They are bringing the Christmas stock into the stores now… the creep of little mince tarts, wrapping paper, Santa shaped chocolate is subtle at first but soon the onslaught will begin!

But don’t fear! There are many things we can do to bring the green instead of red into Christmas.

Here comes Santa Claus, and I'm not ready yet!!!!

Virtual cards:

One of the most wasteful (and now expensive) parts of the whole seasonal festivity is the greeting card.

Whether for birthday, mother’s or father’s day, Easter, Halloween, Thanksgiving or Christmas, or even New Year (Jewish, Chinese or Julian calendar) then add in graduation, births and deaths and there you have a mountain of quality paper plus postage just waiting to be replaced by e-cards!

These cost little or nothing.  Some sites are by subscription and it is my experience that these are of better quality.  However, there are also goodies that allow you to upload your own photo and make something spectacular and still send it via email.

Yes, I know what you are going to say!  ‘It will make me look like a cheapskate.  You can’t hang an e-card up on the venetians or put it on the mantle or the piano.’  Well, I am of the belief that what with the price of postage, Christmas cards are on their way out anyway.  I, for one, will be sending very few this year as the local postage is kind of a joke anyway.  There are only 9 posties in this town of over 400,000 people and they only pick the mail up if they feel like it or if the temperature drops below 25°C something that rarely happens.

jacquielawson.com is an English site, only around $10 for a subscription per year and really well-thought-out animated, musical cards.   Jacqui Lawson cards are clever, consistent and always new ones are added to the collection.

ojolie

Ojolie.com is also a very beautifully designed site as well.  The lovingly painted cards are then animated and music is added to each one for a very personal and amazing card. I have to say this site is really beautiful in their story and their cards – well worth the money for a subscription but the free cards are just breathtaking as well. I recently sent an Earth Day card to a friend and she loved it!

These sites are sustainable because someone is being paid for the effort and creativity.  So many ‘free stuff’ sites fizzle because people can’t afford to keep up the good effort.

But if you can’t afford to subscribe to this, then there are lots of pictures on the web that you can access without breach of copyright. Make your own cards.  If you ARE printing, then consider how much ink and paper you are using.

Old photos can be bought from op shops and revamped into something interesting using sequins, stickers and other collage items. This makes a great pre-christmas project for the kids too! They love creating cards for the family and they become treasured keepsakes.

Virtual wrap:

Wherever you can, be inventive about your cards and wrap.  Even newspaper and large format magazines can make great wrapping paper when topped with a bright ribbon.  Again, check the op shop for fabric and old scarves to recycle into ribbon.

Use pillow slips, teatowels or towels or even scarves as wrapping.  You can even sew these into neat bags quite easily, adding a gusset and handles to be really smart.

Virtual gifts:

With your gift purchases, there are ways of showing people you care.  For instance, you can donate goats or other animals to underprivileged families all round the world in the name of a loved one. Heifer.org is a great organisation that allow you to do this.

This can be a goat, a water buffalo, sheep or even a llama.

Or a cow to the Maasai

So much better than yet another Playstation game that will soon be outdated junk!

You can buy shares in the animals so that, for instance, if your budget could only stretch to $10 you could just spend that much.

Shopping for real stuff:

There are lots of environmental gift ideas and you can purchase some online.

See environmentshop.com.au for a terrific shop in Melbourne.  The owner of this shop knows his stuff and is passionate about all aspects of ecology.  They don’t sell online but there are excellent resources on this site and plenty of gift ideas including packs of seeds you could put with a pot, some soil and water crystals to make an easy mini herb garden.

Instead of giving a box with redundant stuff, think about giving your kids a short course in something SKILL based.  And the other way around.  Kids, give your folks a course in a language, in basic mending, woodwork, gardening or even Tango dancing!

Draw up a certificate for a day of service to those you love.  Offer yourself as gardener, cleaner, mender, painter,  etc. or just organise a day of fishing or a picnic.

Make some mini Christmas puddings now and store till the day and hand them out decorated with sprigs of holly (there is plenty of this around in Melbourne but you may need to wash it well to get rid of the sooty mould it is plagued with at this time).

I am sure you can think of more of these ideas.  You can make your own ornate certificate by downloading pictures from the web or doing calligraphy the olde worlde way!

But start now!  Christmas is just around the corner!

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