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  • Draw names for family giving so everyone just gives one person a gift instead of buying for everyone. Nearly every family who switches to this method loves it!
  • Pick a friend who you know will be receptive, and agree not to exchange gifts. Go out for dinner or drinks or a night at the movies instead.
  • When a friend or family member says they “don’t want any more stuff,” take them seriously.
  • If your spouse or partner agrees (very important!), give each other practical gifts you would have bought anyway, such as tools, kitchen stuff or a laptop computer.
  • “Experience gifts” cut waste. If you can find businesses and organizations that offer gift certificates or tickets at a discount – for restaurant meals, massages, plays, concerts, sports events and more – you can also save money. It never hurts to ask – maybe they will give you a 10 or 20 percent discount.
  • Expand your concept of making a gift. It can include repurposing, repackaging, repairing or restoring. Use your talents such as writing or drawing. Create decorative or edible items. Some ideas:
    • Turn colorful salvaged kitchen tiles into coasters or trivets or have your kids paint old light-switch cover plates.
    • Decorate a small pot with paint or decoupage, and put a houseplant in it.
    • Find picture frames at thrift stores, decorate them (or not) and add a special photo.
    • Write something meaningful about your family for your parents or children, embellishing it with photos, ticket stubs and other memorabilia.
    • Make a family history by recording interviews of elderly family members or putting together a scrap book of old pictures.
    • If you celebrate Hanukkah, make a menorah from salvaged or natural materials as a fun family project. That symbolic nine-branched candleholder lends itself to creative interpretations.
    • Give homemade or homegrown food, a practical present that many on your list would surely appreciate.
  • If you're not sure what to give someone, gift cards can be a greener gift rather than just taking a wild guess at what they want. The recipient gets exactly what they desire, which usually reduces waste.
  • If you know the recipient is okay with it, shop thrift stores external link or consignment shops. You can often find more distinctive gifts and get more for your money. 
  • Offer your time or skills. Make your own gift certificates for a special dinner, or to help around the house or in the garden.
  • Volunteer external link in someone’s name, instead of giving a material gift.
  • Donate external link in someone’s name.
  • Consider the long-term environmental effects of gifts, such as appliances or electronics. When you do give those items, choose energy-efficient Energy Star-certified products external link .
  • Do the recipient and the planet a favor and choose well-made, durable gifts.
  • Before giving cookies or candy as gifts or treats, make sure the recipients want them. Research shows that 20 percent of all candy gets tossed out uneaten.
  • Homemade or homegrown food usually makes a great gift, but once again make sure it’s something they will eat. Plan and start early so you don’t stress yourself our too much at the last minute. This goes for making your own soap, candles or potpourri, too. Use reusable storage containers or tins for your homemade items.
  • Local farmers markets are great places to find food gifts. Several markets are open in December, including the Ballard, Broadway, University District  and West Seattle markets in Seattle.
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King County Solid Waste Division mission: Waste Prevention, Resource Recovery, Waste Disposal