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Re-Greening the Holidays:
The “spirit” of the holidays seems to have gotten lost in red tape and bottom lines. Christmas has begun to feel like “keeping up with the Jones'” on overdrive. For the budget-oriented gift giver, the pressures may seem somewhat insurmountable, but they’re not. Step one is to remind yourself of the things that really matter during the holidays – things without a price tag like kindness.

Step two is remembering that a price tag doesn’t imply quality, nor does quantity indicate “love”. What matters is thoughtful choices. For the green household these choices can include hitting second hand stores, flea markets, and charitable group’s garage sales to find something just perfect that’s also recycled and the right price.

I can’t begin to tell you how many times I’ve found clothes with original price tags still intact, for example.

Step three is considering the right, best gift. Again, expense doesn’t dictate the correctness of a gift. To illustrate: I have a friend who is vegetarian. So as I’m making canned and dried blends for the holidays, I make one that’s wholly vegetarian.

It’s not costly, but it’s the perfect gift for the circumstances. The organic nature of the gift still honors a green home, and it honors my friend’s lifestyle choice while still tasting great.

Fourth, what about re-gifting? Many people think this is terribly tacky, but in my opinion it’s another way to recycle and get things into hands where they’ll be really used and appreciated.

I remember one day a friend walking through my home and seeing an item gifted to me sitting in a semi-forgotten bookshelf corner. She commented on how she’d been looking for such an item for a long time. So, I cleaned it up, packaged it with a hand made card, and gave her a gift that she adores. It doesn’t matter that it was in my home previously, in fact that probably makes it more special.

Other ways of keeping the holidays green are a little more straight-forward. Remember to buy recycled wrapping paper and cards for a start.

If you have parties with a gift exchange, have everyone agree to make the items recyclable or found treasures. Consider having pot luck parties too where leftovers can be put to good use. And if you happen to use a real tree, recycle it too – make incense, cut pieces for wood burning and carving, and use the mulch in your spring garden.

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