Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Having A "Green Christmas"

With all the efforts to conserve and live a more organic lifestyle, I have been giving thought to the idea of a "Green Christmas". Having a green Christmas can be a fun challlenge in your creativity. Each year, most of the gifts that we give are homemade. We don't agree with how commercialized the holiday has become. We also want the tradition established so that our children will grow up with the idea of making their gifts.

When thinking of gifts, I am one who looks more for the practical. I try to match up the person with a gift that I know that they will find alot of use for. A green Christmas gift, to me, is a gift that has a purpose or function that doesn't require energy sources such as batteries or electricity to be used for the gift to be enjoyed. There are many gift ideas to choose from. For someone who loves to cook, you might consider a potholders set with coordinating placemats and fabric napkins. Just about anyone a quilt would make a nice gift that they would be able to use for years to come. Using fleece to make a winter gear set of scarf, hat, and mittens with maybe a lap blanket would be great for a person who likes to attend football games. Made in their team colors would be a special touch. Make a spa basket using a recycled basket or container, filled with homemade soaps and candle with a luffa sponge included. For the guy who loves being outdoors, you can make fleece boot liners to keep their feet warm along with some winter gear. You can also use gathered feathers found on your walks to hand tie flies for the man who loves fishing. Making guys a gift basket of items for their car or truck is always a hit. You know how they love their vehicles! If you make your own jams, jellies and fruit butters, these in a gift basket make a wonderful gift also! Or for a snack lover, make a basket including an assortment of salsa, brownie mix, or other snacks that they would enjoy.

Ornaments can be anything recycled and decorated. Glittered pinecones, sprigs of natural vegetation such as red berries tucked into the tree branches, and raffia garlands can be beautifully made for the "green Christmas" tree. What about recycling old holiday cards to make your ornaments? Make your own ornaments out of homemade modeling clay and paint to decorate them. Applesauce-cinnamon ornaments are always a nice touch. You can also make a natural garland for your mantle by stringing dried apple slices intermingled with dried orange peel and little fabric sachets filled with whole cloves or other spices.

Cards can be handmade from just about any paper. Making your own recycled paper would make an extra special card. Try making your own paper, after forming the paper sheet sprinkle some wldflower seeds onto the paper before couching it to remove all the water. The couching process will press the seeds into the fibers of the paper. Let the paper dry thoroughly! In the spring, the paper from the card can be torn into pieces and planted to grow the flowers!
You can find all types of holiday designs for making rubber stamped cards, or try your own hand at carving a design using a potato and stamping you cards.

Gift wrapping is another wonderful exercise in creative recycling or re-purposing of other items. An old cookie tin can be painted and decorated to become a nice gift box. You can also take old cereal boxes and cover them with fabric or paint them to turn them into beautiful gift boxes. One popular green Christmas packaging idea is the fabric gift bags. These can be made any size needed. These make great treat bags for tucking some cookies or other holiday treats into for holiday party favors. If you make a favorite dry cookie mix, place it in a baggie, then tuck into the fabric gift bag, tie with raffia and add the recipe card for using the mix and you have both the gift wrap and the gift all in one. For clothing items, you can make fabric envelopes, which are similar to making a pillow sham. Tuck the clothing into a muslin fabric bag, then tuck it all into the fabric envelope. After the gift is opened and the clothing (or maybe a quilt!) is removed from the muslin bag, the muslin can be stuffed with a filler and stitched closed, becoming a pillow. The pillow is put back into the fabric envelope and the recipient now has a pillow for their couch, bed, or favorite chair!

Having a green Christmas is only as rustic or plain as you wish it to be. There are many way in which you can incorporate the green Christmas attitude and ideals while still having a very beautiful and colorful holiday! Look around at yard sales, thrift stores, and other resources to see what is available to you. The recycled packaging, decorations and gifts don't have to look recycled once finished. They can be as beautiful and as high quality as anything found in stores and sold as new. Your own creativity is the only thing holding you back. Go for it! Give it a try. If you see a nice fleece blanket that has minor holes in a portion of it, recycle that fabric to make mittens and other winter gear. Cut up a couple of them to make a fleece patchwork blanket. You may be amazed at how much use you can get from the recycled materials. You will also find satisfaction in knowing that you are providing others with gifts and holiday decorations that they will enjoy while still beince conservation minded.