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Five Ways to Simplify the Holidays
by Wendy Priesnitz

Christmas window
Photo Shutterstock

Celebrating the upcoming holiday season doesn’t have to create stress, expense and unfulfilled expectation. Here are some ways to save money and protect the planet while still spreading Christmas cheer.

1. Give yourself and the environment a break this Christmas. Leave all those fragile and fiddly, dust-attracting, energy-guzzling decorations in the basement. You don’t have to go overboard with the picture perfect decorations in order to enjoy the spirit of the season. In fact, often the trappings of the season get in the way of enjoyment. So use the “less is more” principle and decorate with kids’ art, a few cherished heirlooms, some colorful fruit and greenery, and if you must have a tree, buy a potted one and plan to grow it in your garden next year (or try to locate an organically grown one if you can’t change the cut tree tradition). 

2. Simplify gift wrapping. Instead of buying wrapping paper, which is expensive and wasteful, use younger children’s artwork as wrapping paper. Or reuse old paper, like the Sunday comics section, old maps, and decorated brown grocery bags. Wrap a gift in a colorful piece of scrap fabric or make the wrapping part of the in encasing a sushi bowl and chopsticks in a tea towel, or some bathroom soap in a plush bath towel.

3. Make your own gifts. One of the advantages of doing that is that you lessen or eliminate the time spent at the mall. Use that time together with your family and friends instead. Hold a gift-making session with your children or friends. Host a potluck meal during the holiday season. Keep it simple for everyone but make getting together a priority. Invite some other families for a walk in the park or for a sledding party. Spend an evening by candlelight just telling family stories – all electronic media gets unplugged!    
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4. Do you enjoy holiday baking but don’t have a lot of time? Host a cookie swap among your friends and neighbors, where each of you makes a few dozen of one kind of cookie and gets together over a coffee or glass of wine (organic, of course) to share them among yourselves. This way each person has a great cookie assortment without all the work.

5. And finally, the traditional theme of the holiday season is “Peace on Earth and goodwill towards all.” No doubt we’d all like a peaceful world that is full of justice and good will. The holiday season is a great time to involve children in some peacemaking and community support. Be part of an alternative gift fair in your community, make a charitable contribution in your kids’ name or volunteer (with your children if they are of an appropriate age) at a children’s shelter over the holiday season. Spend some of your gift-giving money on someone who really needs some help instead of adding to collection of things that will just be returned to the store or sit on someone’s shelf.

Wendy Priesnitz is the Editor of Natural Life Magazine and a journalist with over 40 years of experience.


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