Thursday, December 27, 2012

As Green a Christmas as Possible

We haven't had Christmas yet. We are waiting until everyone can be here.

January 1 is the date of our Christmas. I have to admit it was kind of nice last week when people asked, "Are you ready for Christmas?" to be able to say, "No, but I've got another week."

The menus are almost finalized, and most of our gifts are purchased and wrapped. Here's one for Bill.

One of my goals this year was to continue to be as green as possible--on an occasion that doesn't necessarily encourage that.

A number of years ago I was so horrified at the amount of trash (mostly generated by gift wrapping, ribbons, and packaging) at a Christmas gathering that I resolved to minimize that kind of waste in our household as much as possible. We started using and re-using and re-re-using and re-re-re-using (you get the idea) all gift bags. We saved boxes, tissue paper, and ribbons. Gift wrap was harder, but, if it wasn't too mangled, we saved it, folded it, and put it away.

We became a family recycling machine. During and immediately after the gift exchange, we and our children grabbed everything that could be re-used. We didn't practice single stream recycling. We sorted ribbons, bags, tissue paper, and boxes--separately. I remember having guests one year who looked at us as though we were a little crazy when we went into our by-now-ingrained ribbon and box saving routine.

When we downsized and moved downtown, we gave up the big house and the space to store these things.  For many years, I had a closet devoted to recycled gift giving supplies. Figuring out how to hang on to re-usables with our limited space has been a challenge, but I think I've found the solution.

I tend to be given things that come with ribbons and tissue paper all year long--some from gifts, some from purchases. I saved the ribbons in a drawer in my kitchen. This is the stash AFTER I wrapped all the gifts. Good start on next year.

I saved the tissue paper in a drawer in the utility closet. I couldn't believe how many sheets I saved during a year. This is the stack AFTER I wrapped all the  gifts. Another good start on next year.

Gift tags? Not a problem. During my years as a professor at Pellissippi State, I saved every piece of paper that was blank on the back and cut them into "note squares." When I had a student worker for a few years, I know he dreaded the days when part of his job was to cut note squares. [When he protested, I once left him a note that said: You can never be too thin or too rich or have too many note squares.] Well, of course, I still make note squares.

Each of these can be used to make at least 8 gift tags.

So my menu is mostly planned, and my gifts are mostly wrapped--using leftover tissue paper, leftover ribbons, and portions of note squares. I think they look pretty good.

I'm not sure how much of the tissue paper can be re-used, but the ribbons can be re-used for years--and at least the tissue paper got one more use after it came my way.

As Green a Christmas as Possible...That's what we're having.


  1. I reuse boxes and ribbons, etc. But I draw the line at saving paper.

  2. I'm with you, Rachel. Ribbons, boxes and gift bags get recycled at our place, too. Not paper. But, good for Gay for doing that.

    One other thing we recycle is pretty Christmas cards, which we use to decorate the following year's presents. Just the front of the cards. And mostly ones with foil accents. They look great on gifts and are really perfect for gifts that need to be mailed or shipped. You don't have to worry about bows getting crushed.