Posted by: webbhouston | December 8, 2008

Green gifts

Last night we talked to my inlaws and we discussed Christmas gifts.

While gifts are not really that huge a deal for adults they are for children and I really try to make sure that our kids have a safe and happy christmas. To many that makes me a toy nazi. I try to make sure my kids dont have toys that use batteries, limit plastic (if we use any at all), and making sure that the toys are educational and heirloom quality if possible.

So, what do we give our kids and each other for Christmas? Eventhough my stipulations seems really long, they are not and they really make christmas go back to it’s old splendor… with homemade gifts, and natural ideas. Here is a small list of what we do…

  • Books:  We love books. In our family you cant go wrong with books as gifts. Whether it be books to read, how to books, history books, books about living and lifestyles… books are wonderful gifts. Not only are you giving the gift of education along with the book you are also giving something that can be kept forever and passed on to generations.  A similar idea is giving magazine subscriptions. While many magazines end up as trash because they are not good for more than just a look at what Jennifer Lopez was wearing to the last awards ceremony, there are a few good magazines that are great for research and reference. For example, National Geographic Magazine, Mothering Magazine, and Mother Earth News.
  • Donations to worthy causes in someone else’s name: My inlaws started this when they donated money to Heifer for Kate’s bday a while back. My brother in law donated money in leiu of a “welcome” gift for Calvin when he was born. I adopted a sea creature on Oceana in the name of my Brother in Law last year  for which they sendt me a cookie cutter and I donated money to both (his and Mine) of our Alma Mater’s . To me it is paramount to show children that these gifts are valuable and valid, also that they should be part of our life. Since the season is all about doing good and good thoughts and feelings, why not spread a little bit more of those good feelings towards worthy causes? Also next year we are going to start having Kate (and then Calvin) pick three toys that they do not play with and donating them to a charity. This helps both unclutter our home and give things to those who need it.
  • Homemade gifts: Knit a hat. Sew a quilt. Craft together a bracelet. Make a scrapbook. Not all gifts have to be purchased at a store, actually it would be better if they werent. Home made gifts have a bit of the person that is giving them and they are usually more personal and special. You are not only giving the gift of the item but the gift of the time that you spent making it. When you give a homemade item you think of the person while making the gifts and then when you receive the gift and use it you will think of the person who made it for you. My BFF Devin made me a hat as a gift for putting together her blessingway. Here it is below. I wear it all of the time and cherish it with all of my heart.
  • Hat

    Hat

  • Food: The gift of food is always appreciated. Especially when you give someone something new that they have never tried or that they cannot get themselves on a regular basis. I have had friends bring candy or breads with them to give to me because I cannot get some of the specific foods here in Houston, or even in the U.S. We always pick up a few odd things at specialty stores to take to my inlaws since they do not have a huge selection of cheeses and meats like we do because they live in a small town.  Another option is to make your own food to give. Like muffins, trail mixes, granola, energy bars, etc. Devin (mentioned above) knows that I would kill for her vegan muffins so she made them as a gift for me when I had Calvin.  I got my latest order from Tierra Farm and I will be putting together some of the food items that I got from there (organic maple galsed nuts, yogurt covered almonds, chocolate covered nuts, etc. ) in little  4 oz and 8 oz food grade metal tins that I bought to organize my spices cabinet. This gift will be something edible and something useful, as the tins can be used for many a reason.  Never underestimate how much a homemade snack will be appreciated by those who love you.  My last suggestion for the “Food” category would be a CSA membership. Freshly grown local produce is always in style for us.
  • Memberships: Either to a science museum, an art museum, a kids museum, a zoo, a health museum.. you name it. Giving the gifts of memberships is giving the gift of knowledge and experience.  These work dual purposes. They help support non profit organizations or organizations that are there for the public good, and they help give people something to do that is better than watching CSI reruns. Dont get me wrong, I love me some CSI… but my children would be better benefitted if we went to the Kids museum and learned about gravity on Saturday instead of sat around watching their mother drool over Gil Grisson.
  • Reuseable items: I gave my inlaws Kleen Kantees for their birthdays this year, another possiblity are LapTop Lunches or To-Go ware for carrying around portable food. LapTop lunches are BPA free and To-Go ware is not even plastic.  Maybe the gift of a water filter would work as well since it would be better to drink your own water if you can instead of using up so many plastic bottles that end up in land fills. Last year I gave Chicobags as stocking stuffers. Other reuseable shopping bags are out there and handy to keep around for when you do grocery shopping. We bring our own bags to the grocery store and keep some in the car for when we just need to pick something up ont he way home from work.
  • If you want to give kids toys (and who doesnt?) make sure that the toys are eco-friendly and dont contain any toxins in the glues (like in particleboard) or in the paints. Tehre are many great websites for healthy toys. Try to avoid plastic toys all together and go with options like cloth and wood with nonharmful finishes.  If the toys can be educational that is even better. Kids are lacking good educational toys nowdays and that is unfortunate. Here are some great website for toys: Fine Wooden Toys they have a great selection of puzzles and germany waldorf toys. Willow Tree Toys which has tons of creative play stuff for kids. Three Sisters Toys which is owned by a great mom that strives to make sure that all of the toys in her store are the best for kids and the safest.  Even Target and Toys R Us are carrying some great ecofriendly toys for kids.  It seems that big box stores have listened to the plight of parents demanding higher quality toys for their children. We are getting Kate a toy kitchen from Camden Rose. I chose this place above all others because the kitchens are beautiful and true heirloom quality. The people who make them are crafstmen and true artisans. I like to support handmade art whenever I can and to me this is true art. Calvin is getting a teething rainbow baby doll from Kathe Kruse which double as a teething ring as well.  They are getting a few other things as well but these are their main gifts.

Please share your ideas with me about green gifts and how to make this christmas have the smallest carbon footprint of all of our christmases yet!

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