The recipe for an eco-conscious, clutter-free Christmas

November 26, 2018

’Tis the season to edit the kids’ toy basket. There are days when I feel like I’m drowning in toys and parts of toys. There are so many hidden gems that have not surfaced in months that I could regift them, and my children likely would not recognize them as their own.

This holiday, I’ll be striving to give things with forethought and meaning to the kids and kids at heart in my life.

I was struck by a post on social media recently that reminded me that five minutes of plastic glee equals 1,000 years in a landfill (or floating around the planet). What we do now for the kids today affects their great-grandkids and many generations after.

I feel very strongly about seeking out nonplastic gifts and, at the same time, being mindful of the impact textiles and dyes have on the planet.

Although its rank has been debated, clothing is reported to be the second largest polluter on the planet.

We typically wear only 20 percent of our clothes 80 percent of the time. Again, this leads back to the idea of thoughtfully purchasing fewer items of higher quality that will go the distance.

San Francisco fashion label Cuyana’s philosophy of “Fewer Better” caught my eye in a recent catalog, and it’s made me examine my wardrobe, along with the contents of my home. It’s made me better appreciate specially curated shops such as Modern General, whose slogan “Nothing you don’t need” highlights this idea of edited consumption.

KonMari and Swedish death cleaning, two methods of home organization, follow similar principles of clearing out all the items that don’t bring joy or absolute usefulness and not reintroducing clutter.

As I strive not to introduce new things to my home, I think about Christmas and not wanting to inundate someone else’s home with unwanted and environmentally unfriendly stuff.

While I understand the appeal of stretching a dollar this season, I’d like to think outside the box (and box store) when gift giving. This holiday weekend, I revisit ideas for meaningful presents that make the gift-giving experience feel more present.

There are many ways to show gratitude without fighting the crowds for a mass-produced bargain that are still friendly to your wallet.

Even the simplest gifts seem extra special when presented in a beautiful way, so put some time into presentation even if you’re just making up your own gift certificate for a back rub.

Here are a few suggestions in the spirit of giving:

• Take a friend out for a meal, coffee or glass of wine. The experience of spending time together face to face is rewarding and a welcome change in this age of text messaging.

• Wine is a popular hostess gift. Make it more personal by selecting a vintage from a region he or she has visited or from a year of a special occasion, like a wedding.

• Photos are often piled deep in our smartphones and computers in lieu of the real thing. Print out a favorite photo and frame it for someone you love to be displayed where it will be enjoyed every day.

• Set up a volunteer experience for you and your family outside of just the holidays. Your time and effort are gifts you give others, and the experience you share will be rewarding and set an example for the young ones in your life.

By committing your time throughout the year, you teach that generosity is a year-round mindset.

• Make a donation to a charity or cause that speaks to the recipient’s interests.

• Offer your services as a gift. For example, a massage therapist can offer a one-hour session or a chef can offer a cooking lesson.

• Make a playlist or CD mix of songs that have special meaning for you and a friend or loved one.

• Put pen to paper. Write a poem about your dearest friend in your best hand and frame it. If you can’t find the words, then find an excerpt or quote from a book or online that speaks to the recipient.

• Write a rave review of the service someone has provided you, and send it to the boss. In an era of complaints, compliments could lead to a raise or promotion.

• Give a magazine subscription that covers a hobby or interest. They are often $10 to $24 and encourage the reader to take time out every month.

• Give a membership to a museum or gym that will provide a year’s worth of stimulation and gets people out of the house and engaging with society.

• Cook something. Bake cookies or make jam. Cooking for pleasure is a labor of love that’s most appreciated. Plus, because it is consumable, it won’t clutter up the house.

• Shop locally. Find something made by an area artisan or from a friend’s shop or gallery. What stays local grows local, so support your neighbors and community.

Bizia Greene is an etiquette expert and owns the Etiquette School of Santa Fe. Send your comments and conundrums to hello@etiquettesantafe.com or 505-988-2070.

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