I’m dreaming of a green holiday


Cutouts from the many holiday-themed mailouts that companies and charities send make great gift tags, just one way to green the holidays.   Photo: Anne-Marie Demers

By Anne-Marie Demers

It’s not that difficult to put a little green in the holiday season. For more than 20 years now, our close family of three sisters, partners and kids has held a name-picking session in late October, at first for the grown-ups only and then for everyone as the kids became adults, to decide who gives a present to whom. We found that this greatly reduces stress and increases joy during the gift-giving season. Of course, we all agree on a spending limit to make sure nobody goes overboard with an extravagant gift.

Store-bought or not? Our presents are not always store-bought as some of us are quite handy with a sewing machine or wool and knitting needles. One of the younger adults is a Photoshop wizard and does wonders with old, imperfect pics.

If we choose to buy, we look for locally made gifts at craft fairs and church bazaars; we also like gifts made from recycled sources. Many of these can be found in Ottawa, right here in our neighbourhood. Supporting our local businesses is more important than ever this year because of restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic. This year, we’ll make sure to include a few gift certificates from neighbourhood stores.

Green gift-wrapping. We don’t buy wrapping paper anymore, except for the odd package of tissue paper. This is because we have repurposed pretty holiday tablecloths and napkins and colourful old clothes to make reusable gift pouches and bags. They can be made in different sizes and are fully washable if needed. (When lined, they look richer and last longer.) We also have decorated boxes that we use year after year. Shoeboxes and computer or cellphone boxes are sturdy and can be easily prettified with seasonal stickers sent by charitable organizations.

Gift tags. No need to buy gift tags either when you use cutouts from the many holiday-themed items that companies and charities produce for the season. We retrieve wrapping paper and shopping bags from our condo’s paper dumpster, then cut out pretty seasonal motifs and glued them on scraps of paper or thin cardboard. They are larger, prettier and more original than most store-bought gift tags.

When we use boxes instead of gift bags, we dig into our supplies of colourful string and carefully ironed ribbon from previous years. The wrapped presents look smashing!

Many fabulous suggestions can also be found on Canadian newspaper or TV websites. Explore and have a great holiday season!

Anne-Marie Demers lives near the Glebe Community Centre and is a proud member of her condo’s Greening Committee et une fière Franco-ontarienne.

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