When my family is eagerly gathered for gift-openings, we set up a special box or gift-bag nearby to collect the bows and ribbons. I store and reuse dust-free and non-crushed bows for years, and I’m here to share with you that it’s easy to do! By setting aside space in the holiday season décor-bin for a shoebox or two of bows and neatly folded ribbons, I am reducing waste in many ways. Not only do I eliminate the need to purchase new bows, but I’m keeping these non-recyclable materials out of landfills.
Flatten cardboard boxes used for wrapping (that are not worthy of storing and reusing) and add to the recycling. Sadly, glossy paper is not recyclable and as pretty as it may be ~ it’s better to avoid when shopping for wrapping paper. Better yet, join my family’s tradition of enjoying gift bags and seeing how many years we can keep them in good shape and continue to share them back and forth and all around. Just add some recyclable tissue paper, a length of bright ribbon, a big handmade tag, and it’s a whole new way of disguising that cherished treasure to gift someone with.
Everyone is talented enough to give a gift that doesn’t come from a store or need to be charged on a credit card. What are your talents? Do you like to cook, but get too overwhelmed with many projects at this time of the year to give more food gifts? How about making a ‘certificate’ for the recipient to come over for a couple of cooking lessons, or you at their place? A friend of mine is a highly organized chef who has a gift for setting up a kitchen in the best and most logical way possible. THIS is a service she can, and has, given as a gift. What comes easily to her doesn’t for everyone, so while she’s tired of cooking and wants to relax after work, she still enjoys rearranging a friend’s kitchen cupboards for better functionality and flow on a Saturday afternoon.
How about you? Does garden planning come easily to you? Perhaps a friend or relative who has mentioned how much they admire your garden would cherish a couple of hours of your time and advice to come over and help them with some plans. Maybe you’re a mechanic, baker, woodworker, or find enjoyment in time spent with children. Make a certificate to offer your time, such as with (extra) babysitting services for the kids of your friends or family. Just by making it in to a coupon of sorts, you’re offering your time and expertise in the nicest of ways – by making it an environmentally-friendly gift!
Don’t have access to a printer? Make it with a glue stick or tape and some creativity! I can’t bear to part with any of my old gardening magazines so I won’t suggest tearing one up for art, but you could use a photo of your garden stuck to a page and write out a comment such as “This Certificate Hereby Entitles The Bearer To A Free 2-hour Gardening Consult”.
This is a perfect example of how it’s the thought (and follow-through) that counts. So don’t worry about the ‘gift’ as much as your offer and commitment to give of your time to your recipient.
Gifting others with something beautiful we have found in nature is a wonderful way to offer something that remains easy on the environment (granted no one collects from a fragile or protected area) and helps us all remain connected to the earth. An interesting piece of driftwood, a crystal, some shells, a clean feather, a special rock or found arrowhead… these treasures are welcomed gifts that recipients will joyfully display.
On my wish-list with my family, I share certain authors, long gone, to watch for in second-hand bookstores. My only requirement is that they flip through and smell the book before purchasing, because no one likes a musty old book. But a classic that’s been well maintained? Now we’re talking! How about a china teacup and saucer? Or a broach? Or an antique pocket watch? Old gold is as beautiful as new, and is not perpetuating the ecologically harmful process of mining and forming gold, so offer someone a second-hand gold necklace rather than brand-new. These are just a few creative ideas that could be something you already have and might feel ready to pass along to another.
A very fast yet highly welcomed gift from my repertoire is a tin of mulling bundles. While these can be added to a bottle of red wine and gently warmed to make mulled wine, in my family we use these to add to a crockpot full of apple juice for our easy version of mulled apple cider. And at the very least, these bundles can be simmered gently in a pot of water on the back of the stove to fill your home with the most deliciously festive aroma imaginable!
Onto an 8” square of cheesecloth, place a tablespoon of brown sugar, 5 whole cloves, about 8-10 whole allspice, a thin length of orange rind, and a stick of cinnamon, broken into pieces. Tie bundle closed with kitchen twine, and repeat to make several! I like to line a clean cookie tin with a layer of wax or parchment paper, and fill with about a dozen of these bundles. This makes an especially nice ‘theme gift’ by tucking the tin into a basket along with a jug of locally produced organic apple juice and a set of nice mugs.
Another fast and easy gift from your kitchen is chocolate-covered almond clusters. Into 8 ounces of melted organic chocolate, stir in 2 cups of slivered almonds (or the nuts of your choice). Stir quickly and drop by spoonfuls onto parchment paper. I find using a teaspoon in each hand and scooping the small bundle over into each spoon to make a sort of a ‘ball’ works best. Allow clusters to cool about an hour and then set into tins or jars with layers separated by parchment paper. These last for up to a month in the fridge. Allow to come to room temperature before serving, if possible!
With Christmas right around the corner I encourage us to do what we can to collect, reuse, and recycle our gift bows and wrapping, and even help eliminate them altogether with a thoughtful and heartfelt ‘certificate’ for your time and talents, given in an envelope or other small wrapping. And let’s remember that the best gifts do not have to come prepackaged and purchased from a store. Give from your heart, and may we all enjoy the best holiday season yet!