I love the holiday season for so many reasons – holiday lights everywhere, a sense of magic, gluehwein, Christmas tree ornaments, and gift giving. I really enjoy giving gifts – finding something that is special and meaningful for friends and family, picking out fun and thematic gift wrap, and seeing the presents pile up. In my family, stocking stuffers are a big deal. Not $20 luxury candles, as some companies would have you think is appropriate for a stocking gift, but small things, like little Kleenex packets, lip balm, candies, and so on, all $5 or under. (Okay, that still adds up, depending on how large your stocking is!) Finding fun small things is almost more fun to me than big presents!

But over the years, as my brother and I have grown out of the toy phase of life (well, mostly!), and we become more aware of our impact on this planet, mad, frantic gift buying seems inappropriate. So this article from MindBodyGreen struck a chord with me, “Eco-Friendly Everything: How to Make Your Holiday Shopping A More Conscious Experience.”

Most of the gifts I give need to be mailed - California, Texas, New York, Germany...

Most of the gifts I give need to be mailed – California, Texas, New York, Germany…

Tip #1, “Remember that less is more,” is high on my list right now, since we moved last month. Packing up everything then getting rid of stuff we just don’t need makes this much more important to me – we don’t want stuff! I always try to pay attention to Tip #2 – I would never get anyone something that they couldn’t use or don’t need. I believe in shopping small anyway, as someone who sews – I would always rather support local artists if I can. The Mechanic and I like to do experiences. This year we are going to see “The Nutcracker” on Christmas Eve, plus, we have a big trip in January, and are saving up for that. nutcracker-2

Tip #6 is the tip I am trying out this year. We’ve talked about it for years – it would be better to donate to a worthy cause than to spend the money on more stuff. And the time seems right to support the organizations that work on things we value as a family, especially environmental protection and education. You get a donation, and you get a donation, and you get a donation! This could be fun! christmas-tree

It’s actually harder than I though to find The Right Organization, however! There are several really great organizations that protect the environment – Earthjustice, Environmental Defense Fund, Natural Resource Defense Council, The Nature Conservancy…. and on and on. Then there are educational organizations, everything from directly impacting children’s literacy, like Reading is Fundamental, to educational groups such as Southern Poverty Law Center that fights and educates about hate, intolerance and discrimination. I looked for tips and suggestions in “The Giving List,” to see what other, more active and aware people are suggesting.

Although I worry a bit that my family will be disappointed with only a few gifts this year, I hope they will be more touched and pleased when they read the cards notifying them that donations have been made in their names. Somehow it seems like a better legacy to leave behind. It could become the new Christmas stocking tradition – “Which organization is it this year?!” And maybe I’ll start sewing Christmas presents over the summer next year, to round out more conscious gift giving.

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