Photo: I don't buy Christmas presents

This Christmas, everyone on my list gets homemade soap! (Credit: Lindsay Coulter)

I don't buy Christmas presents.

But, ask any relative or friend of mine and they'll tell you (unprompted and unpaid) that I'm considerate and thoughtful. Some claim I make them feel like the worst friend ever. (I blame my mom who made my brother and I write scads of thank-you notes as soon as we could spell our names.)

I craft, DIY and bake in my sleep. That's how I get through the holiday season without hitting a mall. Here are a few more Queen of Green-approved ideas whether you're a rebel or a traditionalist;

Regifting is an eco-friendly form of recycling

Do you wonder if regifting carries an air of insincerity and thoughtlessness? I know guilt holds many people back. Get over it! There are times when it's appropriate, maybe even appreciated. It's couth to regift a book you've read. Maybe host a regifting-themed holiday exchange at work or with the family. Regifting is not just a way to get rid of bad gifts; it's also a way to find them new homes with people who appreciate them. A Golden Rule of Regifting: Regift unto others as you would have them regift unto you.

Subscribe to the Queen of Green digest

Benefits of a no-battery Christmas

Parents, you can breathe a sigh of relief. Toys that don't use batteries are actually crucial for early childhood education. Wooden shapes, blocks and puzzles boost critical thinking as well as problem-solving skills. Babies and children play longer with no-battery toys than ones that do everything for them. Ask well-meaning aunts and uncles to choose battery-free toys that allow children to think for themselves. You'll be doing the planet a favour since we generate over 100,000 tonnes of battery waste every year.

How will you spice-up gift giving this holiday season?

Lindsay Coulter, Queen of Green

November 30, 2011

Read more

Post a comment


Dec 19, 2014
3:47 PM

I have not purchased wrapping paper in years, reusing or re purposing bags/boxes with other family members, sewing reusable drawstring bags. This year, unemployment made the budget tight, so I started with hand-made gifts early and have used loads of fabric and yarns from my stash…to date I have gifts under my tree for 20 people and I have spent a total of $50…and had a lot of fun doing it.

Nov 15, 2013
10:05 AM

We ask for second hand goods and give experience based gifts (gift certificates for evenings out, days at the zoo ect..) We also wrap all of our gifts with newspaper, you really can get creative and make some beautifully wrapped gifts

Dec 18, 2011
2:54 PM

This year our church (very small congregation in a wee seaside town)ran a SEW-vember event over the month of November.we provided child care and sewing machines, and raided our local re-cycling centre and fabric importers for fabric scraps and bits and peices(in the months leading up). our vision was to encourage a new generation of 'make dont buy' families, simplifying the Christmas holiday and allowing it to be a celebration of what it really is the birth of Christ(it's in the title after all). we had 45 adults and 36 kids as well as babies, it was a realy community event. I would love to see this take off in other places. It was so great to be all together creating, and knowing that there were 45 other families out there who saw value in the handmade was very empowering and encouraging. Thanks for the thougtful blog post. Joy and peace to you.

Dec 12, 2011
8:02 PM

As the holidays approach, giant factories are kicking into high gear to provide us with piles of cheaply produced goods. This year, give the gift of genuine concern for other Canadians. Who says a gift needs to fit in a shirt box wrapped in paper? How about gift certificates from your local hair salon or barber? Gym membership? Who wouldn't appreciate getting their car detailed?

Are you one of those extravagant givers who think nothing of plonking down the cash on a Chinese made flat-screen? Perhaps that grateful gift receiver would like his driveway sealed, or lawn mowed for the summer, or driveway plowed all winter, or games at the local golf course.

There are a bazillion owner-run restaurants — all offering gift certificates.This isn't about big National chains — this is about supporting your home town Canadians with their financial lives on the line. Mom would LOVE the services of a local cleaning lady for a day or local crafts.

Plan your holiday outings at local, owner operated restaurants and leave your server a nice tip. And, how about going out to see a play or ballet at your hometown theatre?

When we care about other Canadians, we care about our communities, and the benefits come back to us in ways we couldn't imagine. THIS is the new Canadian Christmas tradition. This is a revolution of caring about each other, and isn't that what Christmas is about?

Dec 06, 2011
2:31 PM

Usually I say your presence is required not your presents.

And few 'gift' giving ideas…

• Dancing lesson and display • Bicycle service and ride of choice • A computer service – disk clean-up and other useful apps etc… • Swap two items of clothing with someone else • A postcard for their birthday during the coming year • A post card on the 15th of each month of where you are what you’re doing • Ring a friend's parents or someone close to them to tell them why you friend is so special! • Snack, brunch, food made from scratch for someone • Write a blog on how/why you appreciate them and how they contribute positively to life • Write a short rhyming poem for someone • Teach a joke in another language (or pick up line) • Clean someone’s office space • Take someone for ice cream • 10am friendly text each day for a week, in a week of their choice • Do a monolog on video or in person • Invite someone to come and stay at night at your place where you will cook and host – possibly breakfast in the morning? • Do an hour/day’s work for someone or their family – like gardening, house clean, other • Take someone for a walk in your street/local area and have a chat • Write a song about/for someone • Take someone star gazing until you see a shooting star together • Draw a picture, painting, macaroni sculpture, etc for someone on something they love • Give someone a massage (if they like massages) • A promise to do something honourable or promoting social justice in someone’s honour o Like doing Live Below the Line, no alcohol for a week, sugar free day(s), etc… • Share the best story you know or the best day of your life • Again any gift, talent, knowledge, service you can give to put a smile on someone’s face! • A donation to an organisation that makes a difference in the world so you can share with them their work – think Plan International, Oxfam or do your research to find more grassroots orgs that make you happy and are effective!

Imagine if a child sat on Father Christmas’ knee and ask for someone to write a song for them for Christmas…!

Dec 06, 2011
2:22 PM

I really agree with all this, but, to me it is still Christmas. Not a Holiday Season. Without Christmas there would be no holiday. Just my thoughts

Dec 06, 2011
1:46 PM

Last year for Christmas I made big batches of homemade soup and filled lunch-sized reusable containers with the 3 different varieties of soup. Then threw them all in the freezer. Anytime I had a Kris Kingle, work event, family event etc. I gave the gift of an easy, green homemade lunch. The frozen soup can be taken to work in the morning, is defrosted by lunch (so works great if you aren't near a fridge at work) and then can be heated quickly for a hot, healthy lunch. Then the container can be re-used to bring your lunch to work on other days. People just loved it!

Dec 04, 2011
1:33 PM

You sparked some ideas for me this holiday season. I think that going virtual for your gift is a great idea! No gift wrapping, no clutter. Maybe an e-book or online mag subscription. Thanks for the article.

The David Suzuki Foundation does not necessarily endorse the comments or views posted within this forum. All contributors acknowledge DSF's right to remove product/service endorsements and refuse publication of comments deemed to be offensive or that contravene our operating principles as a charitable organization. Please note that all comments are pre-moderated. Privacy Policy »