A Green Hedonist Christmas Wishlist for (Insert Year)

| December 21, 2013 | 0 Comments

Well, I had some high-falutin’ ideas about publishing a big list of greenly hedonistic holiday gift ideas, but that didn’t quite pan out.  So I thought I’d share my own perennial answers to the question, “What do you want for Christmas?”  It may not be too late for you to spring these on someone in your gift-giving circle who is still looking sideways at you, trying to figure out what to put under your tree.  And if it is too late, well, there’s always next year.  And birthdays.  Flag Day.  Michelle Obama’s Birthday. And so on.

Something Yummy and Sustainable to Savor

I love good food (in case you didn’t know by now.)   I especially love good food that is raised well, supports local farmers, supports organic agriculture, or otherwise does something good in addition to making my mouth happy.  Organic grocery stores, the upscale deli section of normal grocery stores, gourmet shops, kitchen supply stores, farmer’s markets, your state’s guide to who-grows-what (ours is Colorado Proud) and The Google are all good sources to find things like this.

Local, Sustainable, or Organic Cheeses.  We are fortunate to have a lot of folks in Colorado producing amazing cheese; there are far too many to list.  I can, however, start with MouCo, Haystack Mountain, Avalanche, Jumpin’ Good Goat Dairy, and Fruition Farms.

Grass-fed, Local, or other Humane Meat Products.  Again, we are fortunate to have a state where small farms and ranches are raising great meat and poultry. There are also great packaged things, like Organic Prairie (organic) and Boulder Sausage (local).

Fruits and Vegetables and Such.  This isn’t as weird as it sounds. Gift me a box of Organic Honey Crisp Apples and I follow you around like a loyal puppy for life. Look for locally- and regionally-grown herbs, dried mushrooms, nuts, seeds, grains, etc.  (Scope them out in the summer at farmers’ markets and ask how you can get their wares in the dead of winter.

Chocolate and other Sweet Treats:  More and more cities are sprouting homegrown chocolatiers like Ritual Chocolate (Colorado) and Theo (Seattle), and a dizzying array of confectioners.

Pickled, Preserved, and Bottled Things.  We have a wealth of micro-companies producing delicious treats, from amazing jams to local honey to pickles. My ongoing addiction is to the pickles made by my fave The Real Dill, which are addictive as hell.

Something Yummy and Sustainable Delivered to Me

Here in Colorado, and in a growing number of major markets nationwide, there is a growing business around organic grocery delivery.  For example, the company Door to Door Organics hooks up with farmers to bring fresh, organic produce and natural groceries right to your doorstep.  You can buy someone a gift card or a week’s worth of delicious stuff they didn’t have to fight the store crowds for. Priceless.

Something Yummy and Sustainable That Supports a Local Farmer

Community Supported Agriculture, or farm shares, is a great way to get a steady supply of delicious produce AND help support the farmer who grows it by ensuring a market for him/her crop.  Every week the recipient would go pick up a box full of the freshest seasonal stuff ripening at that time – amazing stuff.

Something Handmade by Real Humans

In every community past a certain size, you’re going to find people who create something and sell it as an income stream.  Just in a three-block radius of my house, I know two jewelry makers, a seamstress, an oil painter, and several people who sell cool creations on Etsy.com.  Keep your eyes and ears open for these people; go to craft fairs and art shows; talk to small shops that might sell such things and ask them who they know.

Don’t hesitate to branch out from your local area.  The painting on my wall by the Oklahoma artist Linda Israel is one of my prize possessions, and it was a gift.

Something Sold Locally by People I Know

The above painting was purchased at a small gallery in my town, so not only did its purchase support the artist, a real human, but it also supported the gallery, and its owner and employees, who live locally.  Eschew chains and put your money right into the pockets of your neighbors and your community, even if it costs a few dollars more.  It comes back around in many ways.

Something Made by Hand for Me by the Gift Giver

This is like the holy grail of gifts for me, very rare but always zings an arrow into my heart.  That I am worth someone’s time and creativity means so much to me.  It doesn’t have to be artistic or fancy — it can be as simple as some cookie mix (to make my own hot cookies when I’m jonesin’), something from the garden, or homemade bath and body stuff.  Last year my niece made me a Christmas bracelet made from sparkly green and red pipe cleaners, and I think I wore it around until it fell apart.

An Experience or an Adventure

This can be as simple as a dinner at a new spot, a pass to a museum or event, or pairing lunch at a new place with a Spa Finder gift certificate for a massage (you know who you are, ye who turned me on to this!! XOXOX).   Or it can be as complicated as a rail pass on Amtrak or a Groupon for a stay at a schmancy hotel.

Whatever your desired level of involvement, the formula you can follow is simple:

Figure out what your recipient really likes to do or would really like to see


Locate a venue where these things take place. Scope it out for ideas.


Grease the skids with a coupon, pass, or gift card (it’s a gift, after all)


Wrap it all up in something cool. For a trip, you could tuck it all into a guidebook for the destination.  For an event, print out the promotional poster or blow up the description in the newspaper and paste it into a card.  For a sporting event, wrap it in a team T-shirt or hat.

Get the idea?

Examples:   A few years ago, for our seventh wedding anniversary, I gave the Husband a day pass on the light rail system (and bought one for myself).  I attached a map to seven stops where we could hop off and enjoy something cool before getting back on and continuing the adventure:  A place that served a mean brunch, beers at a favorite watering hole, tickets to a play in the Theater District, dessert at a little late-night cafe.  It was a super-memorable day.

I have also given friends a box full of fun:  A winter version might be an inner tube for tubing/sledding, a map to good sledding spots nearby, canister of really good hot cocoa mix, a pair of scarves and a bottle of peppermint schnapps.

People can give me an adventure or an experience or a day trip like that any day of the week, and I will be thrilled beyond belief.

Teach Me Something, or Gift Me a Class to Learn Something Cool

I love learning new stuff.  You know how to do stuff I don’t (make kombucha, build a bookshelf, pick out a used car).  Teach me!   Or check out the local adult education outlet or other sources and pick out a class that you think I’ll like.  Thai cooking.  Wine & chocolate pairing.  Travel writing.  Meditation.  Learning how to paint.  You can even make it part of an adventure by pairing it with a beer and a plate of nachos.  Seriously, the gift that keeps on giving.  I may even make a Thai dinner for you. After I meditate, of course.

Make A Charitable Donation in My Name

I always have far more charities I’d like to support than I have dollars to go around, and I just love it when someone gives on my behalf (not everyone likes this, but I do).  In specific, I like supporting things that don’t just throw a wad of cash at a cause or effort (though money is always needed) but do something very specific.  Just a couple of great ideas from that category:

Changing the Present.  A database of sorts, where you can find charities that match your recipient’s passions with an organization who needs them.

Heifer International:  Amazing specific gifts that keep giving.  For example, for $30 you can give a honeybee operation for a family, including bees, hive, box, and beekeeping training.  This not only provides income from the sale of honey, but also helps with pollination of the family’s crops, increasing food yields.  You can also give goats, pigs, chickens, rabbits, and gifts of other kinds, such as sustainable agriculture and funding girls’ education.

Seva Foundation: Again, very tangible things, not just throwing money at a big  issue but supporting individual projects around vision, water, health, etc.  For example, for $1500 you can sponsor an eye camp in remote regions of Nepal, Tibet, and Cambodia, where with a simple operation you can restore sight to as many as 30 blind people.  (You can also buy a share of an eye camp, eyeglasses, or other vision-related gifts for much less.)  Seriously, what could be more directly gratifying than something like that?  Before your gift: People can’t see their children.  After your gift: People can see their children.  Wild.

There are many, many, many programs like this all over the world.  It should not be hard to find one that warms your heart to support.

* * * * *

Oh, I could go on.   But I won’t.   Just know that giving something like this — something that matters, that shows you gave thought and tenderness and creativity to your gift-giving — will make you a rockstar.  You can be a living legend, or you can give another hunk of cheap plastic crap mass-produced in China.

Depends on who you’re giving to, and what matters to them.   For me, it’s something different, something lasting, something green, something delicious.

That’s what’s on my list.

Happy holidays, everybody.




Category: Fun, Local, Organic, Products (Green and hedonistic), Sustainable, Useful Stuff

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