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Simplify Christmas: 12 Days, 12 Ways

12/13/2010 12:00:00 AM

Tags: holiday, holidays, Christmas, simplify

The countdown begins…we’re 12 days away from the holiday that brings both joy and stress to those who celebrate it. At Natural Home, we’ve been seeking and sharing ways to simplify this season, which can wreak havoc on both people and the planet, for more than a decade. Here are 12 great ways to make your Christmas bright, beautiful and benign.

1. Seek out gifts that are minimally packaged, don’t require batteries, are recyclable and locally made.

2. When buying gifts, ask yourself if the potential recipient really needs it and where it will go when it’s thrown away.

Wood from the Hood frames 
Buys gifts that are recycled or locally made, such as these reclaimed wood picture frames from Wood from the Hood. 

3. Give gifts that won’t produce waste: concert tickets, museum or gym memberships, charitable donations.

4. Save wrapping paper and ribbon to use again.

5. Wrap gifts in newspaper, which is recyclable, or fabric, which is reusable. Old scarves and men’s ties make excellent ribbons. (For great gift-wrapping ideas, see the articles Green Gift Wrap and Try This: Do-It-Yourself Wrapping.

6. Buy or make reusable gift bags.

reusable gift bags 
Give gifts wrapped in recycled paper or placed in reusable gift bags. 

7. Download Gift Exemption Vouchers from In return for letting recipients off the gift-giving hook, agree to spend time together.

8. Make wreaths and swags from items in your own backyard (evergreen branches, pinecones, nuts, holly).

9. Instead of hosting a lavish dinner, invite friends and family for brunch or dessert.

10. Send cards to only half your list. Finish the task next year. (Better yet, send e-cards.)

11. When buying presents online, avoid overnight delivery. Using ground delivery is probably the single biggest thing you can do to lessen the impact of online shopping. Combine orders, and have gifts sent to your workplace, where UPS, FedEx and the U.S. Postal Service are probably already stopping by.

12. Replace old-fashioned, energy-thirsty string lights with ultra-efficient LEDs.

And finally, I urge you to read Bill McKibben’s “Hundred Dollar Holiday'. I aim for this goal—of spending only $100 on Christmas—every year. I’ve yet to make it, but it sure is fun to try. Happy holidays!


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