Tag Archives: christmas

What to do About All the Non Eco Friendly Gifts Your Kids Want

Most children have very long wish lists for Christmas. There are so many ads on television, so many toys discussed with friends, and they want most of them.

Unfortunately, very few toys are made in anything remotely resembling an environmentally friendly manner. How do you deal with the requests for toys that are not eco friendly when you’re trying to raise a green family?

Buy Used

Some classics I find hard to resist, as do many other parents. The good part about some classics is that they’re pretty easy to buy used rather than new.

Legos are a good example. Many of us had them growing up. We may even have some stuffed away in a closet or at a parent’s house.

I love Legos. They encourage creativity, especially the plain block sets. But eco friendly they are not. Too much plastic.

On the plus side, they’re durable. I’d expect a set to be handed down many times. That helps a lot on the environmental side of things.

Any toy that has been out for a few months you have the chance to buy used. No guarantees, of course, and you have to look at how much they’ve been damaged by previous owners. But in terms of finding popular toys in an eco friendly manner, that’s as close as you’re going to get.

Trade Around

This method takes a lot of trust. You can trade with family and friends who also have kids for the toys your kids want. You may even be able to arrange a toy rotation for those toys that they want returned. Agree that a toy will spend a month, a week, whatever length of time at each house.

If this works, it also teaches sharing. It’s harder to do with really possessive kids. Children who accept the trades can enjoy the wider selection of toys they can play with without costing you a lot of money.

Have a plan for when toys break. Will they be replaced? What if one child is more careful and the other damages a lot of toys? You do not want to ruin a friendship over a few toys.

Encourage Handmedowns

Anyone you know with kids older than yours you can encourage to give your children handmedown toys. Discuss the ones your kids want and see if they’re available. This makes gift giving within the family much cheaper if all the cousins are within a good age range.

Discover Eco Friendly Alternatives

This is hard to do, as many toys really do not have an eco friendly alternative, or at least not one most children will accept. Very few toys, relatively speaking, are made from plastic. There are more limits to what you can build with most wooden toys… just try to match something like K’Nex with a wooden or eco friendly equivalent!

When it’s possible, go for it.

Get the Toy Requested

We’re human, we parents. Sometimes just because it will delight our children, most of us will choose the toy requested, regardless of environmental considerations.

It’s best if you avoid this until you’ve gone through the other options. But when your child really wants a particular item, and you’ve been eco friendly in every way you can manage, it may not be completely unreasonable to give in. Just consider what you’ll do with the toys when they break or aren’t played with anymore. Hopefully you’ll be able to find them a good home to be played with again.

A Green Christmas Can be a Budget Friendly Christmas

There are many wonderful things about Christmas, but there are also many stressful things about it. Many people complain about the expense of buying so many gifts for family and friends. It adds up fast, not to mention how bad the whole mess can be for the environment. Isn’t there a better way?

There can be. You’ll have to change how you think of Christmas presents and be ready for people to be surprised at the kinds of gifts you give.

Give Time

For the people in your life who need just a little more company or someone to talk to, make their gift be your time. Promise to be there for them. Promise more visits where you’ll just sit and talk. Promise help running errands. Find things they need your help with, and offer your time.

This is great for grandparents and others who don’t need so many things in their homes, but often would like more company or help. It helps to create wonderful memories for all concerned and is a great example for the children in the family.

It’s also a good choice for your spouse. Give certificates promising a massage, a night out and so on.

Give Experiences

The gift of experiences is great for kids. Give fewer things for presents and give more promises of things done together. The kids may be skeptical at first, but if you choose right, they’ll enjoy the experiences tremendously.

Hiking is a good choice for those who like to do things outdoors. You may have to drive to a good place for hiking, but you can have a lot of fun together on the hike.

Taking kids to free activities is another good choice. Stores such as Home Depot and Lowe’s often have free crafts for kids on Saturdays. Check the websites of your local stores and see what’s available.

Go to the Library

If your child loves books, more trips to the library is a great choice that won’t cost you anything. It’s great fun exploring all the library has to offer.

Many libraries have special activities you can attend. There may be story hour for preschoolers, for example. My local library also has a Toddler Boot Camp, which is a mom and toddler exercise time. Check your library’s website to discover the activities available to you.

The main thing to remember is that you can give more than just things for the holidays. Your time is far more valuable to those you care about than the things you can give them. They may not realize it right away, but most truly enjoy it when you give more of your time and focus less on things.

Buy Christmas Gifts That Encourage Kids to do More Outdoor Activities

Here it is, the start of the holiday shopping season, or at least the start I’m willing to admit to. I’m trying to ignore all those businesses that had Christmas stuff out back before Halloween, or the ones that tried to move Black Friday a week early.

At this time of year, kids are clamoring for all kinds of gifts. The hottest toys are discussed, and most kids want far more than they could ever play with. It can be pretty crazy.

With all the toys many children already have, I like to suggest thinking about what it is you’d like them to be doing, as well as what they like to do. Any gifts you do give you will want appreciated, after all.

My own favorite gift for my kids to get right now is anything that encourages them to be more active. They’re pretty active already, and I’d like it to stay that way as long as possible. Better for their health and certainly a better way for them to appreciate the world around them.

The really great part about outdoor activities is that whatever equipment they require is not likely to include a lot of small pieces to be left all over the house. Sports equipment and the like left around the yard, sure, but not all over the house.

Here are some ideas to get you going on shopping for outdoor toys and equipment for your own kids.


The right wheeled equipment depends on age. Younger kids will need more stable equipment than older kids, and any kid will need a bit of time to get used to unfamiliar equipment. But it’s all fun.

Consider a bike, tricycle, scooter, roller skates, skateboard, and any of their cousins. These help kids to be more active and learn to balance well. Don’t forget appropriate safety equipment and discussions.

Team Sports

Whether you enroll your kids in a team sport or just play at home with family and friends, team sports help your child be more physically fit and active while learning how to play on a team. Just how good the lesson is will depend on the particular team, since some overly emphasize winning and giving the top players most of the game time.

Your child probably has a favorite sport, and it’s best to stick with that when getting your child into a team sport. You can push for other sports, but if you’re going for more active, you want your child to enjoy what they’re doing. Physical activity should not be dreaded.

Swing Set

How can any young child resist a good swing set? It’s hard for many adults! Figure out the space you have and a reasonable budget, and get things moving.

There are of course many other ways to get kids active outdoors. What are the favorites in your family?

Remember the Reason for Christmas

With all the craziness of this time of year it can be really hard to keep in mind the real reason we celebrate at this time of year. For my family it’s the celebration of the birth of Christ, but even if that’s not your belief there should be more to celebrating at this time of year than just “gimme, gimme, gimme.”

Appreciate Your Family

The holidays are a great time to remember just how much your family means to you. Not just your kids, but your spouse, your parents, your siblings and extended family. Make the most of the time you spend together this holiday season and try to really appreciate each other.

Fun things to do can include sharing favorite stories, baking or doing crafts together.

Appreciate Your Good Fortune

Even if times are tight for your family, you’re probably better off than a goodly percentage of the population of this planet. A good way to remind yourself and your family is to give to charity.  Feed the Children, for example, lets you give animals such as goats to families that need help. Or you can seek out a favorite charity of your own.

Appreciate Your Faith

The entire holiday season can be exhausting, but don’t let that keep you from celebrating your faith. Get to church or otherwise join in the celebrations at this time of year that so many faiths have.

You can also talk to your children about why we celebrate at this time of year. Get beyond Santa and the excessive consumerism that are so dominant at this time of year.

What to Do with All Those Christmas and Holiday Cards?

Much as you may try to limit your own use of cards and such at this time of year, you can’t easily stop other people from sending them to you. What do you do with all the kind Christmas and holiday wishes sent by card by loving family members and friends?

For a time, they do make nice decorations. You can hang them around a door frame or have them set up on a table or shelf. But what about after?

I know some people keep them all. But I’m not into cluttering up my life that way.

They can of course be recycled in many areas as well.

But I like to give them a little bit of reuse before they hit the recycle bin. I have kids, after all, and they love to do crafts. Cards give them something fun to work with.

Kids are good at coming up with their own ideas, which is nice for temporary use before you send their projects off to the recycle bin… those that the kids don’t want to keep for a time, of course. But you can direct their creativity a little bit as well. There’s a lens on Squidoo with some cute card craft ideas.

Another good use is to send your used cards to St. Jude’s Ranch. They are accepting cards now, and will continue to do so until February 28, 2010 for the current program. They do this many years, so keep it in mind for the future also.

Gift cards can also have the backs cut off, and then they can be reused as gift tags the following year. Just be sure nothing is written on the part you’re reusing.