- Instead of getting something for everyone on your list, draw names with your friends and family and arrange to get one large, more expensive item for the person whose name you drew. You end up buying less overall and using less gift wrap, plus this method can also save on shopping stress (bonus!).
- Avoid the urge to buy little extras and stocking stuffers by setting an agreed-upon budget.
- For the foodies on your list, consider getting them locally sourced items instead of ordering food items and gift baskets that have to be shipped from elsewhere. Some items to consider are sweets from a local chocolatier, pastries from an artisanal bakery, domestic wine, and microbrewery beer. In Vancouver, the Granville Island Public Market is always a great place to shop for one-of-a-kind food gifts.
- Give someone a gift card or cash. Often at this time of the year people feel compelled to get someone a gift, and because of stress or lack of time, or simply because they don't know the recipient well, the recipient ends up getting something inappropriate or something they'll hardly ever use. Gift cards and cash don't require wrapping, and people can always spend them on items they actually need later on.
- Instead of buying something for someone, cook them a special meal, take them out for dinner, or get them tickets to a play or show. These gifts are more about thoughtful gestures and quality time together than exchanging "stuff."
- Wrap gifts loosely in tissue paper and reusable gift bags instead of gift wrap, which can only be used once (unless you're one of those types who recycles gift wrap, which, let's face it, never looks the same because it's all creased and crinkled).
- To save energy, forego doing your own Christmas lights display at your house and go to a public lights festival. Two standouts in Vancouver are the VanDusen Garden Festival of Lights and Bright Nights in Stanley Park; proceeds from both go to charity.
- Send e-cards instead of paper greeting cards.
- Likewise, create photo albums on Facebook Flickr, or picasaweb instead of printing out photos.
Happy holidays everyone! Solo Lisa y Nada Mas will be taking a break to spend time with friends and family, unwind, hit up the Boxing Week sales, and do NYE in style.