With all of the hustle and bustle of of the holiday season well under way it’s easy to get caught up in all of the festivities and hype. There are the parties, the decorating and the shopping to find the perfect gift for everyone on your list. As you celebrate this season don’t forget to be kind to yourself and kind to the earth. Rather than brave the crowds in the malls and shops, consider putting on a cup of tea and making gifts for your loved ones that require few resources and come directly from the heart. Here are a few suggestions:

A Recipe Book: Create a collection of your favorite recipes and put them together into a cookbook. You can send them electronically, or print out the pages on pretty paper and insert them into a three-ring binder. You can decorate the cover by making a collage out of attractive and interesting food packaging. Add photos of Aunt Betty or Grandma, the original recipe holder; to really personalize it. The recipient will love it!

Tasty Treats: Make a gift basket of homemade jams, antipastos, spreads, pickled fare or baked goods. With all of the company dropping in, who couldn’t use a basket of yummy treats? You can place the items in a beautiful basket or use a colander, roasting pan or cooking pot that is also part of the gift.

Handmade Crafts: Are you a knitter? A sewer? A wood worker? A painter? A crafter of any kind? Most of us who aren’t crafty have immense admiration for those of you who can create beautiful things out of a piece of yarn and a couple of sticks, some pine cones or blocks of wood. Dazzle us with your creativity!

Music: Do you play an instrument or sing? Perhaps you could offer to provide the entertainment at a party, or give music lessons to someone who enjoys listening to your music. Share the gift of your talents!

Childminding: Any parent knows the value of a worry-free night out! Make a voucher for your childminding services to friends in need of an evening out on the town or better yet, offer to have the kids stay over night at your place so the parents can enjoy a luxurious morning to sleep in!

Plants: If you are a green thumb and are the master of propagation, give a clipping of your most beautiful house plants. Or, give some of your prized seeds saved from last year’s veggie crop and a beautifully handwritten note on how to start plants from seed to inspire a future gardener.

If you really don’t have the time or inclination to get crafty, consider ethical and sustainable gift giving.

Donation: Make a donation to a charity near and dear to the recipient’s heart, in their name.

Green Cleaners: Put together a gift basket of green household cleaners, cloths and biodegradable garbage bags. One less thing to think about at spring cleaning time!

Non-Toxic Personal Care Products: Make a basket of natural and organic personal care items like shampoos, soaps, lotions, cleansers, toothpaste, make-up and deodorant. Nothing says “I care” more than paraben-free products!

Organic Food: There are amazing organic food finds in your local shops or farmers markets. Tasty dips, spreads, jams, honey, pastas, sauces, chocolates and seasonings. You can often find these baskets pre-made during the holiday season or you can make one of your own themed baskets. Throw in some accessories or cookbooks for the cooking enthusiast on your list.

Also, try to look for items that are made of recycled content and that are recyclable after use. Also, supporting local business (rather than big box stores) in your communities both strengthens your local economy and may reduce costly and unnecessary greenhouse gas emitting transportation. Forego the gift card and paper and use a reusable shopping bag or an attractive pillowcase.

When shopping for gifts for children try to avoid toys that require batteries. Rather than buying “stuff” buy them a gift they can experience like tickets to a play or musical production, entrance to a museum or aquarium, lessons or a sporting event.

Our wish for you is that you can find yourself a quiet refuge from the noise and chaos and enjoy some quiet thoughts of the year gone by, the ones you love, new arrivals and perhaps the ones you’ve lost and remember that it’s the everyday events and people in our lives that are the greatest gifts of all. Happy Holidays!