We Get Greener Kit Cassingham & her Bigger Half

Gift Buying

As I green my life my approach to buying gifts has changed. It's not just about greening my life, it's also about reducing the collection of "stuff" and the clutter in people's lives.

I have friends who required their children to select a specified number of toys to give away before birthdays and Christmas so they could get new toys. What an incredible concept! (I wonder if that would work on My Bigger Half and me....) It not only teaches the kids to share what they have, but it also reduces the amount of clutter in the house, along with the environmental lesson of not wasting resources. The kids may not get that lesson unless their parents point it out, but the seed is planted for later years.

For many years my gifts were handmade. Handmade gifts have included vanilla extract, candles, jewelry, lavender sachets, potpourri, lemonchello (and almond and raspberry liqueurs too), ornaments, and clothes. I started that tradition because I didn't have the money to buy gifts for all the people I wanted to, but I had the time to make things for them. I also love making things, so what a great gift to share -- me. Giving from the heart and not relying on products was an environmental gift I didn't appreciate when I initially started that tradition.

Approaches I've used in the past for how I buy gift include:

  • keep my eyes open year-round for things that will be perfect for specific people, and buy when I find the right treasure
  • shop at antique and thrift stores
  • flowers
  • shop from their wish-list or registry
  • make gift baskets
  • share local items like candy, arts or crafts, food
  • gift cards like from Amazon or other bookstores, massages, coffee, various stores
  • coupon books, of my own making like for dog sitting, foot or back rubs, a batch of recipient's favorite cookie or bar, cat box cleaning

Buy A Gift, Gift Ideas
Gift BasketGift Basket
Flowersgift flowers
Coffeea coffee sampler

Goals I keep in mind as I shop are to buy non-plastic items and strive for natural materials, as much as possible, buy a lightly-used item, avoid scents and noises, and keep each person's preferences in mind. No really, the chain-saw I bought for My Bigger Half really was for him. Really!

And now My Bigger Half and I don't give "stuff" to each other or good friends, at least not very often. We primarily give gifts to the needy through various charitable organizations. We mostly prefer to support local charities, but we do reach globally at times too. We even give gifts in others' names. We save calories and resources by giving this way. And it helps those who need it.

At our stage in, and approach to, life we don't really need more things. We buy what we need or want as the need/desire comes, and are working on clearing the clutter in the house and office. What we cherish most is time and memories with friends and family. Those are gifts money can't buy. Those are times and memories from the heart.

Figure out what your friends, family and work associates cherish most and proceed to share that treasure with them. Give from your heart. How do you buy gifts?


I buy gifts that support causes I care about: The Southwest Indian Foundation, Ten Thousand Villages, The Metropolitan Museum, Chicago Art Institute -- and from local craftspeople. And the gifts I most enjoy receiving are homemade: cookies from my daughter, cranberry sauce from a cousin, calendars of my son and daughter-in-law's photography.

Carol in Colorado Springs at January 16, 2011 11:37 PM

I'm with you, Kit. We don't NEED anything else and certainly wants can be edited greatly, too. Our favourite gifts have been donations to various charities, including the shelter where we found our two current dogs. We try to match the charity to the recipients, as well, in order to make the gift more meaningful for them, and, frankly, it makes me feel better putting that little bit of extra time & effort into the gift. I still want the recipients to feel that I thought of them as I made my gift choices.

Mary-francis at January 17, 2011 9:20 AM

Kris' Aunt Sugar suggested we do something special for Christmas this year: give as gifts things that have sat in the back of your closet for years.

This is a pretty brilliant idea. We have boxes and boxes of stuff accumulated over the years. Some of the boxes haven't been opened in three moves, which strongly suggests we can do without whatever's inside. Best of all, "Christmas from the Closet" promises to free up space that we can use for some other purpose.

Assuming, of course, that everyone else doesn't do the same!

Randy Winn

Randy Winn at January 17, 2011 10:38 AM

Carol, yes, you touched on one other gift that's good to give and receive -- handmade items. Thanks for that great reminder!

Mary-francis, thanks for the pointer of making the gift to charity meaningful to the recipient of the gift notice. I'm always a bit torn about how to give my friends credit for the gift we gave in their name, wanting to keep them out of the marketing and catalogs/emails that are sure to follow.


Kit Cassingham at January 17, 2011 10:40 AM

I agree. I also really like to give and receive experience gifts - like take my nephews to a soccer game, or give a gift certificate to a movie theater. For my parents' special anniversary last year, we got them symphony tickets and a gift certificate to a nearby restaurant along with brunch reservations - they had a wonderful time and it was a perfect gift for them.

Laura at January 17, 2011 2:05 PM

You have a lucky family, Laura. :~)

We give flowers to our parents. They like that too.

There really are lots of ways to give without getting commercial, aren't there!


Kit Cassingham at January 17, 2011 2:48 PM
Post a comment

Remember Me?

(you may use HTML tags for style)

Please wait. Your comment is being processed ...