I've just written a letter to my family on this very topic. I'm pretty happy with how it turned out, but haven't sent it out yet (I want to include some ideas for them, so they're not completely lost).
I'm still struggling with the birthday parties thing . . . I had a thread on this subject in the childhood section. Some of those kids seem much more 'socially conscious' than my own, so I'm not sure any of those ideas will work in my family, but they may work for yours.