There are only 10 more days until Christmas. My wallet is hurting. My bank account feeling faint. And my green conscience? Not so great after all the Legos we've purchased. I've still got stockings to fill, a White Elephant to outfit, teachers and babysitters and Toys for Tots and so on and so forth. I resolve, however, to finish my Christmas gifts in accordance with my beliefs - and my bank balance.
As a young adult, I shuddered at the idea of re-gifting. But economic and ecological times have changed. In fact, this tongue-in-cheek infographic indicates that carbon footprint of gifts far outweighs those of wrapping paper, travel, food combined. So how to regift without being tacky?
The adults in my family do a White Elephant exchange in lieu of gifts for everyone or even picking names. Acceptable gifts must either be something you already own or costing under $15. We usually get a good laugh and all end up fighting over the six pack of beer while ducking the dreaded "gold cat" - which makes the rounds year after year.
Giving my kids closets and cubbies the once over often yields toys ready to re-gift. This year, I uncovered a brand new board game, still in the original shrink wrap, that we'll donate to Toys for Tots. My sister is giving my son a gift that would have cost $200 new but, as it has been used and outgrown by her kids, it will cost her nothing and make my son quite happy.
And I never, of course, overlook thrift stores. Ours always has a plethora of great books, games, toys, and decorative items. Often, new or nearly new items can be found there for a song.
HANDMADE IN A HURRY
Every crafty one of us has half-finished projects lurking around our house. The half knitted poncho. The almost complete rag rug. The partially sewn blanket. After wading through my projects this year, I discovered a nearly done knitted owl. As luck would have it, my niece is very into owls this year. A few stitches, a little stuffing and some safety eyes and she's getting handmade for the holidays!
My knitting is moving along quite nicely this year which means I might even end up with a few spare evenings for knitting. I'd love to give handmade to everyone in my family but I don't have the time for a full-blown plush owl for everyone. I could, however, whip together a few small creations. Last year, I knit an acorn keychain up for my mom in an afternoon. The year prior, I churned out baby-knit trees in an hour or two. There are dozens of ideas for quick projects out there for every crafter.
The holidays are a time of over-indulgence. But the type of consumption I'm promoting doesn't fill a shopping cart at WalMart - though it will fill your belly! I've got a few "handmade" tricks in my kitchen this late in the game. A jar of homemade jam or granola, home canned tomatoes or dried persimmons will not impact my wallet or my carbon footprint. And yes, I could also whip up some hot cocoa mix, cookies or peppermint bark - most from the contents of my over-stuffed pantry. Have you got some home-brew? Homemade beef jerky? Canned peppers? Or homemade cookies? These items low impact in one way but high impact in another. Seriously, who but someone you really like would get a jar of the canned tomatoes that you slaved over all September long?!
I did say that I still needed to stuff stockings, didn't I? In addition to including the obligatory orange (which my kids always faux grimace over) and a handful of fair trade candy, I'm also stuffing the stockings with necessities: a fun toothbrush (a break from our usual Preserve), some character bandaids (which will inevitably be needed in a house full of boys), and a flash light.
How do you stick close to your values and your money this late in the season?
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