As I sit at my desk in Helena, Montana, the scene outside my office window is right off of a Currier and Ives Christmas card. The prevalent color is white, from sky to trees to roofs to road and everything in between. A pile of wrapped gifts sits on the floor next to me, waiting for just a few more things to arrive in the mail before they are sent off to children and grandchildren next week.
Planning for, shopping for and creating gifts are a big part of my December celebration, but holiday shopping can be particularly problematic for people with chemical sensitivities. Though I'm a strong advocate of shopping locally, much of this years gifts have been purchased online. When I have ventured into a local store, it's been first thing in the morning on a week day, and many stores I avoid all together due to those evil scented pine cones that so many of them carry this time of year.
Needless to say, none of the gifts I've purchased this year have any scent. However, I have tried to go beyond just "unscented," looking for items that are useful, needed and as non-toxic as possible. I've not been 100% successful, and I'm certainly not pointing to myself as the best example, but here are some of the gifts I'm giving this year (without being too specific so as to maintain an element of surprise).
Piggy Paint "Natural as Mud" non-toxic nail polish & remover, for the five-year-old granddaughter who just has to have her toenails painted.
Glass mixing & storage bowls for a new homeowner (she's already received them--just couldn't wait).
Organic cotton pajamas for the little ones.
Natural nuts in interesting bottles I've gathered, for the neighbors.
Organic free-trade chocolate, for the chocoholics in the family.
Several hand-crocheted hats, scarves and a pink sweater.
Doll clothes made from leftover cotton scraps.
Olive oil lamps (from Lehmans )
Homemade certificates for childcare services. (I got the templates from Microsoft online.)
Pottery from a local studio.
A sewing kit and embroidery kit (for two grandchildren) made up of several things from my own sewing basket.
Items purchased from the Great Old Broads for Wilderness fall auction.
And last, but definitely not least, books.
Books are a problem, because most of them really aren't non-toxic or very eco-friendly. However, I just can't NOT give books. So I compromise (somewhat). Several books I'm giving this year were purchased used, and most of the new ones are paper bound. [Unless they're hand-bound, hardbound books take more natural resources to produce and use more glue (nasty-nasty) than paper bound.] And all of the books are ones that I believe will be kept and treasured for years, not just looked at and left to gather dust.
Though I'm pretty much finished with shopping for this year, I'd love to have more ideas to add to my file for next year.