Are you buying something that will really better the recipients life for more than a minute? Or, are you buying something just to have a gift, like a set of body lotions and sprays that probably won’t be used? Or a pack of random things from the dollar store. You know, trinket toys with lots of plastic and no stability.
Eventually this stuff has to return to the earth. Some might be recyclable, but most won’t.
Ok, so what are the alternatives?
1. For the most important people in your life, knowing what the recipient needs is a great place to start.
2. Don’t be afraid to shop second hand. Some of the highest quality items can be found on websites like Craigslist for less money than the same lower quality product bought new. Things like bicycles, skateboards, games, furniture. You will be amazed at how much nearly new stuff you can find. Not only will you be getting a better deal, you will be recycling! And you’ll be less active in the throw-away culture of cheap stuff that ends up in the landfill way too soon.
3. People love food! Sometimes we overlook the simplest of items. Yes, food- anything from a basket full of fruit, a bottle of favorite wine, chocolate, something home-canned, a baked good or fresh squeezed juice. You can fancy it up with wrapping paper or ribbons.
4. People love handmade items. If you have a talent, take a day and use it. If you paint, make a series of small works for friends. If you make jewelry, make a few items to give away. If anyone in the family has a talent, use it. Or visit a local craft fair. But again, before buying, ask yourself whether the recipient really needs or wants the item. Don’t just buy to check things off the list.
5. Give a plant that keeps on giving! If you have a green thumb, use it. Actually, you really don’t need a green thumb to pick an attractive plant and replant it in a pretty pot. The pot can be a recycled item bought at a thrift store or even one you’ve had lying around in the yard. Distressed is in!
6. We all know the holiday season is fraught with emotions. Much of this is caused by the pressures to overspend or the guilt about not spending enough, or the sense that one is not getting enough (often felt by children). Do we really want to continue to participate in this way? Perhaps we can make the season more about being with our families and celebrating the less monetary rituals of our cultures.