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Serious Green: Tips and Tricks for Greening Your Gifts

Note: Our gift-guide marathon continues. Still looking for that special something? Try our full complement of lists. —Ed.

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[Flickr: Or Hiltch]

As you start brainstorming how to check off each person on your holiday list, here are some tips, tricks, and ideas on how to make those presents just a little greener.

1. Give Homemade or Teach a Skill

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[Flickr: ndrwfgg]

You can't get much more local than your own kitchen. Try using local jam in your thumbprint cookies this year or organic flour in your cakes for an extra sustainable kick.

Think about what you know and give lessons. Got some oven chops? Give an aspiring baker the gift of your time and know-how by baking your famous cardamom bread or ginger cookies with them.

Get crafty. Try your hand at homemade beeswax candles for someone's dinner table. If you can draw, illustrate recipe cards for someone who loves to bake. For inspiration on more food-themed crafts, check out craft-centric blogs like Soule Mama, Cuteable, and Not Martha.

2. Give Someone Else's Homemade

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[Flickr: kwolder]

Not the crafty type? Don't feel like baking? Well, there are plenty of people out there happy to do your crafting and baking for you. Etsy is one-stop shopping for amazingly creative bakers, crafters, and artisans of all kinds.

3. Shop Your Farmers' Markets

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[Flickr: Dan Phiffer]

Local honey and jams, hand-spun yarns,or even a glass bottle full of local eggnog all make great gifts and stocking stuffers. In the last weeks before the holidays, many farmers' markets will add vendors for that extra-special holiday market feel.

4. Wrap It Up With Cloth

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[Photograph: wrapsacks.com]

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[Photo: Chewing the Cud]

If you bring wine to a holiday party, bring it in a WrapSack. Besides being so much cooler than a paper bag, these cloth bags are endlessly reusable and you can enjoy watching their progress from gifter to gifter at Track-a-Sack.

For wrapping up boxes of cookies and homemade goodies, try cloth wrapping paper. Chewing the Cud makes specially designed fabric wraps or make your own from colorful fabric easily purchased at a craft store.

5. Give Them a Flock of Chicks or Piglets

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[Flickr: Vicky TGAW]

Donate to a good cause in their name. Heifer International is a great choice for charitable minded foodies. For just $20 you can give a family a flock of chicks that will grow up to give them eggs. For your bacon-crazy friend, give a pig for $120 or a share of one for $10.

Or on the more extravagant end, how about a Milk Menagerie that includes a heifer, two goats, and a water buffalo? Along with the gifts, Heifer provides training to make sure these animals will provide nutrition, nourishment, and income for these families for years to come.

Another great cause to support is the Farm Sanctuary in Watkins Glen, New York. The Sanctuary rescues farm animals from factory farms and gives them lifelong, loving care.

More Gift Guides: Find Something for...

the Sweet Tooth »
the Coffee Lover »
the Meat Lover »
the Hot Dog Lover »
the Cookbook Reader »
the Chocolate Lover »
New Yorkers Actual and Expatriate »
Gluten-Free Cooks and Eaters »
an Officemate or Casual Acquaintance »

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