Tag Archives: holidays

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.

5 Ways You May Not Have Considered to Green Your Easter

  5 Ways You May Not Have Considered to Green Your Easter

I’ve written in the past about having a more environmentally friendly Easter. The basics are pretty simple – reuse baskets and other supplies where possible, buy less stuff, don’t buy plastic if you can help it. Here are some more ideas you may not have considered.

1. Activity Coupons

Rather than give more stuff, print up coupons for activities you will do with your kids, such as a picnic outside, a trip to the park, playing a game together, things like that.

2. Handmade Toys

Are you creative? Make a toy for your child. Sewing, knitting, woodworking, if you have the skill to make something, why not?

3. Molded Crayons

Got a bunch of old, broken crayons around the house. Many families do. Rather than toss them, put them into molds and make new crayons for your kids’ Easter baskets.

4. Outdoor Toys

With all the candy most of us cannot resist giving, add in some outdoor toys and sports equipment to encourage the kids to get out and play.

Overall, the biggest challenge to having an eco friendly Easter is our own habits. I always have trouble resisting the Easter candy aisle at the store this time of year… some of my favorites are only in stores this time of year. While I don’t resist them entirely, I use ideas such as the above to cut down on the bad stuff while still giving really fun Easter baskets to my kids.

5. Hunt For More Than Just Eggs

Egg hunts are fun for the kids (and often the parents), but why limit yourself to just eggs?  You can hide money or clues for the kids to seek out also. You can even hide silly activities for the kids to do, such as walk backwards to the next clue, hop on one foot, pet the dog, and so forth. Have fun with it all.

7 Green Valentine’s Day Ideas for Parents

Green Valentine's Day Ideas For Parents

Valentine’s Day is a fun time for parents to remind each other how much they care for one another. That makes it another holiday with the potential for a mess of stuff that will shortly be thrown out. Here are some more eco friendly options for Valentine’s day gifts for parents.

1. Fair Trade or organic chocolate.

Is this obvious or what? I don’t think much more needs to be said.

OK, so my preference is to make pomegranate truffles for my family. Whether you make your own chocolates or buy them, pay attention to the quality of the products you use. Fair Trade chocolate is a great way to go.

2. Fair Trade or organic flowers.

Of course, you could go with flowers from your garden, if you’re fortunate enough to have any at this time of year, but most people will have to buy flowers if that’s what they want to give for Valentine’s Day.

Think about drying any flowers you get, and using them as decorations. I have a huge jar full of every flower my husband has given me since we got married. We hung each bouquet upside down in a closet until the flowers dried completely. This way they remain a lovely and sentimental part of our home decor. If that’s not your thing, compost them.

Alternatively, choose potted flowers that can be added to the garden or grown indoors. I have a lovely miniature rose bush that my husband gave me a few years ago growing in our garden. He tried to sneak it in, but my youngest’s loud “WOW!” gave him away.

3. Serve organic wine.

Whatever your romantic dinner may be, select a bottle of organic wine. Look for the USDA organic seal.

4. Organic lingerie.

A nice piece of lingerie is such a classic gift for couples. Think about the materials it’s made of, but still have fun.

5. Eco friendly jewelry.

Most jewelry is pretty bad for the environment, and often bad for social issues as well. Just think about blood diamonds.

You can do better. Companies such as GreenKarat will take your old gold to make new jewelry. Others focus on ethical origins for their supplies.

6. Rethink the card.

You don’t have to buy a Valentine’s Day card to express your feelings for you. Instead, make your own. You can write poetry, a haiku or even just a few quick sentences to show how you feel. Print it up or say it out loud.

7. Plan a spa day.

Check out your local spas and find one that focuses on environmentally sound practices. You can go together or just give your loved one a day to relax. SpaFinder is an easy way to get a gift card that works at many spas. Check to see if the spa you’d prefer accepts gift cards from them.

4 Green Valentine’s Day Ideas for Kids

Kids love Valentine’s Day. Mine always want to give out valentines that include some candy and yes, sometimes I let them. It’s hard to make they always go against what all the other kids are doing. But there are some really wonderful projects kids can make for Valentine’s Day that are a bit more eco friendly and still fun.

Valentine's Day Ideas for Kids

Obviously, when you’re talking about valentines to hand out at school, you’re talking cheap. No one wants to spend a ton of money making somewhere over 20 cards per class. If your kids are like mine, they also don’t want to be the only ones giving out plain cards without treats. These days it’s pretty much expected. Fortunately, there are ways to keep things just that little bit more green.

Sadly, I can’t recommend homemade treats, as many schools have rules against such things.

1. Make homemade Valentine’s Day cards.

It’s really not easy to find classroom packs of Valentine’s Day cards made from recycled materials, but you may be able to make your own. Look around for any appropriate paper and cardstock you may have. There are plenty of printable Valentine’s cards available too. Add a crayon or so if it’s made to be colored in.

2. Make crayon hearts.

If you have a bunch of crayon pieces, melt them into heart shaped molds, and let your child include those with their Valentine cards instead of candy.

3. Add candy to your Valentine cards.

Rather than buy the cards with candy already attached, you can pick out your own candy and attach it yourself. Punch a hole or two through the card to make it easy to add a lollipop. There are all kinds of amazing ideas out there for lollipop Valentines.

4. Give pencils.

I don’t know why it is, but even kids too young to write love getting pencils. Put some heart decorations on them, and you have a really cute gift that kids might actually use.

Eco Living During the Holidays

While trying to be eco friendly is important throughout the year, it can be harder to remember during the holiday season. There are so many excuses to buy stuff you don’t need, and cut corners to make things easier, whether or not it’s a good choice for the environment.

Being green isn’t at all impossible around the holidays, however. You can make choices that are good for the environment while keeping to your eco living ideals.

Use Natural Decor

hollyWhat’s available to you in terms of natural decor? This can vary quite a bit from person to person, so take a look around. Pine trees can have a lovely scent, a nice alternative to artificial trees, especially if you can deal with the limitations of bringing in a live tree.

Pine cones look nice, and certain kinds of produce, such as gourds, can sit out through the season as decorations rather than food.

Use Natural Scents

The holiday season is full of wonderful odors, especially if you love to bake. Take advantage of natural scents when you’d like your home to smell more like the holidays.

A simple way to start is to throw some herbs in simmering water. The heat releases their scent all around the house. Just pick your favorites.

You can also time your baking for when you want a particular smell, at least some of the time. Who doesn’t like to smell cookies or an apple pie baking? If you don’t need the oven for other things, think about making something delicious to give your home a scent no candle can beat.

Reuse Gift Wrap & Bags

My supply of used gift bags is ridiculous. I can find a bag for just about any gift I’m likely to give. I’m pretty sure some have made it to my home more than once, as I’m not the only one in the family to reuse gift bags.

Reusing gift wrap is trickier, as it doesn’t always survive in a smooth form. Take a look at what remains, and consider crafts that can be done with it. At the very least, kids love anything they can cut up into interesting shapes and tiny pieces.

Rethink Gift Wrap

Of course, you don’t have to use traditional gift wrap or bags. The wrap itself could be a part of the present. I wrote about a variety of eco friendly gift wrap ideas a few years ago.

Trade Decorations

You’re tired of some of your old decorations. Someone else is tired of theirs. Can you arrange a trade with them? Be careful about moving around any sentimental items, but often there are other decorations that you’ll be content to part with, either forever or for a time.

Simplify Gift Giving

This works especially well with extended family, but kids can be willing to get in on it too. Cut back on the number of people you buy gifts for, whether by instituting a name drawing or by simply agreeing that you don’t need to exchange gifts anymore. Try setting a price limit too. This can really ease the stress around the holidays.

Make Recycling Easy

When you have family and friends over, make it easy for them to recycle as appropriate. Just think about the wine and beer bottles, beer and soda cans and so forth that get used. They’re easy to recycle, so make sure it happens.