So many traditions at this cold, dark time of year involve gifts – expressing love, generosity, abundance, creativity, and human connection.
The dark side is that gifts can also mean buying more stuff – and, according to the U.N. panel that studies global natural resources, consumption is the biggest driver of global environmental degradation of all types: deforestation, toxic pollution, climate change, mining, fisheries, and the extinction of species. Buying things makes up 70 percent of the US Gross Domestic Product, and it reaches a peak during holiday season
How can we decouple gift-giving and consumption? There are so many ways. Our staff pulled together ideas and good readings to spur your own creative thoughts. Do you have ideas and readings to share? Please email Rebecca Bailey at email@example.com and we’ll add them to this page!
Don’t Give a Thing
Over the course of our lifetime, we will spend a total of 3,680 hours or 153 days searching for misplaced items. The research found we lose up to nine items every day—or 198,743 in a lifetime. Do we need more things? Here are some gifts that are not “things.”
- Read some great ideas about making a gift of spending time with or for someone in a special way, including how to “wrap” these gifts
- Host a personalized and themed activity, meal, or experience at home
- Give a date to go on a Valley Quest
- Gift certificates to local restaurants and local arts or recreation venues
Give a donation to a cause that you know someone cares about
- A “Charity Gift Card” that allows the recipient to choose where it goes (one example)
- A gym membership
- Online fitness classes
- Athletic gear – see if you can source it used, such as at Gear Again
Give a Better Thing
Make it yourself
- The internet is stuffed with DIY gift ideas, and here’s one set
- Need tools? Check out the Claremont Makerspace, where you can share the tools you need
Buy it local
- Patronizing a locally owned business invests your money in our local economy!
Support local makers – Visit local galleries or holiday artisan shows
Buy “pre-owned” – Get inspired by this recent New York Times opinion piece by Brattleboro-base writer Annaliese Griffin
- LISTEN Thrift Stores in Lebanon, Canaan, and White River Junction – sales support LISTEN’s work in the community
- Cover Home Repair’s used home goods store – sales support LISTEN’s work in the community
- Consignment shops – Locally owned businesses selling selected used items
Raid your attic – Who knows what treasures are waiting to be regifted?
Raid your bookshelf – Give a book you have read and loved and don’t need to hold on to
Support inclusive business ownership – Buy from businesses owned by BIPOC, queer people, veterans, women, the formerly incarcerated … you get it. Whomever you want to show some extra support for.
De-plasticize – Check out this “Plastic-Free, Zero-Waste Holiday Gift Guide” from Beyond Plastics!
Share Your Ideas!
Our staff chimes in!
Want to share an idea or photo? Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Some of my favorite ‘unconventional gifts’ are:
– gift certificates to local businesses (boutiques and restaurants) which helps the local community and helps get my friends out to do a thing
– gift certificates for my time (I’ll give someone an hour or two where I’ll just help them with whatever they need)
– free childcare so parents can go do something they otherwise wouldn’t be able to do
– donations of time and/or food at a local pet shelter
– donations of baby formula and diapers to the local food shelf (did you know diapers can’t be bought with food stamps?)
– donation of blood with the Red Cross
I like using my hands but don’t have special skills. I do have a sense of humor, which makes collage a great medium for me. Last winter I made my giftees personal notebooks with covers of collages stuck on by modgepodge. Low VOCs and good magazine recycling opportunity!
From Our Community Members
– My favorite, of course, is giving food. Homemade food items allow you to invest time and effort personally in a gift that has meaning and will impart pleasure. Everything from jams and jellies, chutneys and preserves, liqueurs, plates of cookies, fruitcakes, homemade granola, herbs you’ve grown and dried yourself, homemade dry rubs for meat, infused oils, flavored vinegars, chocolate truffles, homemade pasta, to homemade bread. The possiblities are endless.
– Know a gardener? Give seeds!
– Another, non-food possiblity is to donate a registration fee to an online course or conference since it looks like we’ll still be Zooming for the foreseeable future.