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Make Christmas greener

While Elvis Presley had a “Blue Christmas” in mind when he recorded his 1957 seasonal hit, today’s environmentally conscious consumers think of “going green” for the holidays.

Eco-friendly and affordable decorations, gifts, wrapping paper, ribbons and greeting cards are available in stores. Brainstorming, budgeting and goal-setting can produce good ideas and make the process less stressful, said Bobbie Shaffett, family resource management specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service.

“Think reusable, recyclable and natural,” she said.

The first step to a greener holiday is a shopping budget that is simple, practical and affordable. The budget should reflect an amount to be spent that will not rack up debt.

“Having a stopping point is important,” she said. “A budget will not work if you ignore how much you’re spending.”

The next step is to create a recipient list. List all people who will receive a gift, a couple of choices for each person and the amount to be spent, said Grenell Rogers, Extension family resource management area agent in Oktibbeha County.

“If you overspend on one present, you’ll need to make up for it somewhere else to balance things out,” she said. “Before you spend a dime, step back and calculate how much you can afford as a portion of your overall budget.

Consumers have several resources to choose from in selecting a green gift. The receiver may appreciate tickets to an event, membership to a gym or spa, or a donation to a charity in honor of a loved one. Holiday plants such as poinsettias, chrysanthemums and Christmas cacti are gifts that fit in nearly any budget plan.

“Find a durable, energy-efficient gift that uses wind-up power or rechargeable batteries, especially on items for children,” Shaffett said. “Choose energy-efficient products such as florescent lights or low-flow shower heads.”

People also appreciate gifts from the kitchen, such as breads, cookies, dried fruits, drink mixes or roasted nuts. These gifts can be packaged in reusable tins, baskets or jars. Give products from a local beekeeper, such as honey, or a painting by a local artist.

“Write a letter with those home-baked goods or give a service certificate for work in the future,” Shaffett said. “You can promise the recipient one day of home handyman activity, gardening or spring cleaning.”

To make some green gifts even more earth-friendly, use old Christmas cards for tags, wrap in reusable gift bags or recyclable paper, and hand-deliver whenever possible to save energy.

Make gift-giving occasions festive by making punch and serving in beautiful bowls and pitchers rather than using beverages in cans or plastic bottles.

“Use your best china, glassware and cloth napkins to decorate your home,” Shaffett said. “It requires a little more work but it can reduce the amount of paper and trash you have to throw out later.”

Have a green Christmas that even Elvis would sing about.

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