By Heidi DeCoux

Simple & Sustainable Holiday Gift Ideas


Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, Americans throw away about 25% more trash, on average, compared to any other time of the year.  Thats about 25 million tons of trash over the Holidays above and beyond what we already throw away.  Unfortunately most traditional gift-wrap is not recyclable due to the high metallic and dye content and most tissue paper is also not recyclable due to the short fibers.

During the holiday season, consider giving gifts, which are both environmentally friendly and creative.  For example, consider the gift of an experience.  An experience creates a memory, which lasts a lifetime and does not create more clutter in your home or create more trash.

Gifts of Experience
 Tickets to a play, concert or movie
 Gift Certificate for a Massage or other Spa Service
 Professional Lessons for Dance, Music, Singing, or the Arts
 A Professional Service such as a session with a Professional Organizer or a Feng Shui Consultant
 Gift certificate towards Travel

For smaller gifts, consider disappearing, or consumable gifts such as coffee, baked goods or flowers.  You could pair some fair trade organic coffee with some biscotti and chocolates.  To save time and money I recommend choosing one theme, such as coffee, and giving that same gift to several people.  One year, I gave cashmere socks made of recycled cashmere sweaters to several family members.  I simply tied a red bow around each pair of socks.  Some of my family members still remark Remember the year that Heidi gave us all luxurious cashmere socks?   No one seemed to mind that their gift was not unique to them.  Purchasing 10 of the same gift simplifies gift buying and often times, saves you money.

Once you select the perfect gift, consider your wrapping options.  Your gifts don’t need to be wrapped in several layers of tissue, boxes, paper, and bows.   Consider the following wrapping options:

 Children’s Art Work, Old Maps or Newspaper as Wrapping Paper
 Pinecones, Dried flowers, Buttons or Beads as Embellishments
 Make the Wrapping part of the gift such as Cookies in a Jar

As another wrapping option, consider not wrapping.  In her book, Simple Living, author Sister Josi Hobday describes a Native American tradition of giving unwrapped gifts.  According to Native American tradition, wrapped gifts are shrouded in secrecy, while unwrapped gifts provide a “flesh-to-flesh” connection and a sense of unity between giver and receiver.

Whatever you choose to give this year, remember the 3 R’s: Reduce, Recycle, Reuse.  Putting thought, creativity and love into your gifts is more important than how much you spend or how many layers of wrapping you use.  As they say, good things come in small packages. Add to that, and “less packaging”.

Give a little bit, give a little bit of your love to me. – Supertramp

We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.  Churchill

Heidi DeCoux is a speaker, professional organizer and green living enthusiast specializing in home organization.  She also publishes Life Made Simple e-Magazine.  Heidi energizes her readers lives by simplifying their homes and schedules.  For more info, free tips on how to find more time in your day, and to receive her FREE e-Solutions Kit: The Fast & Easy Way to Get & Stay Organized, visit