It is officially the holiday season and with it comes the task of finding gifts for the special people in your life. The gift giving season does not mean that you have to abandon your efforts of being more environmentally conscientious.

Here are some tips to help you be generously green this season.

Buy Reused Items for Gifts

This is the perfect time to repurpose gently used items into gifts. Towels can be turned into hair turbans, sheets can be used as blanket backing, and ceramic bowls can be turned into a fairy garden. If you are a crafter thrift stores are a great places to checkout and stock up on supplies.

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In one of our previous blogs we shared a list of thrift stores where you can donate and buy used items.

Another source of gently used items are garage sales and the swap meet. Here you may be able to find affordable gifts with a nostalgic, intrinsic value that will reflect your knowledge of the recipientʻs interests.

Donate Items You Are Ready to Cycle Out

You can make the holiday season one that is about giving as well as getting. Go through the house and gather household items and clothes you no longer need/fit and donate them to your favorite thrift store, homeless shelter or church/school for their upcoming white elephant/bazar.

The holidays are also the perfect time to help children discover the joy of “helping those less fortunate.” Have your keiki go through their toys and clothes they have outgrown. Take them to the thrift store or a shelter that supports underprivileged children.

Reduce the Number of Gifts You Give

If you have a big family you most likely have a big gift list. To help you save money and reduce the amount of gift wrapping supplies used (which reduces the amount of waste created), start a family Secret Santa.

Put everyoneʻs name into a bag/jar/can & have each family member pick a person does not live in the same household. In addition to becoming a family tradition, Secret Santa makes it possible for everyone to buy & give one big present, while other family members get smaller gifts, which can be “green” as well.

Re-gift items that you have never used. Pair items up with family members who would enjoy & get use out of your unopened gifts.

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See if there are items around the house that you can “up-cylce” into gifts. Glass jars can be turned into vases. Metal jar lids can be painted and turned into magnetic picture frames. Bowls, mugs, glasses can be turned into succulent gardens.

You can start a family tradition of making ornaments with the keiki. There are a variety of household items that can be repurposed into ornaments. In addition to becoming a family tradition, making ornaments allow children to create family memories and stockpile special ornaments that they can put on their tree when they become adults.

Pinterest is a great resource for ideas on how you up-cycle, re-purpose or reuse items to create purposeful, usable items, including ornaments.

Give Gifts that Reduce Use of Resources

Here are three ways you can give environmentally conscientious gifts:

  • buy gifts made locally
  • buy gifts made from recycled materials
  • avoid giving gifts that require batteries

Donʻt Purchase a Gift

In lieu of purchasing a gift you can give:

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  • a homemade gift;
  • give a promise of future service (e.g. taking over chores for a week, a babysitting session etc.)
  • bake goods or making a meal in the future;
  • give an outing or experience (movie tickets, spa treatment, horseback riding lessons, museum membership etc.)

You can also make a  donation to a non-profit that the recipient supports or cares about, such as nature preservation, wildlife protection, social justice issues, human rights etc. There are “watchdog” organizations that rate how effective non-profits are using their donations. See what Charity Navigator, BBB Wise Giving Alliance and Charity Watch has to say about the non-profit you are thinking about donating to.

By following one or more of these tips, green will not only be one of the colors of the season, it can be HOW you celebrate the season as well.

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