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Column: How to have a reusable, reclaimable Christmas


It’s the last weekend before Christmas and I’m finally back with some tips for making your Christmas a little more green this year. I apologize for the delay and know that Christmas is right around the corner. There are many different illnesses going around and it seems as though I have somehow managed to catch them all. I’ve been under the weather for several weeks, but now I’m back, and ready to share some eco-friendly gift ideas with you.

I have found that a lot of people prefer experiences to gifts. Many parents that I have talked to say how their kids already have enough “stuff” and how the last thing they need is more “stuff” from everyone for Christmas. So, instead of adding to the clutter and buying things that will just end up in a landfill, you can gift a membership or tickets to someplace the family would like to go, so the family can go on a trip.

You should first consult the grownups to make sure that you are gifting to a place they can easily travel to and that they would enjoy, but some local ideas include Pioneer Playhouse, The Great American Dollhouse Museum, Windjammer Fun Center, Bowlarama Lanes, Louisville Zoo, Cincinnati Zoo, Kentucky Science Center, Explorium of Lexington and the Living Arts and Science Center in Lexington. You can also buy tickets to concerts, shows and ball games as gifts.

By giving experiences, you are allowing them to go do something together that they might not normally get to do. This can often work out to be less money per person than if you were going to buy each person a separate gift.

To go along with the idea of giving experiences instead of stuff I recently saw an idea where you can give kids a box of adventure, though to be honest I’d appreciate a box of adventure too and I think this box would also be appropriate for adults. In the box are 12 envelopes, each one with a different month of the year written on it. Inside each envelope is an activity that you can do together. This type of gift does a few things that I like, it makes sure that you carve out time each month for a family activity, it makes the Christmas gift last for a whole year and it can spread out the financial part of Christmas. The activities can be as elaborate and expensive or simple and inexpensive as you choose. I am working on one for my nieces and it includes things like going to get ice cream, going to the movies, having a picnic at the park, and going out to eat. It also includes things that we are going to do anyway but this way it will make sure we do them, like go to a Pioneer Playhouse play and go play mini golf.

Another way to gift an experience is something that my best friend and I started doing three years ago. We realized that we don’t really need gifts from one another. While the gesture is nice and it’s always nice to give and get presents, we realized we would much rather spend time together, so we started buying each other concert tickets. I buy her ticket and she buys mine and that way we know we will get to spend some quality time together. That’s better than any gift I could have gotten from her. It’s one of my favorite holiday traditions.

Another holiday idea that my family is trying out for the first time this year is that all gifts must be made or bought second hand. This way, we are giving items a second life and keeping them out of the landfill. This is the first time we have done this, but I’m really excited. It will give us a chance to practice some of our hobbies and also allow us to give personalized gifts.

I swear I’m done buying socks and bath sets for people when I know they will just sit around the house taking up space and then be thrown away or donated. The whole idea behind this is to give meaningful gifts that the person can use.

I’m getting a chance to work on my knitting skills and my husband is working on his woodworking skills. We are also doing this “Secret Santa” style so we can put all of our energy and focus into one gift, which makes it way less stressful.

My final tip is all about the wrapping. You can purchase recycled wrapping paper, but an even more environmentally friendly choice is to buy or make reusable cloth bags. Wrapping paper is a one-and-done type of item, but these bags can be used again and again. We started using reusable gift bags a few years ago. Since then there are many of them floating around and we get them given back to us, so we keep them until the next gift-giving occasion and our family members do, too. This way, we are reusing bags and not purchasing new gift bags every year and they hold up better than paper gift bags.

In my husband’s family, we have a neat tradition where we have several orange gift boxes and each time they are used as a gift box for an occasion, we write in the lid the date and who gave it to whom and what the occasion was. It is a nice little piece of history and these boxes have been around for more than 20 years — with the help of some tape.

I hope your holiday season is merry and bright.


This article was originally published by Amanda Wheeler,

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