Greening Christmas: Trees and gifting

The Tree
The last time I wrote about a Christmas tree, we were using an artificial number that I found abandoned in our building’s basement.  That tree served us well, but for the past two years, we’ve had the real deal (the artificial tree is still hanging out in the basement, just in case there’s a year we aren’t able to get a real tree).

On Saturday afternoon, Matthew and Gabriel headed out to PaPa’s (Matthew’s grandpa) to cut a field tree (i.e., a tree growing in an unmowed field where it would eventually be cut down anyway).  These field cedars are not what you find at a tree lot (or a Christmas tree farm — we saw lots of those in Oregon!).

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They all have a sweet, Charlie Brown Christmas vibe, and I’m totally good with that.  Of the few that were about the right size, Gabriel picked this one, and Matthew cut it down with the “chainsaw.”

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Bicycle rack?  Christmas tree rack?  Same difference!  Not quite as cool as hauling your Christmas tree by bicycle, though (the distance to Matthew’s grandpa’s rules out that option for us).

We had a bit of a debacle with the tree last year, due to an inferior tree stand.  My MIL came to the rescue with a much better hand-me-down, and we had no problem getting the tree in place this year.

We didn’t have time to decorate it on Saturday night.  Gabriel waited very patiently until after breakfast on Sunday morning, and then we got down to business.

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We have a nice assortment of kid-friendly (read: sturdy) ornaments for the lower branches.  (Tip: if you run out of ornament hooks, unbent paperclips work very well.)

Tree, trimmed!

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Official tree-trimming dance?

 

Green wrapping
I swear I started a post on this topic a year ago, or at least took some pictures, but I cannot find said pictures anywhere.  My strategy last year involved using pages from the December issues of our [free] local foodie magazines (Sauce and Feast).  There were lots of festive pictures to go around (think cute cookies, candy canes, etc.), and it worked well.  I’m planning on doing more of the same this year.  Receiving blankets also make great reusable gift wrap!

Experiential gifts
This type of gift requires no wrapping.  Remember that time I wanted to be Pink?  Specifically, the high-flying, aerial artist on display at the Grammies (and throughout her 2013 ‘Truth About Love’ Tour).  Well, it turns out that there are aerial arts gyms in St. Louis.  We looked at classes at Bumbershoot Aerial Arts last spring, but the timing wasn’t right.

When Matthew brought it up in November, there was an “Intro to Silks” class that worked for us, and I suggested we do it as our Christmas present (in addition to taking care of Christmas shopping, this route made it a bit easier to swallow the price).

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We’re doing pretty basic things, but our instructor didn’t waste any time getting us on the silks.  The above photo is a bit deceiving — my legs are in a wide V-shape, and NOT straight out to the sides.  Our third class is tonight, then we break for two weeks, and finish with three more classes in January.

Pre-loved gifts
I’ve been thinking about getting Gabriel a doll house since his birthday this summer.  Though he doesn’t know he wants a doll house, I think he would enjoy playing with it (and I would enjoy doing it with him).  I didn’t want to break the bank on this purchase, but I also wanted something decent.

I’ve been checking Craigslist off and on since mid-November.  I had my eye on a Plan Toys model with an asking price of just under $200, complete with furnishings.  That was still really more than I wanted to spend (especially since I don’t know if G will enjoy it), and so I waited.

Two weeks ago, another option popped up, also made of wood (brand is Ryan’s Room, which I’ve never heard of), asking $100, and very close to where we live (it would have been tricky on the longtail, but I could have easily biked it home, if we had a flatbed bicycle trailer).  It’s not perfect, but it’s in pretty good condition (I negotiated $20 off the asking price).  I’m really looking forward to watching his reaction on Christmas morning!

Gabriel is very into playing doctor.  We have a pieced together “doctor’s kit,” and I love seeing the creativity he uses in creating doctor instruments.  I didn’t want to undermine that creativity by running out and buying a plastic play doctor set, but I liked the idea of adding to his medical kit, so when I stumbled across an awesome, real (I think — we’ll see!) stethoscope at the St. Vincent de Paul thrift store, I snatched it up.

That about does it for us.  I’d love to hear about other great experiential or pre-loved gifts — please share your ideas!

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6 Responses to Greening Christmas: Trees and gifting

  1. Rachel says:

    I have been saving the brown paper bags the grocery store puts glass in (to then put inside my reusable bags! boo). I crumbled and unfolded and crumbled and unfolded until they got a nice-ish texture and used it all to wrap gifts. They are supposed to look nice and leathery, but mine mostly look like crumbled paper bags. But they’re tied up with strings! So that counts for something, right? We have a great used bookstore in town (Afterwords in Edwardsville) and that’s where all the “from mom and dad” gifts came from. My kids are almost 1 and 2.5, and Santa is bringing a wooden rocker board for them to share. I was going to do a craigslist dollhouse for my son, too, but the little one is still a bit too little. Next year!

    • Melissa @ HerGreenLife says:

      Ha — so now we need reusable bags to go inside our reusable bags? But good for you for finding another use for them. I like the used book gift idea — it probably works best when you aren’t set on one particular book (a store with a large selection would also be helpful).

  2. Green Girl says:

    We bought a potted rosemary bush that is trimmed in the shape of a Christmas tree. After we are done, we will put the plant on the balcony and enjoy cooking with the rosemary all year round. I wish more people would consider options for trees that don’t need to be disposed of at the end of the season and can continue on with a life. What about buying a potted pine tree that can be used year after year, or at least planted when done?

    • Melissa @ HerGreenLife says:

      Love the rosemary bush idea. My MIL does something similar, decorating either a potted lemon tree or other decent-sized potted plant. At least many places have decent options for composting the trees now. If you live somewhere without a municipal tree collection, I like the ideas in this post.

  3. Pingback: Mindful holidays | Her Green Life

  4. Pingback: Aerial fun | Her Green Life

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