Open Thread: How Will You Make Your Holidays Green?

There are many ways to make the season a little more eco-friendly. Simple things like supporting Green Gift Monday, recycling wrapping paper or using LED lights. Will you be doing anything different this year to make it a green holiday season? Leave a comment and let us know.

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  1. I am making guava jelly and jam as my presents. I had a bumper crop of guavas this year thanks to last winter’s rains, the cooler summer in Southern California, and repair of my well. I have real guavas in 5 varieties (not feijoas which are called strawberry guava.) I am also thinking of trying pomegranate jelly with this year’s crop. Next year I may try wine using the grapes from my vineyard. This year I did not have time to make wine, but I ate a lot of grapes. My wine has been hit or miss, so is not reliable for presents. Bay leaves from my tree are welcome presents to cooks I know.

  2. I am planning on buying a small tree seedling in a pot and getting my parents to use that as our Christmas tree year after year rather than buying a real tree from a tree farm.
    I’m also going to buy and/or use scrap material and sew a bunch of various sized cinchable bags that can be used as gift wrapping instead of buying paper.

    Free range organic Turkey for Thanksgiving as well.

  3. Stockings for my grown up girls will have onions, garlic, turtle beans from my local CSA for soup; gifts will be sparse or homemade – wrapped in newsprint of course(comic section preferred). Organic and local fare for our meals! REDUCE; REDUCE; LOCAL. Happy gathering.

  4. I’ll be using the newspaper comics pages for some of my wrapping paper for gifts, and I like to collect the wrapping paper and boxes from our family Christmas party to recycle, or I reuse some of the boxes. I also give some reusable shopping bags as gifts, with their favorite football team logo on them, and I’m planning to make a few of my gifts.

  5. To add to my earlier comment, I also plan to give some relatives tiny fig tree sprouts as gifts, which came up under my large fig tree, and give a nice piece of wood from a fallen tree to someone who loves woodworking. I may also make some fig jam for our Xmas party, from this year’s fig harvest, which I froze.

  6. More LED = more green for the ECO and less green for PECO (Philadelphia Electric Co)

    have great & green holidays.

  7. if someone gives me the crap presents above there will be trouble, i will be enjoying my usual Xmas with plenty of excess…

  8. I spent the summer making natural art that I am selling at Xmas art shows and gift giving. They r sculptures from nature material, found object and my homemade paper. Details about our disabled artist groups show the end of November and our website on the above url. Be sure and look up my name on it to see my natural sculptures! Enjoy!

  9. I am making canvas tote bags and reusable coffee cup cozies for my friends and family out of remnant fabric that I have been saving. I’m also going to make peanut brittle, chocolate covered pretzels and bread. No need for wrapping: All gifts will be beautifully presented in the reusable bag.

  10. For the past three years I have stopped exchanging gifts with my adult siblings (we range in age from 50 to 65), and instead make a monetary donation to an organization that has some significance to me for the past year. Each year it’s a different group, but always one that means something to me personally. Several of my siblings have adopted this philosophy as well, keeping needless junk out of our homes, and cutting down on gas spent for shopping and shipping, eliminating wrapping and shipping waste, and helping needy organizations at the same time!

  11. I am purchasing fine art prints from Art for Conservation – printed on demand, so no waste of paper and a percentage of the proceeds goes to local, regional, national and international conservation organizations!

  12. I use mostly natural plant materials for decorating and making my own wreaths. It’s fun to look for these in the summer and fall. They can be changed from a fall theme to winter to even early spring. For fire resistant greens such as pine and flowers like chrysanthemums I recycle older “silk” boughs and flowers by simply hand washing and air drying them. They are still crisp and clean. I get many, many years out of them and none of the nursery/greenhouse pesticides in my home. I also save wild sunflower seed heads for the birds when the seed is ready in the fall. I thread them when still fresh on some pretty yarn, drying them indoors. When the wild sunflowers are picked clean we can offer our goldfinches an extended treat hanging out in the river birch in the front yard where we can watch the critters easily. The scrub jays have good fun with dried sweet corn still on the cob. Again reuse ribbon or yarn and “pretty” things up for the people. We also slice up a few over the hill apples for the deer.

  13. If you go travelling to Asia for holiday. Dont buy bottled water. Buy a travelling water filter and avoid creating mountains of empty plastic bottles, some of which can survive 400 years in full sunlight. I have made a good travelling filter by fitting a ceramic filter candle into a 90mm plastic pipe and have been using it in Indonesia and India for years now. No more bottles.

  14. I’ll be making coupon books out of recycled holiday cards… Good for an errand, special help on a project, etc. I’ll also be making quilted coasters out of recycled fabric scraps. The gifts of time and handiwork are good for the environment and good for the soul.

  15. My nephews and I will be decorating outdoor evergreen trees with lights, ornaments, and treats for the wild birds.

  16. I like to purchase consumable gifts. Gifts that don’t have a lot of packaging and that people can use. Function over form.

  17. I will be making christmas wreaths out of pine trees that the county has cut down.

  18. A few years a ago I saw in the recycling bin an old road atlas that I rescued and now use it for wrapping paper. This year I made soap for family and friends. I have an aunt who makes ornaments and decorations with thrift store jewelry and felt.

  19. All of the kids in our extended family loved the old (outdated) nautical charts we used for wrapping paper. Found ’em in the library’s recycling bin and just couldn’t let them go to waste. We remember that the best gift came in BoraBora, but no one remembers what it was! Haha!
    Now we just use the comics for the kids and towels for the adults (because no one ever gets themselves new towels, right?). But we always check for “cool” potential gift wrap in the recycling bins.

  20. Make a donation to a charity in the name of the gift recipient. Make homemade food gifts..

  21. I will be purchasing tickets to support a local event center, that brings much needed revenue to town. An evening out while supporting the local economy. Win-win.

  22. Once again I will be cutting a “Charlie Brown” tree from an over-stocked stand that needs thinning to reduce fire hazard and increase the vigor of the remaining trees. I find wild trees to have a more open branching pattern than cultured trees that have been sheared resulting in foliage so dense that it is hard to hang and see ornaments. Twisted and distorted trunks may be harder to put in a stand, but add character. I also wrap gifts in old colored comics from the Sunday newspaper, but my wife always comments that it’s too tacky.

  23. Rather than focusing on gifts, we get more joy out of rituals throughout the season: Gathering with friends. Baking cookies. Singing along with all the silly carols (my sister and I especially enjoy riffing on the really awful Christmas songs). Hosting “ugly sweater” parties. Doing the Audubon Society Christmas Bird Count. Getting outdoors for a chilly moonlight walk/sledding/ice skating session, and then returning to the house for a hot beverage. So many options.

    For both ethical and environmental reasons, I would like to either make my own gifts or purchase from artisans and companies that I know and trust. Making these choices will allow me to know exactly what kind of materials went into the product, and how it was produced. Some people will appreciate handmade gifts more than others (especially people who are crafty themselves), and for those people I will be knitting and sewing some special gifts. But for others, I will be making some decadent edibles (who could say no to cookies and truffles?) and giving “experience” gifts, like a facial at their local spa or a cooking class they’ve been talking about. And for a special few, a donation to a favorite charity.

    It’s not necessarily less expensive or less effort to have a green holiday, but I have found that less excess really does leave room for more joy, more peace and relaxation – and more fun!

  24. I inherited a ton of cloth material. My mother in-law was a semstress, I am using the beautifuly colored material to wrap presents in this year instead of using paper. I have used newspaper in the past and decorated it, but this year I’m going full force green on the wraping. Not only is it pretty it can be re-used every year and it helps promote living green by giving someone else the oportunity to use the materials next year, or for a birthday. I’l probably put iron on lace or something around the edges to give it a better look.

  25. One tradition that we started several years ago is to dehydrate various fruits like apples, oranges, and pears in our oven. We hang them on our tree with raffia along with popcorn and cranberries. After Christmas we hang all of it on the trees outside for the birds. The kids love it and the house smells so good!

  26. This year my boys are old enough to make some cool Christmas tree ornaments. We painted clay pots that we’ve used before to plant seedlings and turned them upside down to look like bells. We also collected all of my old buttons and glued them on Popsicle sticks in the shape of a snowflake. And today my husband and boys are going through the toys they’ve collected this year and will donate at least half to Goodwill. It feels good to be green!

  27. I have been downsizing so I have been sharing gently used furniture with those in need in our community. We also did some family community service. I am doing a Charity Shoe drive and collecting new and gently used shoes. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle this Holiday Season.

  28. By unplugging cell phone and laptop chargers when you’re not using them, you save tons of energy. Imagine if all your friends, co-workers or classmates did that. Theoretically, we could save enough energy to shut down multiple power plants. That is one way I’m increasing my carbon footprint.

  29. I make my own homemade gifts for my children from natural fibers, wool and wood from our farm.

    My blog is . You can find many beautiful things I have made for my children.

  30. Kansas City Wildlands has an annual day to remove invasive red cedars at various parks and wildlnds to use as Christmas trees. A small donation is requested, $10 or $15. I’ve done this the last four years. They smell great!

  31. One of the Green Holiday efforts I participate in a collective effort that encourages residents of 22 Municipalities to use responsibly purchased or acquired Live holiday decorations – which can then be re-purposed in several outstanding Green initiatives.

    The Essex County Park System (NJ), in partnership with over 20 park and reservation non-profit Conservancies, and a growing number of Municipal Public Works Departments, will collect – transport – and plant all Live trees & shrubs throughout our Historic Olmsted Park System after the holidays. Several intrepid volunteers even collect from 5 story ‘walk-ups’ and other tricky locations!

    This not only serves as an economic boon to Conservancies dedicated to volunteer restoration and preservation of dwindling public Green Spaces – but Community Taxpayers also benefit by tremendous savings on post-holiday landfill and carting fees.

    All of the cut ‘Live’ greenery that is discarded after December is also collected by these same organizations for distribution throughout our entire Park System as Mulch, Garden Bed Cover, Stormwater Buffers, Wildlife Habitat Reinforcement, Invasive Plant Deterrent, etc.

    Both of these Green Holiday initiatives have become an annual New Year’s Resolution activity that is fun and rewarding for all participants.

  32. A gift to to a someone’s favourite charity in their name is a great idea, and the charities often will send a card to this person saying this donation has been made in their names.

    Also, Ian McAllister is a wonderful photrapher of the Great Bear Rainforest in British Columbia, Canada. Photos purchased help run his conservation programs. Please see: (Gallery)

  33. I have a ginormous rosemary which is not hardy in our region, so she comes indoors for the winter. She is decorated for Yule with little owls made out of bark, and some glass bird ornaments. She is beautiful, edible, and smells like pine.

  34. Bags and coffee cup sleeves!. You people are either unimaginative or stingy! Kudos to the ones giving homegrown fruit. Fruit is a great gift. An apple a day keeps the bills at bay. I’m giving only natural gifts (whether I made them myself, or bought them at the Mall). Discount stores have amazing things for cheap, that people don’t think about buying (don’t just go there looking for jeans). The only shopping I’ve done so far is buying a sandstone candle holder for my aunt (even nicer to the environment than leds). I will be getting a wool throw for my Mother and a Hickory longbow for my nephew from the Renaissance Faire. There’s more to get, but there are so many choices. Nature isn’t dead, and reusable coffee holders won’t make it any better!


  36. I’ll be making gifts for my family and friends out of organically grown, recycled, and upcycled fabrics.

    I’ll also be checking out the earth friendly handmade goods made by local artisans and my fellow Etsians.

  37. I’m making pretty, decorated magnets out of bottle caps. It’s a recycled gift and it includes my loving attention – albeit questionable skill :}
    Also, I love a wrapped box with pretty ribbon…and I’m GOOD at it! I owned a fancy schmancy retail boutique. But I’ve gone over to gift bags and I still use gorgeous bows. I keep bags given to me to re-use and I will even shamelessly ask “Are you gonna toss that?” and will re-claim them if my recipients are crumpling up my re-useable ribbons and bags 🙂
    Thank you TNC! Gina

  38. I will be xmas shopping using my reusable shopping bags to carry the goods. We put up new LED lights.I make xmas tags, out of last years xmas cards, that people sent me.I will be sending xmas wishes through facebook this year and not sending cards. Every year people laugh at me, but I save all the bows, ribbons, tissue paper and wrapping paper that is not tore up.What is tore up will be recycled.I try to use gift bags as much as possible and reuse them every year.Some of my paper gift bags are over 10 years old.Yarn makes nice ribbon to decorate with.Money is put into savings accounts for the wee ones because they have enough plastic crap from china.I have my family over for a cookie exchange, then we make ornaments out of the pine cones collected from my yard,dehydrate oranges and apples to hang and string cranberries with popcorn for the birds.We also recycle all cardboard, newspapers and junk mail we receive, besides the regular recycling.We all need to do are part, any little thing helps.

  39. I like having a living tree and using popcorn for decorations. I plan to give rebuilt lap tops to the kids. We don’t give a whole LOT of things and I think that is good… we do hang out and enjoy each other, and yes, eat and yes, watch movies and cook. This saves Gas I gather.

  40. For gifts I made scented rice bags using local/organic tea’s for the herbs. They can be placed in the freezer for headaches or heated for muscle aches. I’ve no need for painkillers… so far.

  41. celebrating hannukah…doing my abstract lawn menorah again (and lighting candles) each night.
    LEDs on my cactus and succulents out front (we r in AZ) – only left on for two hrs or so- batteries.
    so tired in this economy that people are paying to the local ELEC Company…with all their lights. and all night, too!
    we should be good conservationists for the next gen~

  42. and making biscotti/fudge for presents…along with body shop goods- community trade, no animal testing…

  43. Thankfully at least some of the adult extended family doesn’t expect gift exchange anymore, so that helps by limiting any material gifts to children only. We chose a real Christmas tree from a local grower who is always replanting young trees. I am impressed by those growing and buying organic Christmas trees this year, though none were close enough for us to use at home. Found “decor” at a thrift store instead of buying new stuff. Also try to keep packaging to a minimum.

  44. I moved my home office upstairs this winter (along with the pets). During the cold winter months, I put the thermostat on 60 downstairs and 68 upstairs. Of course, the upstairs is easier to keep warm. I keep all blinds and curtains closed on the north side of the house and blinds and curtains open on the sunny south side of the house!

    I use World Wildlife Federation holiday cards and wrapping paper. I gave children a subscription to WWF Wild Baby Animal magazine this Christmas.

    Also, I have been vigilant about making my compost pile!

  45. Gifts are few and homemade, except for the kitties who get new eco friendly toys.

    Outside birds get suet and seed, squirrels get corn and nuts.

    No lights in the tree at all.

  46. Two words: Live tree! Even if you don’t have room to plant one, there are many programs that will take them and plant them in parks for you. I love seeing our old trees, we can say “remember, christmas 1998?” as we look at the various tree.

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