The Holidays are upon us, a time for gathering friends & family, to share warmth, friendship, and good cheer. And when we show up, we bring ourselves, our love for each other, and usually a little something more than our glad tidings. It’s the season for exchanging gifts.

 We know there are lots of blogs about waste, and they’re all worth it. They are all that important: waste is no small matter. It’s the substance of landfill. Earth911 estimates that approximately 4.6 million lbs. of wrapping paper is produced in the U.S. each year, and that about 2.3 million pounds ends its life in landfills. And for us here at Truth Alone you know there is always this recurring key-note: it’s about me, you, we us all doing our small part to keep sustainable best practices visible & in existence.

 Since there are many blogs on waste & wrapping, we wanted to focus on other kinds of waste that occur in the holiday grab bag and also the White Elephant gifting. We love a good laugh and the fun in these moments of the holidays, and we also know that a lot of this lighter hearted gift exchanges end up being thrown away as empty & meaningless: not useful. It has been our experience to cheat on the rules a bit by providing something more meaningful that we knew everyone might want and keep. So there’s one approach, make it significant, no matter what the rules.

 But here are some other ideas to share, or ways to contribute that might give a lasting memory, or leave a lasting impression on friends:

  1.  The Charitable Donation: The entire group can agree to make charitable donations in the amount agreed upon by the group. No one should share in advance to what charity they have made their donation. This can be shared when the group gets together. Each person should write a statement for why they chose their charity, place it in a sealed envelope that can be collected during the party. At the time for gifting, each party participant takes an envelope to read aloud. In selecting a charity, you might consider your friends that are joining you, and perhaps your charitable donation is a tribute to their cause.
  1. The Baked Good Parcel

    Everyone, and we mean everyone, has to bring a personally baked good, a single or double portion, no more, to be shared between the friends gathered. These can be sustainable wrapped (be the minimalist we know you are). Either share them at the end of your celebration for dessert, or place a number under each one. The baked goods can also be raffled off at the very end, pulling numbers from the hat.

  2. The “Miniature Garden Party”:          
    Miniature succulents, or beautiful thorny cactus are some ideas, but any variety of miniature plant that could be placed on someone’s desk or table at home makes for a nice exchange. This would bring a smile to anyone’s face as a lasting memory of friends gathered for holiday cheer. These miniature plants also lend themselves to making a nice display on the table while you celebrate, peaking everyone’s interest. They could then be raffled off (just like the baked goods), at the time of exchanging gifts. (This one has a small caveat, be mindful that the containers are NOT plastic—that’s a disqualifier. Look for the ones in miniature ceramic or terracotta—these will also make the nicest impression.)

  3. For Children’s Grab Bag:                                                                                The baked goods is certainly one any child would love—for sure, do this grab bag after their dinner. Number the items. Here I would not display the treats so as not to engage covetous behavior of children. Have the children pull the number, and an elder family member can present the treat. Another idea would be a Learning Grab Bag—let’s plant a tree. Write the name of trees to be planted on a small piece of recycled/recyclable paper. Think of where this will be planted, and what is best for planting where you are considering. When the child makes his/her selection, pull up the tree on-line to display it in its full form majesty. Make a date with the child come the Spring-Time, to make an event of planting the three of their choosing from the holiday event. Fill the children in on all the benefits and how this activity of planting trees is important to the planet, as a contribution to their future. Make tree planting a part of your holidays each year.

 There! No more empty & meaningless gifts, and certainly no fewer laughs, smiles, and gathered appreciation. When all else fails, remember the 3R’s: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. And nobody here at Truth Alone has stolen the holiday cheer, we can all sing:  “Fahoo Fores, Dahoo Dores/ Welcome all Whos Far & Near.”  


November 27, 2019 — Donald Taffurelli

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