"Green" Christmas present ideas - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 32 Old 07-18-2008, 05:41 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I know its a little early to be thinking about Christmas, but hey it beats waiting til the last minute and running out to buy cheap plastic crap from China.

So neways, we are spending Christmas with DH's family. THey usually do a gift exchange where either you bring one male or female gift or they draw names. Each family usually gives out "little" gifts to everyone else since its a big family and you cant buy for everyone. For example, his aunt gave everyone a jar of spiced nuts last year and his grandma just hands out 20 dollar bills! LOL

This year I want to try to do "earth friendly" gifts. I dont want to spend a ton of money. Any ideas?
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#2 of 32 Old 07-18-2008, 06:40 PM
 
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What a great thread to start. Here are a couple of ideas:

Cloth napkins (homemade ones are so easy)
Dr. Bronner's soap
Baked goods
Those little rice packs that you can heat up or freeze (for sore muscles)

Oh my goodness, I can't think of anything right now. . . There must be a million ideas. I'll just lurk and see what other folks have to say.

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#3 of 32 Old 07-18-2008, 06:52 PM
 
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I just stumbled upon this thread from last year while looking for something else to use besides mineral oil on my cutting board. Lots of great ideas!

http://www.mothering.com/discussions...d.php?t=746569

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#4 of 32 Old 07-19-2008, 06:47 AM
 
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I have bought most of my gifts so far from yard sales, so it's eco friendly just from buying second hand. I'm also going to be baking, which is no waste (I'll be using reusable tins and plates) and hopefully using as much eco friendly ingredients as possible.
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#5 of 32 Old 07-20-2008, 10:28 AM
 
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Can you make some jam or jelly and put it in little jars? Or how about homemade granola? Mommycoddle's website has a recipe for really big batches of very yummy granola.

I got a bunch of Chico bags in coops last year and gave them as little gifts.

I also made little treats using those little square pretzles, a hersey's kiss and an M&M. The directions are here. I got some plain, white chinese food containers and let my DS decorate them with holiday stickers and stamps and put the candies in them, then I clipped the Chico bad to the handles (Chico bags have a little carabiner-type clip on them).

I think I'm going to make a lot of spagetti sauce in quart jars and give that to everyone on my "just a little something" list. Maybe with a box of pasta? I haven't decided yet.
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#6 of 32 Old 07-21-2008, 04:12 AM
 
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i second the homemade treat (fudge, granola). I did cookie and soup mixes last year. this year i'll do jam.

I also gave relatives energy efficient light bulbs as their gift. everyone can use light bulbs.

all of this in a reusable bag.

thanks for posting the link to last year!
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#7 of 32 Old 07-21-2008, 08:47 PM
 
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you could always make or buy reusable shopping bags (or even mesh laundry bags).....maybe like three to a family....since one probably would not be enough. And then hopefully they would be helping the earth by not using disposable.
Maybe even put a list of eco friendly ideas inside ...hehe. You could probably luer some of them into being more eco friendly by bringing up how it saves money...that normally gets people's attention...hehe

you could make nature friendly cleaners/detergents and maybe a list of reasons to use them and maybe some other natural cleaning ideas

my mom has made pancake mix, cookies, salsa, jelly (various kinds), stew, chili, relish and such for gifts....people always beg for more! Any food treats are always good ideas.
my g-ma used to always make bread(banana and poppy seed)........boy we really liked that! She would make them in tin cans...which was a neat recycling idea

Last year I bought mugs for a dollar a piece at walmart and then made a batch of homemade cocoa and put it in little treat bags and then put that inside the cup. So people got a reusable cup and a treat. It was pretty inexpensive. I think I did all of my cousins, neice and nephrews for like 20 bucks. With the adults I got the 1 dollar glass or ceramic mugs (you could even do a holiday mug for cheap) and for the kids I got plastic reusable holiday cups and wrote their names on them. As stated previously they all had cocoa in them. Everyone really liked them.
For my aunts/uncles I did a cleaning kit. It was very inexpensive, but not neccessarily eco friendly. I got little plastic baskets (4 for a dollar) and then bought sponges (10 cents each) and then got a little bottle of spray cleaner (less than a buck a piece), and then a little bottle of dawn (about 88 cents a piece). I put all of the cleaning supplies into the little basket and put some ribbon around it that held on a cute little card that had a little rhyme about cleaning and life. Everyone liked that too. And the best thing about all of this was that my mom and I split the cost and had it be from both of us..... so to do the WHOLE extended family was only about 25 bucks or less a person(when splitting it like that, it I paid less than a dollar a person). I of course bought more stuff for my parents, siblings, g-ma.....ok and my neice and nephrews because we have two celebrations that they attend and I did not want to jip them.
But back to the point...reusable cups are good gifts. I have done this for my daughters school parties as well.

This year we are doing picnic sets...this is not as cheap because my mom started buying stuff "willy nilly". She plans on have a small rubbermaid and putter disposbable plates, cups, napkins, silverware and a resuesable table cloth. I told her that we should instead do a small cooler with reseusable items in there....it was cheaper and better for the environment.

Make custom aprons or buy a couple hand towels and embroider the letter of their last name on them. Think of things that everyone uses and ways to make them extra special, such as an initial or matching their theme. Although these are not eco friendly persay...I keep getting inexpensive and eco friendly intertwined....but if you did do two hand towels per family, then that would hopefullly cut down on paper towel usage.

if you live close do 'dates' or 'tickets'....meaning you give them a pass or just say that the two of you are going to go out and hang out (go shopping, to a movie, out to eat, or to the park).
Cleaning ticket- I did this for my brother and he was thrilled. I gave him a little ticket and said that it was his free house cleaning ticket. So one day I came over and cleaned his home for him. He thought that was the best gift he could get.
yard care ticket-mow weed eat or pick up stcks and rocks
Meal ticket- you have them over (or go over to their house)and make a meal for them.
Services instead of physical gifts are great
For my other brother I would do food baskets...this one was more practical than eco friendly.

make jewelry or other things like that...possibly clothes if you have sizes

take a family photo (or if you have a photo of them) and put it in a frame or make/decorate a frame

last year I also made custom calendars...on birthdays it had a pic of that person (you could even put their age), on anniversaries it had hearts and said the names (you could even put how many years married). On holidays I put an icon that represented it. You could also add special dates such as reunions. This is nice because people can remember special dates and have a calendar decorated with pics of the family.....so it would not be tossed like many other calendars.


basically any service type things and hand made items are good and of course personal items such as pictures
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#8 of 32 Old 07-21-2008, 11:24 PM
 
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subbing for ideas.

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#9 of 32 Old 07-26-2008, 10:00 AM
 
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I love to get homemade powdered hot drink mixes. you can put them in mason jars, along with the recipe so your gift recipient can make more.

These recipes are from the Hillbilly Housewife. If you don't want to use sugar, you can use xylitol in equal amounts.
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#10 of 32 Old 07-26-2008, 10:13 AM
 
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I have been looking for inexpensive, high quality stainless steel water bottles to get for everyone for Christmas. The seems like such a great thing that everyone can use and we LOVE ours. The inexpensive part is the catch so far....
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#11 of 32 Old 07-26-2008, 10:25 AM
 
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I have been looking for inexpensive, high quality stainless steel water bottles to get for everyone for Christmas. The seems like such a great thing that everyone can use and we LOVE ours. The inexpensive part is the catch so far....
Maybe your could find a used water bottle on ebay or amazon. I would not mind receiving a used stainless steel water bottle as a gift because I know their value.
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#12 of 32 Old 07-26-2008, 11:20 AM
 
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I have been looking for inexpensive, high quality stainless steel water bottles to get for everyone for Christmas. The seems like such a great thing that everyone can use and we LOVE ours. The inexpensive part is the catch so far....
Maybe these would fall into your price range?

http://www.amazon.com/New-Wave-Envir...ductPromotions
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#13 of 32 Old 07-26-2008, 03:56 PM
 
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We're thinking that we'll do shaving kits for the men on our list; I have a great recipe for scented shaving soap, and can buy badger bristle brushes on-line for $5/each. If I'm feeling ambitious, I'll make little metal tins of shaving balm for afterwards. We'll find some mugs to but the soap in, and wrap them in a nice reusable bag. I love this idea, because it's inexpensive and homemade for us and (assuming they use them) it also prevents waste in buying packaged shaving cream.

Also, It means I get to make soap, which I love.

I have a ton of Jam made up, and I'm also thinking of making homemade cordials and liquers. I can make the base alcohol with super-yeast and then flavor them with fruit and spices, like coffee and vanilla beans, or raspberries or pomegranate seeds. I think we'll probably end up giving gift baskets with some homemade personal care stuff like soap (did I mention I'm obsessed?), lotion, and body wash, pictures of the kids, and then a ton of edibles -- jam, salsa, wine, booze, and my absolute favorite Matzoh with salt caramel and chocolate on top. Plus, maybe some chico bags, if there's another coop between now and then.

I'm not sure what to do for our kidlets, though...

Quote:
Originally Posted by emelsea View Post
Maybe these would fall into your price range?

http://www.amazon.com/New-Wave-Envir...ductPromotions
Oooh. Thanks for the tip! I don't think we'll wait until Christmas, though. DH and I have been looking for a replacement for our Nalgenes for weeks, and those look fantastic.

Spending all of my money and time on this wild, wild life.
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#14 of 32 Old 07-26-2008, 05:40 PM
 
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I have made kaluha before and put it in wine or beer bottles and given it as gifts. My father in law LOVED this!! It is divine over icecream or as a white russian for dessert. There should be tons of recipes on the 'net.

I've also made homemade vanilla which is a GREAT gift because good quality vanilla is super expensive. DH and I use amber or green colored beer bottles - neat shaped ones if we can find them - and have fun collecting the bottles, too, cause we get to drink the beer!!

This year we are giving a couple of close friends donations to various charities (small donations) in their names. We will put the organization on a tag with a note and attach it to a bottle of wine. These are people who have tons more money than we do and also have every material item known to mankind. DD's godfather, for example. Single, 60, never had kids, and every year we agonize over what to give him cause he has tons of "STUFF!" This year his Christmas present will be that he will help send an underpriviliged child to summer camp.

Everyone else is getting food!!! Cookies, cheese balls, etc. etc. or these really yummy peanuts that we found online.
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#15 of 32 Old 07-27-2008, 01:04 AM
 
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Belleweather - would you mind sharing your recipe for shaving soap? It's so hard to find good stuff & dh prefers to use it to shaving cream. As well, he uses a metal camp mug for shaving - loves it, it's nice & big & deep & has a good sized handle. They're pretty cheap & available everywhere - something like this: http://www.great4camping.co.uk/produ...roducts_id=320

Surviving sleep deprivation one day at a time with dd (Oct '11) & ds (Oct '08).

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#16 of 32 Old 07-27-2008, 08:12 PM
 
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Belleweather - would you mind sharing your recipe for shaving soap? It's so hard to find good stuff & dh prefers to use it to shaving cream. As well, he uses a metal camp mug for shaving - loves it, it's nice & big & deep & has a good sized handle. They're pretty cheap & available everywhere - something like this: http://www.great4camping.co.uk/produ...roducts_id=320
Thanks! That's a perfect idea, and I know JUST where to get them.

For shaving soap, I use this recipe, from www.milllersoap.com

24 oz canola
18 oz coconut oil
6 oz cocoa butter
6 oz castor oil
16 oz olive oil (pomace or pomace/olive blend is fine)
9.8 oz lye
21-23 oz water
Fragrance Oil or Essential Oil of choice

But I scent it a bit lighter than I usually would with something 'masculine' (I like brambleberry's Black Tea scent, personally) and have in the past added just a touch of beeswax pastilles for extra hardness. Of course, you'd want to run any soap recipe through a lye calculator before using it. the ****** Soap page has a ton of basic (and not so basic) soapmaking information if you're a beginner. It sounds FAR more complicated than it is, really.

I usually mold it in a length of plastic pipe from the hardware store so that it's round, and wrap it in some nice tissue paper after it's cured.

Spending all of my money and time on this wild, wild life.
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#17 of 32 Old 07-27-2008, 08:14 PM
 
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#18 of 32 Old 07-31-2008, 02:59 PM
 
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I have been looking for inexpensive, high quality stainless steel water bottles to get for everyone for Christmas. The seems like such a great thing that everyone can use and we LOVE ours. The inexpensive part is the catch so far....
Try egeneralmedical.com I bought a whole bunch of stainless water bottles from them. Prices were between 3.44 and 6.44 a bottle - no kidding. And they are more or less the same size as everyone elses, so the ecousable sippy tops fit on these as well.
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#19 of 32 Old 07-31-2008, 03:41 PM
 
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I have seen those and was tempted but heard mixed reviews on quality. Definitely can't beat the price. Have you been pleased with the bottles? Are they easy to clean? One of the things I love about Klean Kanteens is the large mouth for ice and cleaning. Thanks for the suggestions!
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#20 of 32 Old 07-31-2008, 04:19 PM
 
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Great thread! Thank you all for sharing such great ideas! :
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#21 of 32 Old 08-01-2008, 12:20 PM
 
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For Christmas this year we'll be giving away reusable shopping bags filled with green cleaning products, bath products, etc in order to encourage DH's family to be green. Not sure how it's going to go over, but we'll see!

For my parents that are already green, we'll be giving them stainless steel bottles. LL Beans has some multicolored ones, but they're not cheap. Hopefully the quality is good though.
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#22 of 32 Old 08-01-2008, 12:46 PM
 
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For Christmas this year we'll be giving away reusable shopping bags filled with green cleaning products, bath products, etc
That's a great idea!
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#23 of 32 Old 08-01-2008, 02:30 PM
 
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I have seen those and was tempted but heard mixed reviews on quality. Definitely can't beat the price. Have you been pleased with the bottles? Are they easy to clean? One of the things I love about Klean Kanteens is the large mouth for ice and cleaning. Thanks for the suggestions!
I think the paint job on them is a bit weak but it could be the same on the ecousables, don't really know. The mouth on these is NOT as large as the KKs. Otherwise, they're just fine - but I'm not real picky. They're using 201 steel like most everyone else. Honestly, most of these bottles are coming from the same manufacturers overseas in bulk. They're just labeled and marketed differently. If you want 500 of them, you can buy them for a buck or two a bottle.
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#24 of 32 Old 08-01-2008, 05:27 PM
 
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Subbing!

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#25 of 32 Old 08-01-2008, 08:33 PM
 
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I am knitting re-usable grocery bags out plastic bags that we get at grocery stores. You can find instruction on how to cut and connect the plastic bag to make into a knitting ribbon on Youtube. It is more like weaving than knitting, but its fun. You can iron #2 plastic bags with wax paper to make a bag, but I don't like to smell the melting plastic.

I'm using #14 knitting needles to make the bag in a same shape/style of a common grocery bags. It takes about 40-50 bags to make one.

There are creative people out there that they are making rain coat out of these bags, too.
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#26 of 32 Old 08-02-2008, 01:03 AM
 
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B.
Mama to : July '06
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Last year I made a set of 4 napkins with a matching hand towel and tied them with nice ribbon. They came out really nice and everyone liked them a lot. I picked a neutral tone so they could be mixed and matched with other napkins they might already have.

We also got self-sealing jars and made a chocolate sauce. I like this idea better than fudge or candy b/c it seems like there is so much of that around at the season anyways that at least with something jarred it can be kept and used later rather than wasted. I can't give out my recipe for the chocolate sauce b/c it was given to me by a lady who makes it to sell it but a secret ingredient is a little bit of jack daniels.
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#28 of 32 Old 08-02-2008, 09:29 PM
 
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Originally Posted by sidshappymamma View Post
That's a great idea!
Thanks!

And I was thrilled when we went to Whole Foods today and found reusable lunch totes (made from plastic bottles) to use as the gift bags. Cute, small for our gifts, recycled and cheap at 79 cents!

:
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#29 of 32 Old 08-03-2008, 01:33 PM
 
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This etsy seller has lots of cool stuff made out of plastic bags.

http://www.etsy.com/shop.php?user_id=5107911
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#30 of 32 Old 08-03-2008, 08:37 PM
 
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I just stumbled upon this thread from last year while looking for something else to use besides mineral oil on my cutting board. Lots of great ideas!

http://www.mothering.com/discussions...d.php?t=746569
What did you find for wood cutting boards? I've got a beautiful one that could use some love.

Quote:
Originally Posted by GenB View Post
I have made kaluha before and put it in wine or beer bottles and given it as gifts. My father in law LOVED this!! It is divine over icecream or as a white russian for dessert. There should be tons of recipes on the 'net.

I've also made homemade vanilla which is a GREAT gift because good quality vanilla is super expensive. DH and I use amber or green colored beer bottles - neat shaped ones if we can find them - and have fun collecting the bottles, too, cause we get to drink the beer!!
How did you close the bottles after filling them? Cork?

Kristy, wife to Josh proud mama to Katie: since 3/08 and Emma since 8/12.

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