The holidays are a time for family and spreading good cheer, but increasingly it has evolved into vicious consumerism. Every year, we hear stories of people getting injured on Black Friday and commercials for holiday gifts seem to start earlier each year. This consumerism is bad for both the environment and your bank account. Yet, you can’t snub your friends and coworkers. To help you reach a happy medium between overconsumption and looking like a cheapskate to all those you care about, here are a few creative ideas to get you started on a frugal and sustainable holiday season.
1. T-shirt throw pillows: These pillows are very easy to make because they don’t require a sewing machine or any background in sewing for that matter. You can either use an old t-shirt in your closet or make a quick trip to the thrift store, which seem to have a never ending supply of old t-shirts. Full instructions on this upcycled gift can be found here.
2. Toothbrush holders: This gift may seem lame, but that’s before you know that it’s made out of plastic toys, which can take on the form of anything, including a dentalsaurus. Who doesn’t want a dinosaur guarding their toothbrush against unfortunate falls into the toilet? If you don’t have any toys lying around, grab one while you’re on your way to the thrift store for old t-shirts.
3. Homemade hot cocoa mix: There’s nothing better than curling up with a good movie and a steaming mug of hot cocoa on a snowy afternoon except if that mug of hot cocoa were homemade. This recipe is made with ingredients in your cupboard and can even be customized with chunks of candy cane or marshmallows. To make this gift truly green, simply reuse glass containers from salsa or pasta sauce to hold your homemade hot cocoa. Lastly, don’t forget to spruce up your gift with directions and maybe a bow or two.
4. Cinnamon ornaments: Ornaments are a great way to commemorate each holiday season, but visiting Hallmark to buy these can get expensive (not to mention unsustainable), so instead make them yourself. The recipe requires only 3 ingredients, applesauce, cinnamon, and white glue, things you probably already have on hand. You can even carve the year, a name, or a simple drawing into the dough to personalize each one. Perhaps the best thing about these ornaments is the smell, which will get you into the Christmas spirit in no time!
5. Donate to a Charity: When asked what someone wants for Christmas and they reply with, “Peace on Earth,” or something equally impossible, donate to a charity in their name. Numerous environmental organizations such as the NRDC offer you the opportunity to Adopt a Wolf or Buy a Tree. If the recipient you have in mind would rather donate to humans, give Heifer International a look. This site allows you to buy animals and other necessities for needy families so that they may become self-reliant. Such gifts usually come with a card or certificate too so that your family and friends will believe you.