Top 5 Ways to Green Your Holiday Shopping

Oh, right, I have a blog.

Hope I’m not too late on this one. If you’re like me, you still haven’t done much of your holiday shopping. What? There are still 2 weeks until Christmas, and Hanukkah doesn’t start until, like, tonight.

So, who isn’t tempted around the holidays, with all the great sales and so many people to impress, to buy, buy, buy? I know I’m susceptible. I adore buying gifts for people. It’s one of my favorite feelings to find the perfect gift for someone, something they mentioned off-hand once months ago, and had no idea you remembered.

That being said, I strongly believe there is just way too much stuff in this world. Finding the perfect gift is great, but buying just for the sake of giving something? Not so much. Here are my five best tips for making your holiday gift-giving a little greener, both in terms of the environment, and that extra cash you’ll still have in your wallet.

1. Buy Time
I love to give the gift of time spent together. This is one of my favorite gifts to give children, especially, rather than a plastic toy they’ll just outgrow and cast away. My sister and I like to do this for my little brother, who’s 7 – we’ve taken him on a day-trip to the Monterrey Bay Aquarium, and owe him a trip to the Academy of Sciences. He might not like it as much in the moment as another set of Star Wars Legos, but we like to think he’ll remember how his cool older sisters took him places when he was a kid. Beyond kids, this is a great gift for anyone in your life – a concert, a cooking class, even a meal out together at a place they’ve been wanting to try. And it won’t clutter their house or come wrapped in plastic.

Note: If you are forced to gift-give to someone you, ahem, are not the biggest fan of, it is totally acceptable to give them a gift of something to do that you don’t have to participate in!

2. Make – or Buy – Something Homemade
Homemade gifts are all the rage, especially in this economy, and for good reason. I like homemade foodie treats, like hot fudge (this recipe is super delicious), jams and infused alcohols. If I could sew or knit, I’d be all about those kind of hand-crafted gifts, but alas, my high school offered only Foods class, and not Home Ec.

If, like me, you’re not so crafty, turn to Etsy or Foodzie for something adorable or delicious (or both!). Both sites have Buy Local options, which I’ve linked to. Foodie gifts from your local farmers market are another great option. Give jams, olive oils, or whatever your area is known for. If you’re traveling to see your family anyway, bring them a special treat made in your hometown.

3. Buy Used or Secondhand New
Who says a gift has to be brand new? I love scouring Craigslist for gift ideas. Chances are someone has whatever you need, used it once, and decided they didn’t need it. You’ll save money and reduce your impact – what’s not to love about that? Have a friend or family member you just can’t imagine giving a previously-been-owned gift? Craigslist and eBay are full of items I like to call “secondhand new,” those that someone bought, never used, and never got around to returning.

4. Buy One Less
One of my favorite rules for holiday gift giving is to buy “one less.” For example, if you have the idea for 3 perfect gifts for someone, and you’re only able to get 2 of them, they won’t know. All they’ll realize is that they got two fantastic gifts from you, and they’ll never know about that just absolutely perfect gift you had to get them but couldn’t track down in time. This has helped take the pressure off me when I’m looking for “just one more” perfect gift.

5. Ask What They Want
It’s not very romantic or mysterious, but asking what someone wants is a great way to reduce. This is admittedly hard for me, because I do love the surprise-and-delight factor. But so many times what I think is the perfect gift for someone might not be everything they ever dreamed of and more. Asking what someone wants will make the recipient happy, and you won’t have wasted your money on something they’ll never use anyway.


That about wraps it up, and speaking of wrapping? Remember that while colorful holiday wrapping paper may be cute, it’s not so adorable when you think about it being shipped overseas to be recycled or meeting its untimely death in a landfill. Try newspapers, scraps of cloth, and reusing old gift bags this season!

Are you planning to use any of these tips to “green” your holiday season? What are your best green holiday tips?



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5 responses to “Top 5 Ways to Green Your Holiday Shopping

  1. thedallasceliac

    I’m planning on giving homemade ornaments as stocking stuffers this year. I hope that next year I’ll get my butt in gear ahead of time and make fudge or perhaps that fudge sauce you posted to give as gifts. Homemade gifts are so meaningful. 🙂

  2. What a great post! Unconsciously I have already followed your suggestions. I have knit each family member something special this year and supplementing with homemade food gifts. Plus the bounteous swag from this year is filling in the gaps. Ho Ho Ho!!!

  3. great post!!! good to see you back on the blog!!
    this xmas my family and i aren’t buying any presents-we’re just spending time together, and i promised to make raw treats! And i couldn’t be happier!
    another suggestion is to buy locally! support your local artists! stimulate your local economy by buying things at locally owned stores!

    happy hanukkah!

  4. Kara M.

    Love this post and I totally agree, there is way too much stuff in this world! I would add get something functional, that your loved one will actually use. I’m getting my beau some new cycling shoes. I know those bad boys will get some use out of them, plus I know they’re something he really wants 😉

  5. janeterin

    Thanks, everyone! Kara that’s a great idea – get people what they actually need! It might not be romantic, but it’s what they want and not wasteful.

    Happy Holidays, all!

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