Thursday, July 25, 2013

GREEN Gifting Ideas

Recently someone in my office asked me for advice on gifts.  I always try to be thoughtful in my gift-giving, and it's no surprise I try to give GREEN in most situations.  There are hundreds of environmentally-friendly gift ideas out there.

Spring through Fall, the garden nursery or garden center is my favorite GREEN gift resource.  Here's my brief guide for various gifting situations:

Real Estate Closings
I've been known to give hydrangea bushes as a real estate closing gift to clients who told me they loved the blossoms, or would miss the beautiful hydrangea they'd planted at their old house. For houses with hooks on the front porch begging for plants, I've brought over beautiful hanging baskets. If it's off-season, I've provided a gift certificate to a local garden center so the new owners could purchase plants when planting season comes up.  In the Fall I've given bags of Spring bulbs to plant, along with bulb planters and garden gloves, or potted mums to brighten their doorsteps.

In the event that my clients do not fall into the category of those who enjoy planting/yard work, a bottle of good organic wine has taken the place, and at one time I did buckets of non-toxic cleaning supplies for move-in day.

Adventure Vests!
Christenings & First Communions
As long as there are no allergies, I've given raspberry canes to plant for little ones.  Blueberries are lovely too, but they require a 2nd bush in order to fruit, so if you're going in that direction, make sure you have 2 blueberry bushes.  It's very sweet to get a call the next Summer and hear that little Olivia is picking her own raspberries in the yard and they're delicious!

Party Favors
We hosted a garden-themed birthday party one year and the party favors were flower seed packs and sturdy plastic trowels.  They were a big hit and we hear that thanks to us there were lots of nasturtium, morning glories & marigolds in everyone's yards that summer!

Birthdays & Anniversaries
I've been known to bring a rose bush for birthdays & anniversaries, and I have a neighbor who plants a tree or specimen bush for each anniversary.  Their yard is like a park!  I knew another family who planted a flowering pear tree for each of their grandchildren one year for their birthdays, and the children came to help "take care" of their trees.  We've given bluebird houses and I've seen bat boxes given as gifts.  I've given young children gardening baskets of tools, seeds, aprons & garden ornaments and they've just loved them, as well as the makings of a fairy container garden that I assembled myself, though the garden centers now sell pre-made kits.  My little one is currently growing cactus she got in a biodome kit.  My 9 yr old is fascinated with carnivorous plants at the moment, so I imagine that a pitcher plant or venus fly trap might hold interest to other budding scientists like mine.

The "adventure vests" (technically they're fishing vests) have been one of the GREEN-themed gifts that gets the most use for us.  I got them from LL Bean for the kids and a little friend for Christmas one year, ordered them a size or 2 larger than needed.  The larger ones come with a built-in whistle and we attached magnifying glasses, little flashlights & carabinieres.  The kids filled the zippered pouches with bandaids, observation notebooks, ziplock bags for collecting things... you get the idea.  My little ones still wear them all the time for any outdoor/discovery activities.  If you saw our photos from the Great Park Pursuit then you saw the vests in every photo!  Other friends have liked them so much that they've gone out and bought them too.  You don't have to go to LL Bean, they're pretty easy to find!

Another very well-received gift has been membership to science centers/children's museums.  With the reciprocal programs available through the Association of Science-Technology Centers, membership to one science center includes admissions to approximately 200 other participating science centers across the country.  This one is a little pricey though, but a great family-friendly gift, and so educational.  One year, in lieu of other gifts (because do we really need more toys?) we asked the grandparents for an ASTC membership and planned trips based upon the locations of the science museums we really wanted to visit.

Visiting science museums using our reciprocal membership!
Thank You & Appreciation Gifts
My favorite Administrative Assistant has always enjoyed receiving plants and this year I mixed it up and gave her potted herbs for her garden. I was thrilled to see that this year, in lieu of cut flowers for the directors and team involved with the school & local musical productions, that potted flowers and hanging baskets were handed out to be planted at home.

In Honor Of/In Memory Of
Some towns have memorial gardens where you can buy a plaque or a brick and have it inscribed with the name of your loved one and the proceeds go to maintenance of the garden.  In some places you can even buy a bench.  I know of several people who have planted their own memorial gardens or trees honoring family members.  We even had a rhododendron planted in our yard for many years in remembrance of a beloved family dog - it was called the Sadie Bush.  They're all really lovely ideas.      

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