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December 18th, 2012 | By Alicia Silverstone

There are lots of ways to show love and appreciation during the holidays, and not all of them involve buying stuff. You can bake and share a kind recipe, offer to cook Christmas dinner, plan a special outing, take your family to the movies, help your family sort through the garage and donate old items, volunteer at an animal shelter, or offer to watch your neighbors’ pets while they’re away. The point is to be mindful of the needs of others.

Giving Gifts That Are Useful

If you do plan to give gifts, focus on things people need. Don’t we all have too much stuff anyway? There’s a great movie called The Story of Stuff that really shines a spotlight on this issue. I recommend checking it out if you haven’t seen it. I always look for gifts that are eco, healthy and useful.
When I approach gift giving, the first thing I ask myself is “do they know about healthy eating?” I consider what book they might love. Maybe The Kind Diet or possibly Engine 2,Meat is for Pussies,The China Study, orNo Impact Man (this last book isn’t about healthy eating but it’s just a great book). If they are not familiar with healthy foods, I may get them Vegenaise, Earth Balance and some Soy Delicious Turtle Trails Ice Cream. These are great foods to get newbies hooked on delicious, healthy alternatives to dairy products.
If they are already health-conscious, I may get them some umeboshi plums, high quality salt or olive oil, and aged 18 years balsamic vinegar. It’s yum and fun for foodies who love to cook. For the ladies, I might get some really yummy products for their skin like or make-up brushes like from Eco Tools. I think, “What do they already use that I can I vegan-ize or eco-ify?” I like to pick something that they will love so much that they’ll continue to purchase it.
For example, on opening night of The Performers, I gave the cast members eco-friendly versions of the items in their dressing rooms:
•  Vintage, organic cotton, and bamboo hand towels to use instead of paper towels
•  Crystal deodorant instead of mainstream brands
•  Recycled Seventh Generation tissue paper instead of regular tissues (I use a handkerchief when I feel the rare need to blow my nose, but these are a good option for people who use tissues, and they come in a pretty box)
•  Kiss My Face “Peace” hand soap that smells yum and 10% of profits go to Seeds of Peace”
• Toothpaste by Jasön
•  For the girls I got vibrators, in keeping with the theme of the play, and these were eco and pretty!
For more recent gifts, check out my 2015, 2016, and 2017 gift guides.
Essentially, gift-giving is a wonderful opportunity to inspire and excite people about the things that you love that is better for their health and the planet. If you’re on the hunt for kind gifts, my ultimate vegan gift guide includes a bunch of options.
Let Go of the Stress
Last but not least, if you’re stressed about gift shopping this season, try to let it go. There’s no need to get caught up in spending and giving a ton of stuff. If the expense and effort of shopping for gifts feels like a burden or obligation you don’t have to do it. Give what your heart wants to give, whether that means an act of kindness or a tangible gift handpicked or handmade by you for someone you love, or even gifting yourself a year or two off from the gift-giving business. Whatever feels best to you.
At the end of the day, the people who love you and whom you love wouldn’t want you to be stressed and they don’t care about presents that much. It’s the thought and consideration and love you give them that matters. So, don’t forget that, and really, you can give them that everyday.
Don’t forget to wrap your thoughtful gift eco-style!
What’s your approach to holiday gift giving? Share in the comments below.
Photo source: / Stevevoght

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