Couple exhanging gifts.

How to Gift Responsibly

Giving gifts is the best part of the holiday season. If you are like me, you LOVE to give the special people in your life something to show them how much they mean to you. So we strive to find the most extravagant thing we can afford to wrap up in pretty paper. And more is better right? I know my brother and I used to examine our gift piles under the tree to make sure they were of equal size. Gift giving these days can fill our arms, but may leave our hearts empty. Big stores are filled with mass produced gifts made in sweatshop factories from all over the world. They are a dime a dozen and most of them will fall apart by the new year. So maybe it's time to ask ourselves, “what's more important, the amount of gifts or the quality of them?”. When you are making a list and checking it twice this year remember these simple rules to responsible gift giving.

Less is more

Of course we want to shower our loved ones with gifts, but maybe we can just sprinkle them instead. If your budget is thirty dollars you could buy a scarf, hat and mittens set at your local Target. But what about buying one hand made, real wool, high quality scarf instead? The type of item that someone keeps for the rest of their lives because it lasts forever and actually keeps them warm.

Think Local

Towns all over the country have amazing main streets filled with small businesses and artisans. They have unique, one of a kind gifts that will scream “you are special” as soon as your friends and family open them. Don’t have time to go walking the streets of your hometown? That's okay there are many websites that bring small business to you. Check out sites like Etsy and ArtFire to find that special something. Even Amazon has a handmade section now.

Go Green

Sure, unwrapping presents is half the fun of getting them, but gift wrapping waste is a major problem in this country. Last year, Americans threw away about 4 million pounds of wrapping paper, ribbons, and gift bags. Thats a lot of trash. But if you just can’t bare to give a naked gift, try wrapping paper made from recycled materials. You could even consider using daily household items earmarked for the trash anyway, such as newspaper. If you are feeling extra giving try making the wrapping something functional such as a reusable shopping bag, or basket.

Taking these few steps will allow you to give without the guilt. Keep our earth green, our hearts filled, and our local business flourishing by gifting responsibly this year.

Anna Mahoney is a Licensed Acupuncturist with a Bachelor's Degree in Nutrition from Rutgers University. In her practice, she focuses on bringing her patients back to health through Chinese Medicine, nutritional counseling, and overall wellness care. In her personal life, she is a passionate cook, musician, yogi, and athlete. Anna lives in New Jersey, with her husband, John, and their dog, Betty. Anna blogs at The Green Banana.