If your life is anything like mine, the month of December is an endless stream of holiday parties. A lot of the my friends are so busy between Thanksgiving and the holidays that we save our social gatherings until the beginning of the New Year (which has the added bonus of starving off those winter blues for another few weeks).
While I love a good party, I am always searching for something new and note worthy to bring to the host or hostess. If you are tired of all the old standards and want a bit more of an environmentally friendly gift, then read on! This isn’t to say your homemade cookies should be forgotten or that beautiful rum soaked fruit cake should be tossed, but these are just some suggestions on ways to compliment those homemade treats.
My first rule is to look for a host gift that they can either use immediately or for themselves later on after the last guest has gone home. This eliminates taking your host or hostesses time to arrange or fuss with while guests are mingling. Fresh flowers not in a vase or goodies that need to be plated or heated are a bit of a nuisance for someone who wants to enjoy their party. I always think food is a wonderful addition since it is one less dish your host needs to prepare. (To be courteous, ask what you can bring before hand. There are plenty of hosts out there who think your pigs in a blanket a bad match with the Beluga caviar!)
If food is on your mind too, why not give them food served on a nice platter? Green Bow Gifts in Branford, CT has some wonderful dip dishes and cheese platters made from recycled wine, liquor, and olive oil bottles. The bottles are melted flat, but retain the curves of the bottle. Some are melted with a bowl for dips, others flat like a board. Add some of your fresh made tapenade and crackers and you are ready to hit the party! Or try a selection of local cheeses. If you arrange the tray before hand, your host can just place it out on the hors d'oeuvres table.
If you like the recycled glass idea but not sure of food, The Juicy Pear Gift Shop in Bethel, CT carries vases made with recycled bottles as well. Just make sure you fill those vases with organically grown flowers from your local florist. They also carry neat bottle openers made from recycled bicycle chains. For a beer connoisseur host, why not add a cool six pack of organic beer and a new bottle opener?
If you want to feel really good about yourself this holiday season, you can purchase gifts that are green and socially responsible! One of my favorite stores is Ten Thousand Villages. You can find them throughout the US and Canada (and in New Haven and West Hartford here in Connecticut). You can also shop online, or stock up when you go to the city, like I do!
The store is extremely affordable, the products earth-friendly, and the quality is much better than most. They definitely have a bit of everything, a truly eclectic place! You can find anything from stocking stuffers to inexpensive host gifts and very expensive holiday presents. Any jewelry fan will adore this shop for their really unique, funky and great accessories that are well made with fine materials. They have a nice holiday section, where you can check out some of their ornaments. They also have bags and baskets to fill with organic fair trade chocolate, cocoa and coffee. If your host likes to entertain the whole year through, pick up napkin rings, place mats, coasters or other house wares.
Although, they have a "green section," most of what they make is already much more environmentally friendly than anything you would buy in other stores. Each piece is uniquely handmade. As an extra bonus, it also has an incredibly low carbon footprint. No plastic factories here! The store puts an emphasis on teaching native people how to use their environment and resources to build something beautiful thus creating prosperity for them and a ‘green’ product for the consumer.
One last note about the store, since things are not mass produced (so to speak) each item is unique and each store may carry different items than what you see online. For example, food items are not carried online but you can find them in the store
One last host idea (an oldie but never out of fashion)…candles! The darkest days are always made brighter with some nicely scented bright lights. Try some soy candles this year. Connecticut River Candles produces candles that are much more appealing to the environmentalist than petroleum based ones. Since soy is natural and renewable, it is a lot less harsh to harvest and when it burns, it is clean, has a lower carbon footprint and they last longer than their petroleum buddies.
Hope this gives you a few new suggestions (or ideas for your own home). And since some of the items are produced right here in Connecticut, why not support local sustainability and give these shops some business. I hope this season finds you with merriment, cheer and lots of green goodies!