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Simple gifts

Like many people, we’re trying to keep Christmas under control this year, financially speaking. I’d love to say money isn’t important, but we have a limited supply of it so we have to limit our gift giving accordingly. Our choice is to be as creative as we can so we still give gifts to please our loved ones.

Anyway, here’s a couple of our gift ideas in case they help others who are struggling with what to give this year:

  • buy cheap items and let the kids decorate them for grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc. For example, cheap photo frames, plant pots, candles and storage jars make unique and special gifts with some time and little money
  • buy a few bits and pieces and put them in a nice bag – it tends to be cheaper than buying the pretty hampers you see in big stores
  • buy some beads and elastic and let the kids make necklaces, etc for the girls in your family (and boys if they would like it!)
  • cut, sand and paint some offcuts of wood – an instant set of building blocks any toddler will appreciate knocking over! Put them in a bucket or bag and you’re done – much more environmentally friendly than plastic blocks, too
  • cut some cardboard into gift cards and fold in half. Get the kids or someone artistic to decorate the cards for multiple occasions and you have a set of cards to give as a gift – remember that people pay $15 or more for a few nice cards to store away

Not only are we saving money, we’re also having fun making things and teaching our kids it is the giving with love that counts, not the price tags. I bet we aren’t the only ones being creative and we’d love to hear other people’s ideas, too – please?

Wrapping paper reuse

Who else collects and reuses wrapping paper? Just at Christmas or year round?

We always fold up the decent bits of paper (those the kids have ripped to shreds go in the recycling bin!) and keep them for future use. Some relatives look down at us for it, thinking we’re being cheap and lazy. Yes, it does save us money (some of which goes into buying better presents for said relatives!) but more importantly, it saves the environment.

The creation of wrapping paper involves chopping down trees, processing the paper (which uses fossil fuels and huge amounts of water) and printing the paper. Then add in the footprint of wrapping paper – how far does it travel to reach your Christmas tree? And if you collect enough paper, it is one less thing you need to worry about buying next Christmas (potentially saving pollution of driving to the shops, too!)

Other ways we save on wrapping paper are:

  • using paper we already have (e.g. from the deli) and getting the kids to decorate it – saves paper and money, entertains the kids and provides a personalised wrapping paper
  • using something practical instead of paper – tea towels and ribbons in particular wrap gifts nicely

What does everyone else think about green gift wrapping?

Christmas shopping…

How is your Christmas shopping going? The more you can do before 1 December, the better. Why?

  • it avoids the need to go to the shops during those crazy, busy December days (and nights)
  • it spreads out the expense of Christmas
  • you can save money if you buy things on special rather than the day before you need them
  • you have more time to realise you forgot something and grab it before you actually need it!

Other than perishable foods, do you try to get everything bought before December?

Being green at Christmas

Christmas is a time of celebrations, family and fun. It’s easy in these times to forget about water and energy conservation, but conserving our resources is a year round activity.

Some easy ways to save energy of the summer holiday period are:

– Use curtains to keep out the sun and a fan to move the air rather than turning on an air conditioner or evaporative cooler
– Serve directly onto plates instead of serving platters so there are fewer dishes to wash
– Have a container ready for plates to be scraped into rather than rinsing them
– Consider dry flower or fruit arrangements instead of filling large vases with water for fresh flowers
– Use wine glass charms or another method to distinguish glasses so people can use the same one instead of washing glasses all day

And it doesn’t have to stop there! You can use alternative wrappings for presents instead of using so much paper, perhaps a nice tea towel, table cloth, hanky or scarf. You could even give some water saving gifts such as a tap timer or an efficient shower head. We have a few more ideas listed in our article on saving water at Christmas, too.

Christmas is only 12 weeks away, so now is the time to sit down and plan out your Christmas and make it practical and environment friendly. 🙂

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