During the holidays, I strive to make sure my gifts reflect my love and appreciation, for the recipients as well as the planets. Here are 10 ideas for great, unique gifts you can give that are still respectful and mindful of this big beautiful world we live in!
(1) Shop Local! For those who are harder to shop for, give a gift certificate to your favorite local business. Check your local Chamber of Commerce website for listings of the businesses in your area.
(2) Give the gift that keeps on giving: membership to your favorite local non-profit! CSERC is one of a kind in our region, and members know that their donations and support are being used effectively in our local community. A one-time $30 donation makes you or a friend a CSERC member! Check out our website for more information by clicking here.
(3) Field Guides are a great way to pique someone’s interest in their local flora and fauna! Being able to recognize and identify local species adds a challenge to even the smallest outings, including those into your own yard or neighborhood, as well as trips into the National Forest and Wilderness. Field guides encourage people to pay closer attention to detail, and I personally found myself seeing a lot more things “for the first time” once I bought my first field guide. A good all-around guide for the Sierra Nevada is John Muir Law’s Guide to the Sierra Nevada. It includes beautiful illustrations and identification tips for over 2000 species of flora and fauna in the Sierra. The Sibley series of guides cover a wider region, including the Central Valley and Sierra Nevada. The options are endless, so shop around. Encourage friends and loved ones to take a close look at the world outside and learn to identify local species by giving them a Field Guide this holiday season!
(4) Native seeds make a great gift for your friends with green-thumbs, and even those without! Native plants usually require less care and attention since they are already adapted to the local conditions. Many of them will naturalize and not require any care at all after they’ve established themselves. Native plants help attract pollinators and provide habitat for many native species With so many gorgeous native species with so many benefits, why plant anything else?
(5) Found wood can be used for a diversity of gifts. This website suggests adding a few hooks and a wall mount to your favorite piece of driftwood to make a coat rack. My personal favorite is to use found wood, acorns, leaves, feathers, whatever catches your eye to decorate or build my own photo frames. Put your own artwork, or your favorite photo from your outdoor adventures in your own home-made frame! Thrift stores often have old frames that could use some sprucing up, or you can salvage the glass and other important parts to supplement your own construction idea.
(6) Another great DIY idea: an eyeglass case made out of an old tie! This website has more details. Find your favorite funky, unique tie and with a bit of glue and even some sewing if you’re feeling ambitious, and you’ve got a unique, upcycled eyeglasses case!
(7) For our green-thumbed friends, plant a few bulbs in a pot, place the catch pan on top like a lid, wrap a bow around it and you’ve got a beautiful, long-lasting gift! If you’re feeling creative, get a plain clay pot and decorate it, or even give the recipient a small paint kit with a few brushes so she can decorate it herself! Some suggestions for successfully growing bulbs can be found on the California Native Plant Society Website.
(8) Membership to a local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) means your giftee will get weekly or bi-weekly boxes of fresh locally sustainably grown produce. Some programs are only for the summer, and others year round, so shop around and decide which one is right for you. In Tuolumne and Calaveras counties, Outer Aisle Foods, Red Earth Farm and Blue Oak Farm all offer CSA memberships.
(9) Give the gift of a pass to one of your local parks and your friend or loved one will be able to visit their favorite park whenever they want! The National Parks Pass is only $80 and is good for a year at all National Parks and Federal Recreation lands. If you prefer the California State Parks, the passes are a bit more expensive at $195 for a year. Both passes are good for a year from the date of purchase. Passes to individual parks are also available, such as a year long pass to Yosemite National Park for $40 a year.
(10) Sign up your giftee for a field course at a nearby Community College. Columbia College in our local area offers courses in Wildflower Identification, Mushroom Identification, and a wide variety of destinations for Field Geology courses (I’ve gone all the way to Lava Beds, Mount Shasta, the Tahoe Basin, and even Death Valley with Columbia College!) Field classes are a great excuse to get outdoors and learn about the world around us, and an opportunity to connect with community members. Check your local community college catalog to see what courses they offer!
There are lots of great ideas for gifts floating around on the internet, and I’m sure you have some of your own. Get creative this holiday season and give gifts with meaning!
-Megan, CSERC Blogger