Posted by: Aunt Magaidh | November 3, 2009

Countdown to going greener for Christmas

Yep, Halloween is gone, which means it’s time to think of the holidays.  Forgive me.

We’ve been trying to go greener for Christmas/Winter Solstice by making more of our gifts.  This means that throughout the year I make things.  (My beloved husband started calling me “Caroline” in honor of the mother in Little House on the Prarie – she was always making stuff.)

There are the bottles of fruit liqueur that are sitting in a dark corner of the pantry.  These are magic.  Fruit, sugar, brandy and vodka blend and age into these bottles of mysterious liquid.  When you uncork the bottle, you find a scent that reminds you of summer day with baking berries on the vines and a breeze from the ocean.  Or maybe it becomes an inspiration to build a fire and pour a small glass to sip on a chilly evening.  (My ren faire  fellow brewers are looking forward to comparing the tastes of a few when we open up the goodies next spring.  Patience is a virtue, I’m told, and if I hold on to these things til December, the virtue of these potions are mellowing.  At least that is the plan.)


Liqueur in the pantry - waiting to become gifts

There are the jars of jam, nestled in a cardboard box.  Ollallieberry, peach, lemon verbena are preserved in gem-like jars.  The Love Apple Preserve (tomato, vanilla, and clove) is served with roasted chicken or pork.  The Cinnamon Peach is perfect on fresh scones.  Now that we are in the crisp fall season, I watch for perfect pears…I have empty jars calling out to be filled.  (And I’m still wondering about making preserved lemons from the fruit in my garden.  Oh yeah, and those herbs to harvest…)

The knitting continues  and continues to pile up.  Baby booties and shawls have joined the hats and mittens.  I still have slippers and caps and more mittens to make.  (Sigh.)  But at least the projects allow me to do something I love, and even to try out new techniques and materials. Some of our beloved circle of friends now know to tell me favorite colors and point out items they like.  And I now have a tradition with my godchildren of asking what they want and am pointed to Harry Potter hats and warm slippers.  It’s good to know that they want these goodies and won’t end up hidden in a corner of the closet moldering away.   And as usual, my knitting circle is working on a few items that will go to a charity and hats to go in the group gift to the coffeeshop staff who serve my knitting circle on Sundays throughout the year.

As for those people who have everything already…My family plays with the idea of donating to selected charities in the name of our family that have all the stuff they can possibly use.  But usually we bail on that idea and give them consumables  – movie tickets, a gift certificate to a shop or restaurant.  But at least we work on supporting local theaters, shops and restaurants, which means our dollars stay in the community t paying someone’s wages.  Or maybe it’s getting some great locally produced chocolate or baked goods from the Farmer’s Market and adding it to a gift basket.  Yes, “greener” can include working these angles of thinking globally and acting locally.

Sometimes going greener is a matter of time vs. things.  In the past, my brother has asked what to get my teenage daughter.  I tell him an afternoon with him running amok in her favorite window shopping town.  They go to brunch, check out the shops, buy an ice cream, go to the movies.  They get some quality time together.  Last year our household was the recipients of a home cooked meal…some of our friends put together a box that had homemade ingredients for a homey and hearty Tortilla Soup dinner.  It was thoughtful and gave me a break from planning and shopping for a meal (or reinventing more leftovers) during the week between Xmas and New Years.

Going greener for giving also means reducing the amount of packaging for our gifts that we can.  Yes, we haven’t made the switch to not wrapping, but we are being more careful about it.  We try to find paper that isn’t plastic coated.  We reuse boxes and gift bags.  My grandmother – who thriftily saved her boxes and paper – would be proud.  I’m pleased because we saving resources and reducing our waste.  And remember, recycling doesn’t have to be ugly or tacky.  Adopt the Japanese tradition of wrapping gifts in fabric – but use your sewing remnants or scarves no longer in fashion.

One of my friends told me a story about what her friends and family do…they save and reuse wrapping, but especially they look forward to who is the lucky recipient of a beautiful piece of handmade wrapping paper that has been circulating for several years.  Each year it is carefully wrapped around a gift and tied into place.  No tape allowed.  What started as a thrifty saving of something beautiful has evolved into a holiday tradition in their circle of people who celebrate Christmas/Solstice/Hannukah.  I saw the paper.  It had taken on the patina of use and had become soft and suede-like.  The wrapping has become part of the gift each year.

So maybe you can come up with some ways to change your gifting habits that lead to being greener.  Drop me a suggestion.  But if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to get back to my knitting.




  1. I must have been picking up on your thought waves…I was folding paper bags this morning, and thought…I can use these as wrapping paper. I still have a lot of paper that I have bought in the past, so will use that for now…but I’m definitely not buying any more… I like the fabric idea…and I have TONS of that LOL XO

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