If you’re looking for Christmas ideas that are both environmentally friendly and easy on the wallet, here’s a Scrooge’s list of tips for the holidays.
- Start by simply doing a walk through of your home, looking for anything that that has gifting possibilities. Spread what you’ve collected into a large pile, and separate into groups–gift wrap, possible gifts, etc. Then brainstorm some possible ideas by focusing on what your giftees would really like to receive this year.
- Little ones don’t know whether their gifts are new or not, so you can save a bundle. Before everyone gets caught up in their own holiday preparations, start now to invite family and friends who have young kids to participate in a toy and clothing swap. Set a date and ask each guest to bring clean, unbroken, gently-used toys, books, or clothing to swap. Nothing could be simpler.
Use Your Dishes and Glassware
- Unused glassware, coffee mugs, dishes, jars, wooden or metal bowls can be turned into two gifts. For example, if you have them, use salt and pepper shakers as place cards for guests by filling each one with Christmas pillow candies. Each guest will take one home as a small gift at the end of the evening.
- Bake or buy a dozen or so plain gingerbread cookies and use each as a decoration at each setting at the children’s table. Place a small tube of frosting beside each cookie and invite the kids to decorate theirs. This not only saves you money, but it also keeps the little ones busy while the grown-ups enjoy some Christmas eggnog.
Decorating with Evergreen Tree Branches
- If you have trees and shrubs in your garden, now’s the time to gather up what you have along with some cuttings to use as decorations. Use snips from your evergreens to freshen up a ho-hum faux wreath along with any twigs, cones, and nuts you may have gathered.
- If you’re buying a real tree (from a local grower, of course), don’t be shy about asking to take home any discarded branches left on the ground. These can be used to make your own wreaths and garlands and won’t cost a cent. Decorate with tiny toys, seashells gathered last summer, or even snippets of ribbon or torn fabric.
- If you have only small pieces of wrapping paper, try mixing different pieces on one box. Use the bigger pieces to cover as much of the box as possible and then fill in gaps with your remnants.
- If you have no boxes to spare, copy the Japanese method of furoshiki for wrapping gifts in fabric. This technique encourages the reuse of the fabric and also saves other wrapping essentials such as ribbons and tape. The only requirements are that the fabric be beautiful and that it be square. So if you have a bundle of pretty textiles in your sewing basket, you’ll be able to make gorgeous wraps in no time.
For the Foodies
- For your foodie friends, make homemade fudge—or whatever your specialty is. Fill empty jars with the fudge and wrap each in a napkin that has the recipe printed on it. If you have no time to bake or cook something up, fill containers with the dry ingredients of a favourite cookie, brownie, soup, or your famous vegetarian chilli recipe.
- Any container that does not leak will do. Empty plastic milk bags are especially sturdy and can be used after you’ve cleaned and dried them. Once the bag has been filled, close the top opening with an elastic band and then add on a pretty ribbon. Don’t forget to include the recipe.
- Remember those goofy paper chains that we all made in elementary school? Get your kids to use old magazines, unwanted catalogues, holiday cards, posters, scraps of wrapping paper. soon-to-be-obsolete calendars to create garlands to hang on the tree or around the house.
- And who can forget play dough. Your kids can create any number of original gift tags that will double as tree decorations for folks on your gift list. Use your Christmas cookie cutters to create each one and have the kids decorate them. Add the date and the recipient’s name on the back of each one.
- Now is a good time, too, to get your kids outside collecting pinecones, twigs, milkweed pods, acorns, and leaves to use for their holiday craft projects.