“OMIGOSH! It’s December, and I haven’t even thought about holiday gifts!”
If this is you, you’ve come to the right place. The Green Sanctuary Committee can help you out with our 2020 edition of Alternative Giving: Earth-Friendly Ideas.
This is an unusual year by just about any standard, so why not make it the year you resolve to have a greener, cheaper, more meaningful holiday season through alternative giving! You’re probably not going to venture out to the mall anyway, so instead we invite you to use your imagination – think outside the box – create new holiday traditions! Here are some ideas.
- Slow Climate Change with a gift that offsets part of your recipient’s carbon footprint.
- One of the strongest actions you can take for the climate is to plant trees. Consider gifting a donation to one of these organizations that will plant them for you in places where they will make a difference: 8BillionTrees.com; the Arbor Day Foundation; Interfaith Power and Light; Trees.org; The Nature Conservancy; NationalForests.org.
- How about establishing a “re-gifting exchange” with your family members – those things you don’t really use but are perfectly good can become someone else’s prized treasure, without using any more of the earth’s resources
- Give it all away!! Do you really need all that stuff? The indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest created the Potlatch, an annual sharing ceremony where they gave away or destroyed their accumulated goods as a show of wealth, community and leadership. So you could do your spring cleaning in December and gather up useful things to donate to homeless shelters or community charities that can find people who can use them. Think of this as a gift of simplicity to yourself as well.
- Give your time rather than things. Do someone else’s household chores for a month or give babysitting coupons. Those would be inexpensive presents with great meaning and value to the recipient.
- If you’re skilled at crafts or like to cook or bake, make your presents. But be sure to start early enough that it doesn’t add to the holiday crush.
- Give one of your favorite things, like tickets to an event, or a special book that you have enjoyed to someone that you know will enjoy it also.
- If you love entertaining, give someone a party at some future date, to take some of the time pressure off the traditional holiday season.
- 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. Some possible organizations to choose from.
- Paws With A Cause trains service and assistance dogs and is headquartered nearby in Wayland.
- The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee rescues old circus and zoo elephants and gives them a home where they can roam free. Any contribution will make a difference!
- Donations can be great gifts for children too. One grandmother started giving a Heifer International animal to her grandchild when she was two. When the grandchild 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 each year. This is one of the favorite traditions that these two still share.
- There are many, many other options like World Wildlife Fund, Kalamazoo Nature Center, SW Michigan Land Conservancy, OxFam, the UN High Commission on Refugees, or Save the Children.
- Check out Alternative Gifts International if you need more ideas.