Yes, it's about that time of year. They’ve already begun playing Christmas music at the mall, and I’m pretty sure I heard a Christmas rap song on the radio. And with these telltale signs of the holiday season, it’s prudent to get planning on your Christmas list. Organic Soul has whipped up some of what we think is the best holiday gift ideas, all with an eco-friendly or frugal aspect to them (sometimes both). From toddlers to teens to the retired, there’s something on here for everyone.
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Number 1: Not a gift, but a custom: Secret Santa
I realize playing Secret Santa isn’t a gift, so it shouldn’t really be on the list. Regardless, it deals with presents and fits right into our theme of green, price-minded gifting. Most people have probably played Secret Santa, but for those who haven’t, here’s the run down. First, on a small piece of paper, everyone writes their name, things they like, and things they dislike. Everyone then places their folded paper into a hat. Mix it up, and then people draw for others’ names. Whoever you get, that’s who you buy a gift for.
The benefit of Secret Santa is that it can save a big group of friend’s money by not having everyone get everyone else something. Frugality, check. Also, this means less waste is going toward wrapping and packaging, and there will fewer presents in circulation, meaning less trash if you gift is weak. Eco-friendly, check.
Number 2: Himalayan Salt Lamps
At first, I second-guessed this gift making it on the list. I mean, a lamp? Really? But yes, a lamp. It turns out that salt lamps are potentially very good for you. Basically, the million-year-old salt has very high mineral content, and once the light (or flame for candles) is turned on in these lamps, the salt emits negative ions. Negative ions bond with pollutants, making them heavy and dropping them from the air and out of circulation.
While the health benefits are debated, the Journal of Applied Psychology noted they have the same effect as sunshine and fresh air. Despite the travel that they must go through, these lamps serve as an all-natural, healthy air purifier for the home. They have a beautiful look and are sure to please parents or grandparents alike.
Number 3: Homemade Soaps, Scrubs, and Salts
Beware cold-season’s drying effect. Help equip your friends and loved ones with some moisturizing goodness. Mix four parts oil to one part organic sugar for a good cuticle scrub, or try your hand at your favorite soap recipe. Also, some natural aromatherapy is also a great gift to give. These are cheap to make and can be a part of a wonderful gift basket!
Number 4: Tickets
Here’s a good gift idea: don’t buy a single gift at all, and instead go to some cultural outing. Go see a play, a musical, an orchestra, or be a part of a horse ride. Often cities will have light shows or tours of wonderfully lit neighborhoods. The prices can range from free to a bit expensive, giving you a little leeway on your gift.
Number 5: Recycled or Handmade Jewelry/Accessories
Looking to ‘woo’ someone new for the holidays? Try some handmade or recycled jewelry. They often re-polish and design any recycled jewelry, giving it a clean but weathered look with plenty of personality. It’s also a great gift for mom or grandma (or both). Prices are also pretty flexible, but guess that it will cost you about $30 on average.
Number 6: Reusable Bags
Now’s the perfect time to get your family and friends stocked up on reusable bags; at any other time of the year, you would just look like an eco-nut trying to get everyone off plastic. But alas, Christmas allows us the perfect forum to spread our ideas around along with our love. Be sure to get quality reusable bags, preferable from recycled materials. You can also make your own from old shirts. In any form, if you can get one or more persons a year to stop using plastic bags, that’s a Christmas present for the Earth!
Number 7: Eco Toys for Kids
For the chillins’, be sure to get non-toxic, eco-safe toys. With all the focus on toxic toys, it’s understandable why many people want to go green in this department. For the youngest, try “Eco House” – a miniature playhouse made eco-friendly rubber wood, and recycled paper. Oh, it comes with a solar panel and wind turbine too (no, no – they're non-functional). If that doesn’t do it for you, try some beeswax crayons or organic cotton finger puppets.
Number 8: Green for Teens
What about the teenagers, or preteens for that matter? First, check out some shoes made from recycled material. These usually cost about the same as regular shoes, but have either recycled or eco-safe ingredients. Not a fan of shoes? You can also get them some quality t-shirts so they’ll stand out from their peers. Check out Formalitees (the tie-tee) or t-shirts from Humility Now. Formalitees is all-organic and American made, and Humility Now donates t-shirts to the homeless for every t-shirt bought. Both are support good causes, and both have designs teens will love.
Number 9: A Juicer
If you’re buying a gift for someone you already know to be a “greenie”, consider a juicer. Seem lame and impersonal? Allow me to elaborate. Having your own juicer is a major step in the pathway for better living. Not only does it allow you to create your own flavors, but because you don’t have to worry about transport and refrigeration like a big company, you don’t have to worry about pasteurization and preservatives. This means more nutrients and flavor remain in the juice. Anyone with a juicer will attest to the benefits!
Number 10: Charity
Want to give the gift that keeps on giving? Please, please, please go donate your time, money, and energy to charity. It seems like a lot to do, granted the whole idea of winter break, but for those without a warm home and full plate, the holidays can be the hardest time of the year. Bring a box of presents to a children’s hospital or go visit your disabled veterans. Maybe take your whole family with you. It’s fun, you meet great people, and you feel good about yourself afterward.
Number 11: You
The best gift this holiday season is you. Go have fun with your family or friends. Quit playing the role you play in life, take a deep breath, and really try to spend quality time with those who are important. It’s a shame that the holidays have to be characterized by stress and depression. Whether you have Christmas with one person, alone, or with your whole family, know that it is a time of year where you have the right to be happy for no real reason.
Whether you know it or not, people out there love you and care about your well-being. Sometimes it takes a little reaching on your part to get that really started. If you find yourself in a grumpy family (which is not uncommon), the best thing to do is be the change you want to see. Openly love your family, and brush off the negativity.
If you can do that, then you will really experience a merry Christmas (the juicer will help too).