10 Ways to Get Out of Holiday Shopping

Are you dreading the shopping cart “road rage” of the holidays?  I, too, used to agonize over the long lines and crowded aisles.  If you’re feeling the same, check out these tips that I’ve used to help avoid the department store drama and make gift-giving a breeze.  And as an added bonus, you’ll cut down on the gobs of trash and packaging that go along with more traditional gifts.

  1. Many families are in need; especially during the holiday season.  Make a date with your family or a group of friends to go to a local soup kitchen to help those less fortunate.
  2. Get Outside. Choose your favorite outdoor winter activity and share it with a group. Spending the afternoon snowshoeing or tubing will be much more exciting than yet another pair of tube socks.
  3. Learn Something New. Enroll a friend or family member in classes- swim lessons, painting, horseback riding—the possibilities are endless.  You could even do it together- ceramics, jewelry making, glass blowing.
  4. Have a party! Do you love to cook and entertain?  Invite the gang over and treat them to a fancy dinner.  If cooking is not your strongest subject, do something more casual like a board game night or a jam session for your musician friends.
  5. Let’s Eat! Everyone loves a holiday treat.  Whip up some cookie platters or jars of jam for yummy, edible gifts. If you’re not much of a Betty Crocker, stick to easier ingredients.  Make dry soup mixes in canning jars.  Or go extra simple with mixed nuts, granola, or candy jars.
  6. Get Tickets. Tickets to local performances or concerts make excellent gifts.  You or your loved ones get to experience local theater, dance, or music while supporting the arts.  Movie theater passes and sporting events are great options too!
  7. Buy a Membership. Memberships are a great way to provide fun for the whole year.  Whether it’s sweating it out at a fitness center or a getting wild at the Zoo, your pals will love it.
  8. Do it Yourself.  Give a gift certificate for free labor.  Offer to shovel snow, clean the house, baby sit the kiddos while mom and dad have a night out.  Your time will be their treasure.
  9. Make a Donation. If you know someone who is passionate about their cause, support them!  Instead of buying them a cuckoo clock, make a donation to a charity in their name.
  10. Draw Names. If you just can’t talk your friends and family out of buying gifts this holiday season, try to compromise by drawing names and buying for only one person instead of the whole group. Stay green by wrapping your lone gift with newsprint or a re-used paper sack and a bow.

Year after year, I get rave reviews for the fun times at the zoo and the chocolates I make for my sweet toothed family.  Give it a shot.  I know your easy (and Green!) gifts will be a huge hit too!


By AJ Axtell, an Environmental Program Coordinator for Western Lake Superior Sanitary District (WLSSD)