Holiday gift giving need not be costly or chaotic

Here are 15 ideas for when you want to give your best
November 18, 2004

Holiday gift giving seems to get more complicated each year. Many go to great lengths to find special or unusual presents. But responsible gift giving need not be costly or chaotic.

As a holiday present to you, your finances and the environment, here’s a list of all-occasion gift ideas to help you have a harmonious holiday season and peacefully welcome the new year.

Commit to the community. Enroll that special person in a class or workshop for people who have "always wanted to learn how to…."

Encourage friends and family to continue learning with a museum, nature center, national park, nonprofit organization or civic club membership.

Support local art and recreation by giving tickets to theater, ballet, music, movie or sporting events.

Choose gift certificates for restaurants or services, including oil changes and tire balancing to keep cars running efficiently.

Contribute in a loved one’s honor to a local charity, such as a library, community group, local environmental group, food bank, battered women’s shelter or homeless shelter. Call local churches, synagogues and charitable organizations for ideas.

Reconnect with family and friends. Create certificates redeemable for help with chores or volunteer work: babysitting, pet-sitting, raking, weeding, preparing meals or larger chores such as cleaning out a garage or attic. Find ready-to-print certificates on-line here:

Share your own talents by making crafts or food or teaching family and friends a skill in which you excel.

Make a weekly or monthly "date" with someone to improve yourselves together (doing volunteer work, hiking, taking a class) while you support your community.

Treat someone to a special activity you both can share, such as a candlelight dinner, nature hike or massage.

Send a handwritten letter or card to a long-distance friend or relative once a month for a year.

Teach environmentalism through action. Introduce someone to environmentally friendly products such as compost bins, rechargeable batteries, compact fluorescent light bulbs, low-flow showerheads and faucet aerators, reusable containers, reusable commuter mugs for the car, cloth napkins and napkin rings, canvas bags, or hand-powered flashlights or radios.

Plant herbs, bulbs, shrubs or trees, which clean the air, beautify living spaces and last all year.

Visit artist galleries and stores for one-of-a-kind items made locally.

Select a Christmas tree with an intact root ball and replant it after the holidays. Have a tree planted elsewhere in someone’s honor through American Forests, the Arbor Day Foundation or your city arborist.

Wrap gifts in the Sunday comics section, old maps, decorated brown grocery bags, pre-used gift wrap (still intact), a colorful piece of material or a reusable canvas tote bag instead of new wrapping paper.

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