Whether it’s less in our wallets these days or the new chic of being cheap…uh, I mean thrifty…choosing “green” gifts for the holidays can be economical in dollars as well as in time, so they make for great last-minute choices. And eco-friendly gifts can make you and the recipient feel good, a reminder that the holidays are not about consumption, but about giving from the heart and remembering lasting values, such as family togetherness and even stewardship of the earth.
Here are a few last-minute, quick and easy “green” gift ideas:
1. Local for later. Beyond the obvious appeal to shop local to reduce gas consumption and support our community, also give “local for later” -- buy gift certificates at local restaurants and shops now that can be used later. This not only extends the holiday enjoyment for friends and family, but also helps local businesses during their after-holiday drop in sales. Sometimes holiday gift card purchases come with bonuses. For example, buy $50 gift card by Dec. 24 at in Bellmore and receive a free $10 gift card.
2. Beverages, bottles & corks. Local in the case of a brewery or winery does not mean our own backyard, but close enough in reduced shipping costs ,supporting nearby sustainability efforts and available in local stores. Long Island wineries known for eco-friendly practices include Jamesport, Laurel Lake, Macari, Shinn Estate, and Wolfer Estates. For those who prefer beer, the Blue Point Microbrewery produces such offerings as Rastafar Rye available at Bellmore Beverage, for example. In Baiting Hollow, there’s Liv Vodka, made from 100 percent potatoes, available at and liquor stores in Bellmore, in Wantagh or M & J Wines & Spirits in East Meadow. After the spirits are consumed, be sure to recycle the bottles, or consider reusing the bottles and corks in crafts.
3. Living gifts. No, I am not talking about giving puppies or kittens, which is an adoption needing consent. I am talking about plants -- everything from potted Christmas trees and holly bushes that can be planted outside to garden-variety (no pun intended) houseplants perhaps sporting a big bow. Try in Bellmore or Home Depot in East Meadow.
4. Books. As a writer, I admit my personal preferences come to play here, but sometimes there’s nothing better than a good book, a real book, not a download. Why not consider giving a well-worn classic from your own library, particularly to your children or a good friend, inscribing it with your own thoughts about what the storyline or characters meant to you? That’s recycling at its best!
5. Chocolates & other candy. If you’re not one to try your hand at homemade fudge, at least avoid the imported (long-distance shipping required) candies in favor of those made right here in the US and if possible by local confectioners, and purchase them as close by as possible. Russell Stover/Whitman Sampler comes to mind, for example, the largest manufacturer of boxed chocolates in North America, from the single-serve Maple Fudge Pecan Roll to the oversized assorted chocolate gift boxes to be found this year at our local CVS. Or try local shops that stock handmade and other unusual candy finds, such as in Bellmore or in Wantagh.
6. Tickets. Whether to concerts, sporting events, Broadway, local movies or shows, purchasing tickets online is easy to do last minute, and makes for a great future outing and time spent with loved ones. In most cases, you can print the tickets out at home or arrange to have them waiting at the box office, saving shipping costs and the fossil fuels burned in the process.
7. Lessons. There are two ways to orchestrate this gift. Purchase a few introductory lessons -- maybe drum lessons at Music Emporium in North Bellmore or the in Seaford , or home-cooking lessons offered by Chef Lia in North Bellmore, for example. Or, give your own lessons to those you love, anything from teaching your children a favorite family recipe to painting (either home décor or art, of course), depending on your skills and interests, which also make this the best gift to give -- the gift of time.
8. The Gift of Time. For this ultimate gift, the options are endless. I remember when my oldest son was two, my husband and I read him “Twas the Night Before Christmas,” and it became a tradition every Christmas Eve for many years thereafter. Some other ideas? How about a special movie time together, “It’s a Wonderful Life” comes to mind, or the ecological eye-opener “The Story of Stuff,” or offer to do something, maybe wash the car or remove snow from the car or polish the silverware, whatever makes life a little easier for the other seems in the spirit of the holiday.
Two After-Holiday Ideas:
1. Responsibly toss old stuff. If the family lottery winner sprung for a huge flat screen TV or Santa puts Kindle Fires or iPads in everyone’s stockings, don’t forget to responsibly to get rid of the old stuff you’re replacing, electronics in particular. Try a nearby Best Buy, which recently eliminated its $10 recycling fee for screen electronics, and welcomes drop off of every other type of device, including DVD players, computer monitors, audio and video equipment. Try Apple for recycling of Mac products with the promise that if the item has monetary value, you will receive an Apple Gift Card for the amount.
2. Donate used clothes and other items. in Bellmore welcomes used clothing, toys and other items. There are local coat drives, cellphone drives, and other places to donate, some all year long. Check back on Patch throughout the year for sources.
It’s always nice (not naughty) when we do things that help us avoid coal in our stockings (just like avoiding burning coal helps the planet)! Take a look at past columns on "green" and for more ideas, and be sure to come back in early January for the annual “Green Year in Review” (see ).
Editor’s Note: The author, among other jobs as a freelance marketing and writing consultant, heads up marketing at Built Well Solar Corp., Bellmore’s well known residential and commercial solar energy design and installation company.