialistic tendencies. Now I have to just say, “We really don’t NEED very many toys. Maybe just this nice [fill in the blank] that will get played with all the time and last forever…”
I’m also determined to GIVE more eco-friendly gifts this year, my way of taking advantage of a time of year when I spend more money than usual to make sure that I’m conserving resources in some way.
Eco-friendly for the Unsuspecting
The holidays are the perfect time to really live the KS mission, balancing nutrition, the environment, your time and money. Frugal gifts that help others eat well and/or care for the earth are awesome finds.
Not everyone will appreciate fewer gifts and higher quality, but novelties can over well, as can gifts that are eco-friendly without being overtly so. Here are some ideas:
- Glass bakeware and storage dishes (I’ve had better luck with the lids on Pyrex, not Anchor, and I LOVE having lids for my 8×8 and 9×13 glass dishes)
- Note: The links above take you to Amazon, where I always try to use Swagbucks to purchase Christmas gifts. Have you set your search to a Swag-search so you can earn money while surfing? Also, I wanted to let folks know that when you shop on Amazon this season (or anytime) you can bless your favorite bloggers just by finding ANY link to Amazon and clicking through with it before you shop. That blogger (or charitable organization) will get a few percent of your entire order, even if you don’t order anything they linked to. I choose a different blog colleague each time I make an order.
- Microfiber cloths and a primer on how to clean with them – show folks how frugal it is to skip the window cleaners, for example, and they’re kinder to the earth while thinking they’re just being kinder to their own pocketbook. Tee hee!
- MadeOn lip balms – I ordered 20 last year because my husband’s extended family does stocking stuffers for everyone, adults and kids alike. I figured these were something everyone could use and way better than a few pieces of candy or mini Bath and Body Works hand sanitizer (ahem). Renee’s new gift options are a super easy way to send a thoughtful gift to someone else. I highly recommend Au Chocolat. Nom. (There’s a $3 off coupon for a family sized Au Chocolat tucked into Smart Sweets!)
- Fair trade coffee or tea and local raw honey
- Silicone baking mat – I still figure this is a better option if someone has aluminum or non-stick cookie sheets – but read the research and decide for yourself.
- My top 10 gift ideas from last year include 10 kitchen gadgets and 10 kitchen stocking stuffers.
Online Cooking Class for Kids
UPDATE 2015: I’m so excited to launch my new eCourse, Kids Cook Real Food, in January 2016. It’s truly going to be fantastic, and we have a printable gift certificate (plus more about the program) HERE for your Christmas tree!
Simplicity is a wonderful gift, and buying fewer things means fewer resources used and less trash generated. Consumables are almost always appreciated.
- Homemade vanilla extract (you could still start some immediately and leave a bean in the jar when you give the gift)
- Homemade lotion and body products (you’ll love Renee Harris’s new My Buttered Life: Gift Giving Edition – it comes free with the DIY kit, so you’ll have everything you need to get started in one click!)
- Homemade salad dressings
- Prayer bouquet (promise to pray a certain number of prayers for someone)
- Bottle of wine (I found cherry chocolate wine and paired it with sourdough chocolate cake last year for a whole bunch of people…heavenly! My adaptations to the recipe are in Smart Sweets.)
- Subscription to their favorite magazine or hometown newspaper (if they’d buy it themselves anyway)
- Donation to charitable organization (a few years ago our “stocking stuffers” for the extended family were just notes that we had donated to the American Heart Association in the family’s name, since the patriarch of the family died very young from a heart attack)
- Homemade playdough for little ones (also a great idea for books on CD at that post)
- Gift cards to dinner out
- A membership to a museum, zoo, garden, etc.
- A day out, a particularly special gift from a grandparent or aunt/uncle to a child. My friend’s son went to Alaska this summer as his grandfather’s birthday gift to him! (But a children’s museum for the morning plus lunch would be snazzy, too…)
- Maybe an eBook? It sure is sounding like eBooks are the wave of the future, whether on Kindle or in PDF form. Check out my eBooks here.
For the Crunchy Ones
Hopefully you all know some folks who actually appreciate natural living and will enjoy getting something that makes their quest to be easy on the earth…well, easier. Here are just a few ideas:
- NaturOli sells high quality soap nuts, which are my most economical laundry option, and they also have personal products and cute gift packages this time of year. Shop here.
- UPDATE: I’m all about being practical, and I come by it honestly – my mom gave Branch Basics all-purpose soap to my brother and his wife last Christmas. The bottles are even red and green (and blue) so tie on a ribbon and call it Christmas! Our BB bottles clean EVERYthing around here, and with 4 kids and 21 homemade meals a week, “everything” is a big job!
Note: the next three companies are my sponsors this month (Nov. 2011). In gratitude for the ad they buy, I always include a mention within a post, and this one seemed like a great fit. It doesn’t help me at all if you buy from my sponsors, although it makes me feel good if I can bring them some business. I just love browsing their shops and am pleased to be able to share quality companies with you, which are run, more importantly, by some really cool people.
- from My Little Green Shop
- The toys are amazing! It’s so nice to shop somewhere and not worry about the source or materials in the toys… When your child will be sleeping with their favorite friend, you hope it will be a non off-gassing material, unlike my daughter’s favorite plastic babies (former gifts…)
- non-slip barrettes for little girls.
- I’m always a big fan of stainless steel food storage
- from Sweetbottoms Baby:
- piggy paints non-toxic nail polish stocking stuffer
- from LPC Survival: Now you probably wouldn’t spring for a Berkey system as a Christmas gift, but the sport bottles are really affordable for someone who would appreciate the opportunity for super high quality filtered water on the go (free shipping).
I’m sure this is only the tip of the iceberg, and we’ll all get many more ideas in the comments than in the post itself (I love days like that!).
What eco-friendly (and budget friendly) gifts do you like to give?
There are a great many affiliate links in this post. It’s pretty awesome that when you shop starting with a blogger’s links, they get commission and it doesn’t cost you anything…See my full disclosure statement here.
Need Some Baby Steps?
Here at Kitchen Stewardship, we’ve always been all about the baby steps. But if you’re just starting your real food and natural living journey, sifting through all that we’ve shared here over the years can be totally overwhelming.
That’s why we took the best 10 rookie “Monday Missions” that used to post once a week and made a printable checklist so you can track your progress.
Sign up to get the checklist and weekly challenges and teaching on key topics like meal planning, homemade foods that save the budget (and don’t take too much time), what to cut out of your pantry, and more.