Check out what some folks in Ashland, Oregon are doing. They
hold an Abundace Swap where you bring things that you don't want any
more and can exchange them for other things. It's a great idea if you
have a group of people who want to buy less this Christmas. Read more here.
Buy Nothing Christmas is about reducing consumption, and one
ways that you can do that is torecycle or reuse old things that still
have value. Check out this neat project
in New York that has come up with an innovattive way to recycle things.
Can you start something similar in your city or town?
Homemade gifts are an excellent way to tell someone close to
you that you love them, but allows you to disengage from the consumer
attitudes that have come to dominate this wonderful season. For a great
list of homemade gift ideas click here,
these will get you off to a great start. Some of the best are foods
made with home grown ingredients, or the homemade hand warmer. These
can also be used to relieve aching muscles after a hard day of
shoveling snow, and they do the job very well!
Many people can remember getting
homemade toys for Christmas when they
were young, but that really doesn't happen anymore. If you are
buying nothing for Christmas, why don't you make your kids a toy
instead? It's rewarding for you to build a skill and your kids will
love it! Check out this easy tutorial for how to build a hobby horse
for your child.
Do you have any great homemade gift ideas? Send them
to us, we would love to hear your great ideas.
There are many different ways to give gifts without buying,
and some of
them are listed below to help you celebrate your Buy Nothing Christmas.
Many of the following ideas were borrowed from Bill McKibben's Hundred Dollar
Holiday and from the Center for
a New American Dream.
From a recent news
story: Giving More by Giving Less
It takes only a bit of creative thinking to come up with
alternatives to excessive consumerism. Some ideas:
* Students at Trinity Western University [Langley, BC,
Canada] set up a free store, bringing things they didn't need and
trading with each other.
* One family does a "make or bake" among siblings,
exchanging names and producing one homemade gift each.
* Some families now include sponsoring a child overseas
or providing a goat or chickens for a micro-enterprise as a means of
teaching their children to reach out to others. Or they help out at a
soup kitchen or deliver Christmas hampers together.
* Time is often a bigger gift than money. Creating
coupons that offer free babysitting or housecleaning, a neck massage or
a special treat can mean more than a stocking stuffer.
* Offer to teach someone a skill you have.
* Write a poem, tell a story, draw a picture or take a
photograph and present it in a creative way.
* Give fairly traded coffee, tea or chocolate, get
beautiful items at garage sales or buy gifts from shops that support
artisans in poorer countries.
* Make your own cards from recycled paper.
* Avoid commercial wrapping paper, ribbons, bows and
tape, which are not recyclable, and opt for gift bags, tea towels or
nice boxes, which are eco-friendly.
Give seeds. Explain how best to grow them; for
provide a recipe or two. - Bonnie
Give seed balls for guerilla gardening, along with the
making them. - Bonnie Phillips
Give compost to newbie gardeners. - Bonnie
Make a personalized collage using recycled materials. This
is a fun
group project. - Bonnie Phillips
A hand made recipe book would be a good idea. A
compilation of old family recipes from your family, and your friends'
families. Start collecting them in the summer and take your time and
edit and make them real nice and sturdy (to withstand the heavy use!) -
Books on tape - this is great if you have two or
three people on your list that will enjoy the same book, it only costs
time! A compilation CD of the choir my husband and I sing in. Make a puppet
theater - paint a white sheet, cut a hole out for the stage, and
hang in hall/door with a tension rod). If I get ambitious, I'm thinking
of producing a video for distant family members of our kids'
exploits in the past year. My husband is a composer, and he is planning
to compose theme songs for some of our family members. - Noelle
Adopting a polar bear, snow leopard or giant panda in the
name of all my friends and family members from World Wildlife Fund. - Matt
One year I made mini loaves of quick bread. I think
it was pumpkin bread. One could make cranberry or whatever you like. I
wrapped the loaves and placed them in small baskets that I picked up at
yard sales over the summer months. I added packets of instant spiced
cider, cocoa, or tea, and festive napkins. I then tied it up with a
raffia bow along with a recipe card for the bread. Another year I made
key chains out of beads that matched the color of each persons car. - Lisa
Well, our buy-nothing circle spread just a little wider
this Christmas, and I'd like to share a few highlights. They include
some "transition" gift ideas too, for those who can't handle BNC just
- One friend saved us a lot of money by simply handing us some RAM for
our PC. He knew we needed it and he had extra. It was great!
- Two family members got creative and made by hand an "action figure"
of my husband and a marionette of me! Of course, this wouldn't work if
the individuals didn't happen to be so artistically talented, but what
unique and personal gifts!
- Another friend who makes pottery simply gave us a lovely bowl more
special than anything we could have bought.
- Parents bought us necessities that we would have had to buy anyway.
- We made writing paper with hand-drawn silly little doodles
and hand-folded envelopes for some friends.
- For most of those who weren't ready to move to a buy-nothing
Christmas, we bought organic herbal teas and fair-trade coffees... they
don't add to the clutter because they're enjoyed and gone, and they
support sustainable businesses!
Small steps ... but in the right direction. - Sara Parks Ricker
Brilliant website and ideas. You get my full support. As an
another idea, try www.oxfamunwrapped.com. It allows you to send a
gift to the 3rd World and depending on your budget you can buy
chickens, blankets, radios, right up to a travelling theatre! Our 10
year old son has 'traded in' some store gift vouchers to buy a goat. We
have sent friends and families christmas 'gifts'from this site. Best
wishes - Chris, Nottingham, UK
At our house, we try to make all Christmas gifts. That
means that December is a flurry of activity as our children make salt
dough ornamments and then paint them to give to teachers and other
adult friends. Last year, one boy made playdough, and one made a crayon
ball to give to the other. For our friends, we've painted white candles
with Christian symbols; these have become tradition. For our extended
families, we made books with old pictures and memories. Our children
especially love hand-made gifts; in this age where everything is
plastic, they relish the idea of love in a sweater. - Molly
I have been going down to my local recycling centre
to see what's on offer. To my surprise, I found 10 glass coffee
containers. Which are now glassed painted and filled with goodies for
kids. - Sophia
A couple of years ago I did a calendar for the
family with everyone's photos and birthdays. That was a big hit. -
Last year we had a cookie exchange instead of a big
party for work. Everyone brought cookies or treats - whatever their
specialty was (one person made tree ornaments instead). We RSVP'd so we
knew how many cookies to make, one for each person because we had so
many people. We all went home with piles of cookies and treats. It was
great, and so much fun. - Annika Sangster
What about bumper stickers? I'd love to puchase some of
these posters in bumper sticker format. Available? - schrills Editors response:Hmm... I'm already feeling like we
have too much stuff on our website. Would we sell the bumper stickers
on the Buy Nothing Christmas website? Maybe start off with a colour
printout of your favourite poster, laminate it and then glue it on your
bumper. I know, sounds dumb, and like a lot of work. But the more time
you spend creating your own world, your own messages, the more alive
you become. I can help with re-formatting graphics or text for
printouts. Let me know how it goes. If you have some success with
bumper stickers, let me know and I'll try to spread the word. Best,
I'm going to give myart this Christmas. It
gave me the motivation to finish the production of a demo CD. The first
copies will go to my family and friends. —Gabriel
Give Linux for Christmas! It's free and it works
like a charm! These days, distributions include not only the operation
system that runs your computer, but applications such as word
processing, spreadsheets, picture and sound editing, etc. And give a
hand installing it. It's not that it's too difficult, but some people's
tech-savvyness is rather limited. —Gilles Pelletier
We have just launched a new scheme in the UK called Wedding List
Giving Ltd. It allows the prospective bride and groom to choose a
charity and ask guests to donate towards the "gifts of their choice."
Hannah Crouch [Editor's note: the site includes charities like the
Alzheimers Society, Amnesty International, Cancer Research UK,
Children's Express, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, Oxfam, Tearfund
Just try make a spiritual gift, not material, not an
object. I prefer doing something - singing a song, writing a
poem - for a person. Plus a little beatiful card, because most people
want to "have something in the hands," it's just a habit. —Matania,
Great site, lovely idea. Some friends of mine have a jumble
exchange; it works like this. Everyone brings clothes, books,
ornaments or toys that they don't really use any more. It all gets laid
out on tables or a tarpaulin in the garden (or in the house if you have
room). Everyone picks out what they want (no money changes hands). At
the end there's a "grand holding up" where everyone is shown what is
left. If no-one wants it, it goes to a charity shop (thrift store).
Usually there are three or four big bags left over to go to the charity
shop. Another idea is to write out some nice poetry in calligraphy
style and frame it. To avoid buying the frame, you could make it out of
driftwood or broken china mosaic, or pebbles. —Yvonne Aburrow
We bought wax and made homemade candles. My husband carved
stamps, we made our own paper and made greeting cards on recycled
paper. Most of all, we vow to get the Christmas spending craziness
under control and pay attention to our families and each other instead
of the mall! If you still want to give a gift, there are so many more
worthy causes than supporting the manufacture of plastic toys. I work
for a nonprofit organization that supports grassroots groups working to
live sustainably, preserve biodiversity, and gain a voice in their
future. See www.greengrants.org.
in general, see www.gwob.org—Erika
For your husband: Go to your favourite market or second
hand shop and get a nice frame. With your most creative writing, write
your wedding vows. — Maud Ray
I usually make fudge (it helps to find a really good
recipe) and put it in tins. I also buy old frames for cards, etc., I
think the person would enjoy. I don't buy for anyone that is not either
my child or parents/inlaws. And other than for the kids, I refuse to
pay a lot. The cheaper it is the more personal it is sometimes.—
Shelley, Prince Edward Island, Canada
For me, environment and peace issues are interrelated,
inseparable even. Some gift purchases help the environment and peace:
Give people CFL bulbs to save energy. Give Fair Trade coffee, tea and
chocolate made in people-friendly and earth-friendly ways. Buy recycled
paper for people. If possible pay someone to buy clean electricity
which is still more expensive than dirty electricity. And one of our
special concerns: Purchase a Peace Bond from the Nonviolent Peaceforce
which even now has peace teams in Sri Lanka. "Upon Maturity the Bearer
will See a Large International Team Trained for Nonviolent Conflict
Intervention Around the World". Go to NonviolentPeaceforce.org
to learn more. Keep up the good work. — A. Palmer, Swarthmore,
Perhaps an alternative to department stores is Ten Thousand Villages
which provides vital, fair income to Third World artisans by marketing
their handicrafts and telling their stories in North America. This
alternative emphasizes the fair distribution of wealth while still in a
consumerism context. — Shalom, Carl
Make a sweater from yarn found at goodwill/used clothing
store.— Kristina Giggz
Look through your (and your kids') old clothes, cut out
squares of fabrics they will remember, and make a little wall hanging
or pillow or stuffed toy or whatever. Pick a nice quote or scripture
verse and write it up in calligraphy or a nice handwriting. —
When i was little my parents always recorded a tape of me
singing christmas caroles and/or reading stories for my grandparents
and other family that lived far away. When i got older i started to
make little comics for my friends, that were about us and things we had
done. always with an added twist and some inside humour. This is
totally fun to do- even if you're drawings are crappy. i think that
this year i will write stories for my friends and family telling them
why i love them! — T.B.
Make pillows or stuffed animals. Cut out soft pieces of
felt and hot glue them on to the pillow to personalize them with
messages or make cute faces. — Kaitlin
Give something you don't use any more. A sweater
that you only wore once; a set of drinking glasses you forgot you
owned. Clean them up and give them as gifts. I have found all sorts of
things in my apartment that I have no need for, but know someone who
would appreciate and enjoy it! — Jessica
When someone asks what I want for Christmas I tell them,
"Peace on Earth. Goodwill for all". If they explore the idea further
(usually with, "No, really. What do you want?") I tell them to pick a
charity and give to them whatever they would have spent on me. It makes
me feel good that someone who really needs it is getting something. And
... It always fits! — Bill Budenholzer
Babysitting coupons for the new parents. Grow your
own veggies, can or freeze them and give them away at
Christmas/Solstice. Spend more time with your family and friends...when
you're dead you won't be able to. Decide as a family to work less
hours, spend less and have more time together. Shovel the sidewalk for
your neighbour. Plant trees. — Lee
Make a small drawing of your select person's living room
or other room in their house and give it to them. — Julian van Mossel-Forrester
I have been giving more gifts that consist of certificates
of gift from the Heifer Project.
This year the only exception is my 9 year old granddaughter. —
I am making several batches of biscuits ("cookies" your
side of the pond!) and boxes from some lovely dark red recycled card. —
Plant plants, now, to give for Christmas. Herbs, in
particular. This is one way to always be present in your loved one's
days for a while to come. — jeela
Buy a used book and in the inside cover explain why you
chose the book for that person.
Make tree ornaments out of old CDs.
Purchase gifts at a fair-trade shop, garage sale or thrift
Make hand-made soap or candles.
If you are skilled in a particular area, offer a lesson
Make a birdseed ball.
Make a soothing, herb pillow filled with lavender, rose,
Collect quotes that make you think of someone.
Stamp and address postcards for family members.
For the elderly people in your life, research newspaper and
magazine articles from their youth and present in a creative fashion.
Make a calendar with pictures of family members and/or
Wrap gifts in newspaper, maps, scarves or interesting
Fill an old trunk or suitcase with fun clothing, hats and
gaudy jewelry for your children to play dress-up.
Make a puppet from a sock.
Give away a valued possession.
Frame a piece of your artwork.
Fill a basket with home-made goodies.
Bake your favourite holiday treat and pack in a recycled
Paint an empty wine bottle with non-toxic paint and fill
with olive oil. Top with an oil pour spout that can be found at a
gourmet cooking shop.
Videotape and interview your elderly parents about
childhood memories, how they met, etc., and give to siblings or
Compile a list of memories and arrange them in a
Do something exciting and challenging together (e.g., long
walk, bike ride, hike, art course).
Knit a stocking, hat, socks, etc.
Write and illustrate a book for the young people in your
Collect meaningful photos for the gift recipient, make
colour photocopies and create a collage.
Create a menu of various culinary delights (e.g.,
Tantalizing Thai, Mexican Fiesta, etc.) and have the gift recipient
choose one of the options.
Create coupons for a massage, spring cleaning,
child-minding, manicure, etc.