12 days of green shopping: No buy gifts

Photo: istockphoto.com/Russell Tate
We all want to give gifts at the holiday season but we seem to have lost the notion that it's the thought that counts. As we sink deeper into debt, more and more of us are reconsidering the whole gift giving scenario. Here are some ideas from the Network of Spiritual Progressives for no-buy gifts for the season: Gifts of time Wrap up a handmade certificate promising to do one of the following things, or something else that would be especially meaningful to the recipient:
  • Do a home repair or a home improvement project for someone
  • Take someone's car in for service if they don't have time, or perform the maintenance for them yourself
  • Give someone a massage or facial or other spa treatment
  • Cut someone's hair, if you have that skill
  • Go somewhere together
  • Help with wedding planning or managing some other large project
  • Run errands for someone
  • Help someone move to a new home or to transport large or heavy items
  • Prepare a meal for someone, or cook a meal together
  • Help in someone's garden
  • Offer landscaping services to someone
  • Help someone care for an elderly relative
  • Videotape or take photos at an event important to the recipient
  • Babysit for new parents
  • Teach a skill you have
  • Redecorate someone's room.
  • Shovel their walkway
  • Handmade gifts
  • Make fudge or their favourite cookies
  • Knit or crochet something for someone
  • Make a scrapbook or photo album for someone
  • Convert someone's old video reels into a DVD
  • Share your own produce
  • Make handmade soap or candles
  • Share a talent (write a song for someone, a poem, a painting, etc)
  • Create a handmade guide to something--for example, a booklet of movie recommendations or book reviews that you have written
  • Frame your own artwork, give it to someone you care about
  • Make your own cards from recycled paper
  • Other ideas
  • Leave a recorded message on someone's phone
  • Give something you don't use anymore
  • Buy a used book, and write on the inside cover why you chose that book
  • Give away a valued possession
  • Do some community service together with the family
  • Sponsor a child in the name of a loved one.
  • Donate to their favourite conservation organization
  • "For years I've run "holiday stress" groups and heard first hand about the depression and despair that afflicts tens of millions of Americans, either because they can't afford to purchase the goods that are advertised in the media and set a standard of consumption beyond their means, or because they purchase and deepen their personal debts, or because they don't receive the quality or quantity of gifts that they've come to believe reflects how much they are really loved. But there are better ways to show love besides giving things. The shopping frenzy between Thanksgiving and Christmas effects everyone—I've seen it undermine Chanukah as well as Christmas, and afflict those whose only connection to the holidays is the purchasing of material things...Time is more scarce and more precious than goods—so this is a gift that shows real generosity. And not using up more of the earth's resources is a gift to the earth's environment that will yield fruit in the years ahead." Rabbi Michael Lerner Rabbi Lerner is editor of Tikkun and chair of the Network of Spiritual Progressives and author of The Left Hand of God.