Holiday Tips

Holiday Entertaining and Green Gift-Giving Tips

Do Away With Wrapping Paper!

  • Use old gift bags, boxes, newspaper, magazines, posters or pieces of fabric to disguise your gift.
  • Alternatively, hide the presents in the house and create a holiday gift hunt using clues.
  • For the even more adventurous, have your gift go naked!
  • Think of gifts that don’t have to be wrapped at all: tickets to concerts, museums, or sporting events, gift certificates, house plants, or even gifts of your own time.
  • When giving oversized gifts like bicycles or CD racks, instead of wrapping them in paper, just tie a bow around them.
  • Wrap gifts in old maps, newspapers, Sunday comics or fancy holiday gift bags that can be reused. Kids’ art work is a perfect wrapping for presents to proud grandparents.
  • Use brown paper grocery bags to wrap small-to-medium size boxes that have to be mailed.
  • Make the wrap a part of the gift: Putting cookies in a flower pot or hiding jewelry in a new pair of gloves will keep your gift under wraps and the “wrapping” out of the trash.

 Give Memories!

  • Contribute to someone’s lifelong nostalgia by purchasing tickets, season passes or memberships to local cultural, physical or professional events or organizations. Here are some ideas to consider:
    • Fremont Peak Observatory Association
    • Monterey Bay Aquarium
    • Yosemite Annual Pass
    • County Parks Annual Day Use Pass
    • California State Park Annual Day Use Pass
    • Monterey Museum of Art
    • National Steinbeck Center
    • Elkhorn Slough Gift Membership
    • Monterey County Agricultural & Rural Life Museum
    • Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk

 Give Gift Certificates!

  • Certificates reflecting a person’s interest or everyday needs can be a perfect way to ensure your gift is as useful as it is gracious.
  • For kids, start a savings account or give stocks or bonds. It’s fun to watch money grow and it teaches children the value of financial conservation.
  • Examples of gift certificates that will be appreciated:
    • Local Coffee House
    • Gardening Store/Nursery
    • Elegant Dinner / Favorite Restaurant
    • Music Store
    • Earth Friendly Products Store
    • Book Store/ Used Book Store
    • Grocery/Specialty Foods Store
    • Art Supplies Shop/ Gallery
    • Ice Cream Shop
    • Cultural Center
    • Sporting Goods/Outdoor Store
    • Hardware Store
    • Car Servicing
    • Car Washes
    • Movie Rental
    • Cinema / Theater
    • Prepaid Gasoline Cards
    • Music Concerts
    • Sporting Events
    • Symphony
    • Opera
    • Theater
    • Art Gallery/Museum
    • (Natural) History/Cultural Museum
    • Cultural Festival
    • Cinema
    • Movie Rental
    • Gym/Fitness Center/Health Club
    • Athletic Organization
    • Dancing Lessons
    • Martial Arts /Self Defense Training
    • Tai Chi/Yoga/Meditation Classes
    • Ski/Snowboarding Pass
    • Scuba Diving/Snorkeling Lessons
    • Whale Watching
    • Kayaking Tour of the Bay
    • Gardening Workshop
    • Vocational Training Workshop
    • Professional Workshop
    • Massage/Hot Spring
    • Art Class (Painting, Photography, Ceramics, etc)
    • Music Lessons (Instrument/Singing)
    • Writing/Poetry Course
    • Computer Training
    • Observatory/Planetarium
    • Tickets to a Local Special Event

Give the Gift of Time and Energy:

  • Spend a day with a special friend or relative on a choice adventure
  • Plan a picnic excursion
  • Plan an afternoon at a beach, park, etc.
  • Purchase (season) tickets to a local attraction, venue or team
  • Take a hike or camping trip
  • Go bird watching
  • Volunteer together with a local community group
  • Invite another to a local cultural event
  • Try a new sport or other activity with a friend for the first time
  • Share an evening watching the sunset
  • Offer a service gift (cleaning, cooking, babysitting, etc.)


  • Wrapping and Gift Tissue Paper (not foil, or cellophane type paper) can be recycled in your Curbside Recycling Bin.
  • Just remove excess tape and bows (save bows for reuse).
  • Don’t forget to recycle those holiday cards, excess magazines, catalogues, paper and cardboard.
  • When you get or give new electronics, recycle your old electronic items properly.

 Save for Next Time!

  • Set aside gift boxes, intact wrapping paper, gift tissue paper and bows.  Save these items and reuse them for future holidays, birthdays and parties.

 Limit the Lights!

  • LED light strings use 1/10 as much energy as incandescent lights. Light strands wired in parallel, rather than in series will save you from having to throw the entire string away if one bulb burns out.
  • Turn off your lights when you go to bed to save even more energy!

 Thoughtfully Choose & Recycle Your Christmas Tree!

  • Plastic trees can be reused for years to come, but will ultimately end up in a landfill.
  • If you choose a cut real tree, break it down into pieces and compost it your backyard or recycle it free of charge with your waste hauler.
  • A live tree can be planted or donated after the holidays.
  • Do not use tinsel or spray your tree with fake snow, as tinsel and white trees cannot be recycled.
  • Check with your local waste hauler or recycling organization for tree recycling information.

 For the things that you just can’t resist, Buy Recycled!

  • Always look for products that are made from Post-Consumer Recycled Content or consider green products that address other or additional environmental or social concerns.

 Give New-To-You Gifts!

  • Shop at Thrift Stores, Antique Shops, Flea Markets, Used Book Stores and the like for unique gifts that save resources by promoting reuse.
  • Make a dress-up kit for kids with old clothes and jewelry.
  • Create an idea-box for young inventors with tools and gadgets.
  • Adopt an animal from a local shelter
  • Refurbished/Repaired gifts


  • Donating to a charity in someone’s name shows not only your care for someone, but also your recognition of the values they cherish in their own lives.
  • Before and after the holidays in the spirit of giving, donate used items in good condition to local reuse organizations.

 For holiday gatherings

  • Compost your food waste. Fruits and vegetables and their peels, pits and seeds are all perfect for composting – a great natural fertilizer.
  • Use durable plates, cups, silverware and cloth napkins and table cloths. Rent from a party supply, or use your own.
  • Recycle empty bottles and cans. Show your guests where to recycle.


  • If you’re shopping by mail order catalogue, remember to cancel the catalogs you don’t need.  Remember, junk mail is recyclable!
  • During the nation’s busiest shopping season, bring your own shopping bags.
  • Consolidate your purchases into one bag rather than getting a new bag at each store on your shopping rounds.
  • When you buy electronic toys and other portable items that require batteries, buy rechargeable batteries to go with them.

 Reuse to prevent waste

  • Give gifts that encourage others to use less stuff, like a book about making crafts from reusable items, cookbook for leftovers, reusable shopping bags and reusable cups.
  • Give homemade food or something you’ve made yourself from reused items.
  • Be creative. Instead of buying placemats or table decorations, make your own. Cut old greeting cards into shapes and press between two pieces of clear contact paper.
  • Reuse packing cartons and shipping materials such as peanuts, wood shavings, shredded newspaper and bubble wrap.

 Holiday cards

  • Update and pare down your holiday card mailing list to reduce the number of cards you mail.
  • Send e-greetings to family, friends and business associates.