First of all, thank you for even attempting to read this at this time of year - I'll try to be brief!
I just read a piece written by Kac Young PhD, ND, DCH, in the Western School of Feng Shui Newsletter, which I found enlightening. She was kind enough to let me adapt it for this article. I don't think it's too late to take some of Kac's suggestions. Here goes:
"We recycle, we buy fresh, we shop locally, but what else might we do to unburden our planet from excess holiday gift-giving? This year we have the opportunity to get really creative! .....When you think about unnecessary waste, remember that more than 8,000 tons of wrapping paper are used each Holiday season - the equivalent of approximately 50,000 trees. Americans throw out 38,000 miles of ribbon each year. But we can conserve our resources by purchasing wisely and thoughtfully."
Kac talks about her "5 E's" to guide us in our gift giving:
EDIBLES: food, wine, gift certificates, Restaurant.com discounts, wine club memberships or even any kind of "--- of the Month" club.
EXPENDABLES: candles, soaps, stationery, stamps, high-end shampoos and conditioners. (I would add bubble bath and lotion to this -- MY favorites!)
ENTERTAINMENT: concerts, admissions to attractions, museum memberships, special VIP status entries (My husband Dino once took me to the top of the Empire State Building VIP for Valentine's Day. I will never forget it!)
EDUCATION: something of a learning nature, gift certificates to a class. The Great Courses DVD's, subscription to an instructive magazine, language course, music lessons, dance lessons (In my other life I was a ballet instructor -- this is a great gift for children as well as adults!).
EXPERIENCES: prepare a basket and take them on a picnic, organize a hike, bike ride, plan a walking tour, get tickets to an art festival, splurge on concert tickets to their favorite band. (My own family used to spend the day in New York City -- going to lunch seeing a great Broadway show and then dinner -- so much fun!)
My favorite suggestion of Kac's is to just spend time with someone. This might sound obvious, but it's getting harder to do. How wonderful to spend time with a best friend or child doing whatever you enjoy doing together.
I hope some of these suggestions are helpful.
Mostly, I wish you a wonderful Holiday without too much stuff that you're not sure what to do with!