We’ll soon be celebrating the most wonderful time of the year—the Gift of God’s only Son born to save humanity. The Three Wise Men visited baby Jesus offering deeply meaningful gifts. From this came our tradition of giving gifts.
Though the sharing of presents started off with good intentions, the Christmas season is now highly commercialized in our culture. Many of us tend to shop and eat to excess during the season instead of thinking of the real meaning of the holiday. In fact, in America alone, there is a 25% increase in waste during the ONE month between Thanksgiving and Christmas, adding exponentially to landfills and creating enormous amounts of pollution contributing to climate imbalance that we don’t think about. With a few changes, we can lessen the negative impact that our festivities have on our beautiful God given planet earth…our home.
Conscientious Gift Wrapping
Consider the following ideas to avoid waste:
- Use Kraft (shipping) paper. It comes in brown or white. Decorate using real fabric ribbons and things found in nature such as greens and pine cones. Save and reuse the ribbons from year to Compost the greens and recycle the paper.
- Use fabric. You can often find it at 50% off at JoAnn’s Fabrics before the holidays. The simplest way is to wrap it around a box as you would wrapping paper and secure with a safety pin at the bottom. Decorate with found objects or a ribbon. Create beautiful packages using the Furoshiki method. Look up “Furoshiki” or Japanese wrapping with cloth. Make simple bags with a drawstring at the top (think pillowcase). These are great for odd shaped objects.
- Paper gift bags can be used over and over. Good ones to buy have a dull finish and are recyclable. Bags with glitter or metal or a shiny finish go in the trash.
- Cut up old Christmas cards to decorate packages or for nametags.
- Be creative with padding gifts. Since tissue is not recyclable (it gets gummy when wet), try padding gifts with fabric netting, tulle, newspaper, or magazine pages.
- Use part of the gift to wrap with. For example use a scarf to wrap a coordinating sweater, or a dish towel to wrap a cookbook.
Thoughtful Gift Giving
- Reduce the number that you give. It is better to give one quality gift that will be useful for years than several less useful that will be discarded in a matter of months like many Christmas gifts. Clutter can become a burden.
- If a gift requires batteries, consider purchasing rechargeable batteries along with a charger.
- Give an experience! Tickets to a play, a sporting event, ice skating, snow skiing, a concert, a museum membership, speakers’ series, music lessons, summer camp, a hot air balloon ride, zip lining, rock climbing, etc.… Memories often last longer than things.
- For the person with everything, give a donation to his/her favorite charity.
- Give the gift of your time. Make personalized coupons offering a gift of service to the recipient. Young people can offer to help older family members with chores such as raking leaves, shoveling snow, cutting grass, walking the dog, and most of all, helping with technology! New parents would welcome coupons to redeem for babysitting offered by trained babysitters.
- With children, consider the 4-gift rule: Something they Want, Something they Need, Something to Wear, and Something to Read. Buy a puzzle or board game that the family can enjoy together.
See more ideas at New Dream: More of What Matters –Tips: 15 Tips for commercial free, fun filled family holidays.
Gift of Gracious Gatherings
- To prevent food waste, plan the menu carefully, letting others know the best menu item to bring to avoid having more desserts and no appetizer. While cooking, compost vegetable and fruit trimmings.
- If you have a surplus of food, fill a few “Aid for Friends” trays while the food is fresh. Ask guests to bring containers to take leftovers home.
- Use real dishes. If you need more, ask a guest to bring some. If you have a really large gathering, consider renting dinnerware. You won’t even have to wash them!
- If you must use disposable dinnerware, use paper dishes made of recycled paper and are compostable. Chinet makes such a product.
- If plastic is used at an event, properly rinse and recycle or wash and store for future use.
- Prevent the difficulty of a back up in the sewer system. Do not pour fat and grease into the sink but pour into a jar or old coffee can and dispose of in the trash.
If we all practice a few of these tips, we’ll give each other a meaningful Christmas gift… a healthier earth for all of us! Trinity Cares for Creation.