Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Meaningful gifts: last minute green presents

We all love presents. Also gifting others is a beautiful virtue and the happiness of the receiver gives one  feeling of an accomplishment. But the gifting ritual has been somewhat commercialized. Presents are exchanged out of duty with little thought over the meaning, person's desires or impact that our materialistic habits create on our fragile environment. The initial reason for giving -to make another person happy - has somewhat vanished in the capitalized world. Or is it that we are happy only when we receive stuff promoted with million dollar commercials? Sadly, in many countries and for many people shopping habits parallel a national sport. Presents quantity (the more the better, or price value) seems to be the criteria for a gift quality.

We shall not stop giving presents to others, not at all. We might, however, want to change the way we give. Giving is not about money. Meaningful presents can bring more joy! Be it Christmas, birthday or just a thank you presents.

The greenest of all green - give your time or talent 
Are you good at cooking, fixing cars, computers, playing a piano or knowledge of the city? Whatever it is that you are an expert in and what you enjoy doing, your natural talent can be a gift for your friend or  a loved one. You can give a guided tour of the city, cook and prepare a picnic basket full of goodies for your busy friends, give a computer lesson etc. Just try it, its a lot of fun. Sky is the limit!

My dad will get a voucher for spring cleaning of his summer home. I just need to role my sleeves up :-)
Can there be a greener present? Perhaps a prayer or an energy transmission. But I understand some might not be as keen on this option. This is more advanced stuff :-)

Upcycled - repurpose some of the many things you have 
For those that are more crafty and like to make use of old stuff (and lets face it we have heaps of stuff we don't use), this option might be an excellent opportunity for giving.

Some might think: "oh gosh, she reworks some of her old stuff as a present" and I say "oh, gosh why do people buy more of the stuff no one needs? All that quickly assembled 'made in China plasticky' stuff ". Don't you just prefer personalized presents that someone puts his time, thought and energy into?

Here is a repurposed necklace that I made for a girl

Conscious spending 
If you must spend, then why not consciously. Wide availability of eco and bio products exists. Ladies will surely appreciate some of the large number of genuine natural cosmetics. Other great green options might include vouchers for a massage, healing treatment or other experience. Also giving to others through charity on behalf of your friends has been a favorite option of many.

RELATED: Upcycle 


  1. I agree that we need to have a shift away from our spending. There is no greater gift than love although we do almost seamed conditioned into wanting material things. As the ‘Story of Stuff’ reminds us this is a short term fix not a way to long term happiness.

    We thought long and hard about what presents to get people at Christmas, with a focus on eco or experience present that hopefully in some cases help others and enable learning.

    Some of our presents were toys, and sure the children get lots of enjoyment out of them and it is mainly the volume of these toys that concerned us. Our son has loved to play with his presents particularly on his train track and toy kitchen. What better way is there to explore the world around them than by learning through play? A number of these toys are second hand and when they are bought new we focus on buying well made products that will last many years and many owners.

    Other presents were homemade chocolates, made by a small start company up based in Scotland run by an old friend, and some where organic food hampers for Christmas meals from Abel and Cole

    We also gave donations on behalf of people for charities; such as providing schooling for a child for a year through Oxfam or adopting an otter from the Chestnut Centre.

    A few years ago with some friends and family we agreed not to buy anything for each other as we already have too many things in our lives.

    Occasionally we misjudge things and have the odd difficult moments when expectations are not meet. For example when we bought our nephew and niece a ‘sponsor an otter present’ from the Otter and Owl sanctuary we all visit together. We could not help notice the disappointment in their faces that it was not yet another plastic toy they would play with.

    Really love the idea of giving up time and trading skills. Big fan of experiences over possessions, assuming all our basic needs are met. There are so many things we can do with the people that are in our lives that would be remembered much longer than another possession to fill up the shelves; maybe taking them out for the day to a favorite spot for a walk and a picnic, or a night out at the theater. Maybe you have a talent for fixing a computer or child care, or a voucher for one evening of babysitting.

  2. Thank you for this wonderful comment!

  3. Great article with useful ideas :-) Thanks!

  4. Glad to hear that, Fernando. Thank you for checking in :-)