Last year, the Nature Conservancy created Green Gift Monday, an effort to get people to pledge to make a donation, create a gift or do some do-it-yourself project instead of buying holiday gifts. The day was so successful — and raised awareness of the impact that overbuying has on the earth — that this year’s Green Gift Monday is scheduled for November 28, 2011.


If homemade gifts sound intimidating, try these ideas, which also are easy on the environment.


Projects with kids: Photo frames

There are many variations on this popular kid-friendly craft project, including using popsicle sticks, cardboard and sticks, and other found objects such as dried beans and uncooked pasta. You can make one unique handcrafted photo frame with two egg cartons, cardboard, gold paint and other trinkets. These frames are perfect for grandparents, and other faraway relatives and friends.


For more information, check out these instructions via


Food gift: Peppermint bark

This delicious holiday treat can be packaged in recycled containers to add a festive touch. Though the recipe calls for use of a double boiler, it is easy and fun to make with children, especially hammering candy canes.


  1. Place candy canes in a plastic bag and hammer into small chunks. Make enough to yield 1 cup.
  2. Melt 2 pounds of chocolate (white, milk or dark) in a double boiler.
  3. Combine candy cane pieces and chocolate, and pour onto cookie sheet layered with wax paper.
  4. Leave in refrigerator for 45 minutes or until firm. When ready, break the bark into pieces.

Holiday party hostess gift: Candle holders

Making this cool gift literally takes 5 seconds. Put an old CD in the microwave on high for 5 seconds (and watch the spark effects!).  Add a candle. Make several, and present them in the gift bags or cardboard boxes that you have saved.


Turn a black thumb to green: Garden starter kit

For a friend, coworker or family member who admires your commitment to the environment, put together a kit that includes organic soil, compost, seeds, gardening gloves and other must-haves to encourage him or her to cultivate the earth. Some gardening gloves and equipment are even made with recycled materials such as plastic and wood waste.


For everything: Festive holiday gift wrap

Create your own gift wrap from:


  • paper bags decorated with crayons, markers or glitter
  • newspaper comics
  • scrap felt or fabric
  • old colorful T-shirts
  • old towels (especially if the gift is bath- or water-related)

For anyone: Adopt-a…

To truly make an impact on the earth and its people, participate in one of the several programs in which your donation goes toward the preservation of a specific animal or piece of land to assist with its preservation. Similar programs allow you to purchase an animal or item to help an impoverished person, family or organization become self-sufficient. A few popular choices are Heifer International Inc., where you can purchase a heifer, sheep, llama or other animal; and Audubon International and the Nature Conservancy, where you can adopt and care for a piece of land. Some environmental organizations also allow you to purchase carbon offsets to fund programs that reduce greenhouse gas emissions. These are gifts that keep on giving.


Have other suggestions for do-it-yourself or eco-friendly gifts to give for Green Monday? Leave us a note in the comments below.


Also, if you’d like to spread the word on Twitter, use the Green Gift Monday hashtag, #GGM2011.