Green SanctuaryThis year you can resolve to have a greener, cheaper, more meaningful holiday season through alternative giving! Instead of just going to the mall and spending too much, be creative by inventing your own original presents, purchasing green products that express your values, or making a donation in someone’s name. Here are some suggestions.

Give your time rather than things.   Do someone else’s household chores for three months or give babysitting coupons. These would be inexpensive presents with great meaning and value to the recipient.

Make your presents, if you’re skilled at crafts or like to cook or bake. But be sure to start early enough that it doesn’t add to the holiday crush.

Shop at the People’s Church Holiday Bazaar where you will find tons of interesting choices, including a white elephant sale where you can find unique and repurposed items.

Give a favorite thing or special book that you have enjoyed to someone who you know will enjoy it also.

Take the time pressure off the traditional holiday season. If you love entertaining, throw a Groundhog Day party or celebrate the Chinese New Year.

Donations make wonderful presents for people who really don’t need anything. But you need to find a source that has special meaning for that person. Many non-profits have creative donation ideas, as well as the many local organizations to choose from.

Donations can be great gifts for children too.   One grandmother started giving a Heifer International animal to her grandchild when she was two. When she was school age, the grandmother would pick a country and make up a story to go along with the Heifer card. She would ask the grandchild what animal she would like to give every year. This is one of the favorite traditions that these two still share. Paws With A Cause is headquartered nearby in Wayland and you could take a child on an outing so s/he could see how that donation worked. The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee rescues old circus and zoo elephants and gives them a home where they can roam free. Just ten dollars makes a difference! There are many, many other paid options like OxFam, World Wildlife Fund, or Save the Children. Look on http://buynothingchristmas.org if you need more inspiration.

You will find that giving and receiving alternative gifts is an effective way to channel the true holiday spirit and help the environment at the same time.

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