Now that it is November I don't feel so bad about talking about Christmas!! As you know, we are starting our countdown to a greener Christmas with the topic of gifts. So how am I going to be greener with my gift giving? Well, I think that, as a family, we are fairly restrained about our gifts anyway. We don't have a lot of money so our Christmas budget is pretty modest. Several years ago we all agreed with friends and family to only buy presents for each others children and only on their birthdays, not at Christmas (with the exception of our parents). I think at one point I was buying gifts for about 14 children, it was just getting a bit silly, and my kids were getting tons of stuff that they really didn't need (and that we didn't have room for anyway!) Now though, with their birthdays spread out over the year I can take more care over their birthday gifts, and at Christmas I can devote all my attention to my own children. As much as I would like to be able to say that all my gifts will be handmade - I just can't. With 7 & 12 year old boys, it's probably going to be a mixture of computer games and lego! We still don't spend a huge amount on them and I try to make sure that everything I do buy is something that they really will appreciate and use - not the latest must-have toy that they will get bored of after 5minutes.
For our parents though, we do give "greener" gifts. For the last few years we have made our own hampers for them. I love this idea, as you can tailor it exactly to the person you are giving to, so we included things like, luxury hot chocolate, biscuits, speciality teas, pots of jam - things that we knew they would like and would use. I would either buy a basket to put the items in or decorate a box - either of which could be kept and reused. This year I am knitting - scarves for our mums and socks for our dads (if I can manage to knit fast enough, that is!) plus they will get the latest school photos of the boys.
I think that the most important thing is to just be more mindful of what you give. People really don't "need" so much stuff. Giving something that has had real thought put into it is so much nicer than just spending money. Making or buying handmade items is a wonderful idea and, as we all know, the internet is a fabulous resource for this - tutorials for making just about anything, and places like Etsy or Folksy if you want to buy something unique.
So, what sort of gifts will you be giving this year?