Category Archives: Green Gift Ideas

25 Homemade Or Natural Stocking Stuffers

25 Homemade Or Natural Stocking Stuffers

My kids always look forward to their stockings on Christmas morning. They never know what little things will be in there for them. The challenge is always finding things that aren’t plastic junk. They get far too much of that from other sources. Homemade or natural stocking stuffers are a very interesting option.

  1. Rocks, minerals and gemstones – these are a favorite with my kids. I often find interesting ones on eBay. No coal – the kids aren’t that bad.
  2. Coupons – for time with parents, skip a chore, etc.
  3. Popcorn balls
  4. Homemade lip balm
  5. Homemade slime
  6. Homemade play dough
  7. Dried fruit
  8. Homemade crayons
  9. Hand warmers
  10. Bath bombs/salts
  11. Seeds
  12. Homemade caramels
  13. Homemade soaps
  14. Homemade snow globes
  15. Rice heating pads
  16. Treasure map to other gifts
  17. Headbands
  18. Scarf
  19. Earrings
  20. Hair pins
  21. Cord bracelet
  22. Crayon roll
  23. Sewing kit
  24. Sidewalk chalk
  25. Wooden puzzle

While they aren’t natural or homemade, I also like finding little science oriented kits or other things to indulge my kids’ natural curiosity. My husband has trouble keeping to a budget when he visits American Science & Surplus – and that’s not a paid or affiliate link. Seriously, he just loves that site. If it’s my affiliate link you want, they have an Amazon storefront, but I don’t know how it compares to the main site. I never know what he’s going to find there, but it’s always pretty interesting. It appeals well to our geeky side.

Green DIY Ideas For Gifts

Green DIY Ideas For Gifts

The holiday season is fast approaching. Black Friday (or Thursday at some stores) ads are coming out. Tis the season for rampant consumerism.

But you can escape it as much as you choose. You can cut back on gift giving and receiving, or make some gifts yourself. Here are some green do it yourself gift ideas you may want to try with your family.

Play Dough

Homemade play dough is a great gift for the younger kids in a family. They go through play dough so fast, yet it’s really cheap and easy to make. My daughter’s preschool teacher makes a version using KoolAid, but you can color it with regular food coloring or even spices.

Here’s my basic, no cook recipe:

2-1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup salt
1 tbs cream of tartar (optional but helpful)
1-1/2 cups hot water
3 tbs cooking oil
Food coloring

Mix dry ingredients together. Add oil. If you’re doing more than one color, separate into one container per color. Add food coloring to each container, then add hot water slowly, mixing until you get the right consistency.

If you add too much water to a batch, you can add a little more flour and/or salt to get the texture right. This recipe doesn’t require a lot of precision.

Seal each color into a container. Some people refrigerate it to help it last longer, but that’s not 100% necessary. The play dough at the preschool is never refrigerated and lasts a month or more, with near daily use.

Painted Rocks

This is a nice idea for kids to give. It’s budget friendly and personal. Smooth rocks are easiest to paint, of course. Use a good quality, low VOC paint if at all possible.

Homemade Truffles

I love making homemade truffles. My favorite is the pomegranate truffle – it’s just amazing and easy to make as these things go – just two ingredients!

There are ingredients for all kinds of truffles online. Be aware that homemade truffles are best off kept in the refrigerator.

Origami Cash Gifts

If you just don’t know what else to give, cash can be a good gift. You don’t have to be completely boring just because you’re giving cash, however. You can fold it into origami. Your gift will be a little more memorable this way.

Infused Oils

For the person in your life who likes to cook, make some infused oils. It’s not terribly complex, although you do need to plan enough ahead that the flavors infuse into the oil. Most take a week or two to really get into the oil. You can find good instructions at theKitchn.

Vanilla Extract

Another nice gift for cooks. Once again, plan ahead so the vanilla flavor really develops in the extract. Matter of fact, you probably want to start now on this one, as it takes about six weeks to make a basic vanilla extract, and months if you want it be be still better.

All you need is vodka, vanilla beans and some jars or bottle. Dark glass is best to avoid sun exposure. Split the beans lengthwise, put into the vodka, and let it sit. Some sites say to shake it once a week, other sites don’t. You can leave the beans in and keep topping off the vodka in whichever bottle you keep for yourself.

Bath Bombs

Bath bombs are kind of pricey if you buy them, but really easy to make at home. I did this once with my daughter, and the one lesson I will share is don’t do this on a really humid day. The bath bombs weren’t ruined or anything, but they looked a little puffy after a short time out of the molds, and I think that was due to humidity. It may also have been that they weren’t completely dry when we popped them out of the molds.

There are homemade bath bomb recipes all over the internet. Common ingredients include citric acid, Epsom salts, baking soda, food coloring and essential oils. Some also use cocoa butter, shea butter or coconut oil.

There’s a lot of flexibility when it comes to ingredients. The citric acid and baking soda are what cause the fizzing by reacting with each other in water. Pretty much any other ingredient is up to you, just make sure you aren’t getting the citric acid and baking soda wet enough to cause much reaction.

Homemade Stuffed Toys

I’m working on this one now, making giant stuffed toy snakes for my kids. They’ve heard about the one I had when I was a kid, but I just can’t find anything that compares now, so homemade will have to do. I bought fabric for mine, but if you can repurpose material from stuff you have around the house if you like.

You can use stuffing from old pillows if you like, or buy new. My snakes will be getting mostly new because, quite frankly I don’t have that many old pillows around.

Eyes can be stitching, old buttons or you can buy plastic safety eyes for toys. Just think about your child’s age when adding eyes. Buttons aren’t a very good choice for very young children who might pull them off and put them in their mouths.

Earring Holder Frame

My oldest daughter loves her earrings. She has an earring holder, but it has long since filled up. Not that this stops her from wanting more earrings, of course. An earring holder made from a picture frame and either lace or screen makes a lot more sense, since it’s more flexible as to where you put each pair of earrings.

An earring holder made from window screen material and a picture frame is very simple to make. Find a frame about the right size without glass. Use a staple gun to attach the screen, stretching the screen material tight as you go. Cut any excess screen off the outer edges. You can do this with anything that has holes big enough for you to hang the earrings.

The problem with a plain screen earring holder frame is that you can’t hang it on the wall and use it for post earrings. Works great for hooks, but if you need to put the earring back on, it just doesn’t work. I saw a great post at H Is For Handmade where they used strips of lace across the frame so that post earrings can hang as well, without taking the whole frame off the wall. It’s a great twist on the frame idea.

Don’t forget to wrap your gifts in eco friendly ways too. I’ve written about eco friendly gift wrap ideas in the past.

Ethical Products to Give For Christmas

Christmas is a wonderful time to think of family and friends, but take the time to think about others. This isn’t just about what you buy, but who you buy it for. Here are some great ethical gifts to give for Christmas.

Rethink What’s Needed

Ethical Christmas presentsA part of the problem with Christmas as most of us celebrate is is the emphasis on consumerism. Take the time to really think about what makes a good gift for those you love. Think about what you ask for when people want to know what to get for you.

Fair Trade Products

Take the time to think of those who made the products you’re buying and look into Fair Trade options. You can find Fair Trade clothing, chocolate, coffee, jewelry, sporting equipment, toys and much more.

Amazon.com Fair Trade Merchandise
Gifts With Humanity
The Ultimate Green Store
Earth Divas

Help Someone Else

Perfect for that person who has everything, give a gift in someone’s name. You can use this as an example for your children too. Make sure it’s a cause they agree with, and that the charity makes good use of the money you send.

Charities that provide livestock are popular, as are programs which allow you to lend money to entrepreneurs.

Charity Navigator
GiveWell
Charity Watch

Sign Up for a Food Co-op

Why not sign up for fresh produce from a food co-op? Check Local Harvest and other directories for co-ops available in your area. Not only do you get wonderful food, you get a variety you may not be used to, which encourages trying new recipes.

Heirloom Seeds

For the gardener in your life, think about providing some interesting heirloom seeds to grow. This may be more of a stocking stuffer than a full gift for some, but it can still be a lot of fun.

6 Cardboard Presents Kids Love

One of the gifts my youngest child will be getting this year is a cardboard castle. I love cardboard playhouses. Kids can color them as they will, they last pretty well, they fold up small if you need to store them, and they’re recyclable. It’s pretty neat. But you don’t have to stick just to the basics. Here are some great Christmas or birthday presents for kids made out of cardboard. The only possible problem is that they really need to stay indoors. Cardboard doesn’t do so well outdoors, especially in wet weather or lawn sprinklers.

cardboard playhouse1. The Classic – Cut Doors and Windows Into a Used Cardboard Box

This is the most basic and eco friendly way to go. Find a business that has cardboard boxes to get rid of, and ask for a big one to be put aside for you. They’ll usually do this for free, so it’s budget friendly too. If they have double thickness cardboard boxes, so much the better. Just make sure they save a big enough box for a playhouse.

Cut out doors and windows, leaving one edge attached and bend it back and forth so the kids can open and shut them.

We had one of these last a couple of years, including being taken apart for a move. The double thickness cardboard was strong enough that the kids could climb around on top.

2. Marble Run

This idea doesn’t take as big a box – matter of fact, it’s pretty flexible. Take a cardboard box and some paper towel tubes or toilet paper tubes. Cut the tubes in half and attach them to the box to make a marble run. You can go simple or get really creative with this.

3. Pirate Ship

If you want something a little more complex, try a Pirate Ship. The creative can make one of their own, but you can also buy them online and possibly locally. They’re really cute, just right for your little buccaneer.

4. Cardboard Blocks

I remember playing with these as a kid. They were great because you didn’t have to worry about hurting someone when they fell down. They last pretty well too. If your kids like to build a lot, you may need more than one set. They’re much bigger than other blocks, but you don’t get a lot of them in a single set. You can go for the simple brick style that I remember or the more varied Giant Archiquest Cardboard Blocks.

5. Space Shuttle

If your child is more into space, or you just prefer it, the cardboard Space Shuttle
looks wonderful to me. Just one more way to encourage kids to use their imaginations.

6. Robot

This one doesn’t come with the cardboard, instead the Makedo™ Find and Make Robot Kit gives parts to help kids make their own robot from things they find around the house. It’s a really interesting idea, sure to challenge kids.

4 Easy Gifts to Make for the Holidays

Homemade gifts have a lot of advantages. They’re affordable and meaningful. They’re fun. Done right, they aren’t as wasteful as other gifts. They’re a great excuse to avoid the mall crowds. Some are easy enough to do at nearly the last minute.

Here are some ideas to help you get started with homemade gifts.

Homemade Bath Salts

1 cup Epsom salts or sea salts
1 tsp glycerin
a few drops essential oil, such as lavender
few drops food coloring – optional but pretty

Mix ingredients together in a glass bowl. Store in a jar with a tight lid. Decorate jar with a ribbon around it.

You can include baking soda in the recipe as well, about the same amount or less as the other salts. Other liquid at room temperature oils can be used in place of the glycerin, just make sure they’re good for the skin.

Homemade Vanilla Extract

6 vanilla beans
2 cups vodka
Quart Mason jar and lid

Cut the beans in half lengthwise and add to the jar. Pour vodka over the beans. Store in a cool dark place for at least a month, shaking the jar every few days.

This one is great for the chef in the family. Make a label for the jar if the vanilla extract won’t be ready for use by the time you give it. The vanilla beans can stay in for longer than a month, and will continue to improve the flavor of the extract.

Chocolate Covered Pomegranate Seeds

Pomegranate seeds
Dark chocolate chips

Melt chocolate chips in a double boiler or in the microwave until smooth. If using a microwave, take the chocolate out every 15-30 seconds to stir once it starts to melt so you don’t burn it.

Stir pomegranate seeds into melted chocolate, covering completely with the chocolate.

Spoon onto wax paper in small quantities, maybe 3-6 seeds per scoop. Cool in the refrigerator.

This treat should be made not too long before it will be eaten. The pomegranate seeds won’t stay good too long. Each treat should be small so that it fits easily in the mouth. Those seeds will squirt when you bite into them, but the combination with the dark chocolate is amazing. This is a particular favorite of mine because my mother has a pomegranate tree.

Draft Snake

Two pieces tightly woven fabric 8 inches by 41 inches or longer if for a larger door
Thread
Sewing skills
Sand, rice or dried beans for filling

Sew the fabric together to form a 41 inch long tube, leaving one of the small ends open. Turn right side out and fill, leaving room to sew the open end shut. Turn in the raw edges and sew the opening shut.

You can add a tongue, eyes and other features as you like. This gift is great if you know someone living in a drafty house.

If you’re into crafts, you can think of many more homemade gifts to make. Why not share your creativity with the ones you love this year?