Dec 3, 2007

Holiday Ideas

Like everybody else, I'm pondering how to share my love with my friends and family this month. Every year I try something different, because none of us wants to be the person who gives the same scented candle every year. I've given used objects, donated in the name of someone, given gratis dog walks or house sitting. I gave my dad a national parks pass once. Mom loves antique trinkets. Blake lets me pay some random bill or something. Thinking that my sister and her husband would adopt a dog in 2007, I gave them a care package for the new addition that still hasn't come. So now what!? It's 2007 and I'm thinking.
I became involved with the Compact in late 2005, just before the challenge initiated, when I gave John and Rob a day of veganism as part of my Cap'n'Trade Christmas project. I gave friends, family, and clients a note about this project, and donated some environmental service. Basically I was asking for folks to give me a gift of sustainability by shrinking their footprints in easy ways. My dad took all of the weight out of the trunk of his car. In doing this, I could borrow a car once in a while without a net gain in emissions. Blake reduced his shower time by 2 minutes per day. So when I feel like taking a longer dip, I know that there's no excess water consumption. I gave folks a list of ideas to choose from. For a lot of clients, from whom I didn't expect a trade, I just agreed to pick up 5 extra piles of poop in their local park. As unwieldy as this project was, it offered a fun way to talk to people about sustainability and the over-consumption associated with Christmas.

Over the next couple of weeks I'm going to write about a few new ideas that I have and some that other folks have sent along. Feel free to share your creative gift solutions too.


Anonymous said...

The gift of food is never shunned~ ^_^ especially when it's home-made goodies like fudge, truffles, or cookies!

Anonymous said...

I don't know if you've heard of the Seva Foundation ( but they are a wonderful Berkeley based organization that has an alternative giving catalog called Gifts of Service. Check it out on their website!

Anonymous said...

I think your past choices have been very creative! For our family, we have started to give gift certificates covering a couple of nights at "green" inns in places where we know family members plan on traveling. Personal service gifts really weren't a practical option given that we are in different states, but it satisfied the desire to not give "stuff". Plus we get to help support an alternative to corporate biz.

I really enjoy hearing about your project and appreciate that you have continued to blog.

Leanne Bryan said...

Some of these idea's are awesome.

My mom recently told me about Giving Tree, which is a company that sells debit gift cards. The really neat catch is that they require all of the gift card recipients to donate 10% of the money on the card to nonprofit organization.

Apparently, they have something like 1.5 million nonprofits that the recipient can choose from. Anyways, if you're interested, you can learn more about it at the
Giving Tree

emmer said...

in the past, my dh and i have purchased live xmas trees, used them, then kept them on the patio until the next year. usually we got 3 years of use before they got too big to move around. then, we called the city we lived in and made a donation of the healthy tree to be planted in a city park. a crew came, picked up the tree, returned with the pot and told us where they had planted the tree. we visited "our" trees each summer, pruned and fertilized them and had a picnic under the branches. fun, easy, and reduce, reuse, recycle.

hervor the howler said...

i made all my gifts this year. Not perfectly no impact of course but for those close to me they were fun and slightly frivolous and will last longer than just the day.

For two friends who have had hard times I made 'emergency packs' using recycled items. The packs were made up of little packages which are to be opened on 'tough days'. They contained random things ranging from a piece of paper telling them that i loved them or something wonderful about themselves to an organic fair trade chocolate or something useful that would also make them laugh.

i made a fake business card up on my computer for a friend with a sense of humour about his control freakiness. This idea has evolved into a giant game for everyone in this group of friends by creating various trump cards (that the gift recipient doesn't know about yet), and i know that it won't end there. this will test everyone's creativity and continue to evolve all year long.

I started savings accounts for the young children in the family (who's parents aren't financially sorted) that i will continue to add to so that they will always have an emergency fund and maybe even a reasonable sum of money to start their adult life with.

For those not as close, I made fudge and candy.

Not only has this been my most frugal and ecologically responsible christmas, it was also my most fun to prepare for!

Enjoy the holidays!