Holiday shopping (part 3): Simple, kind, low-cost, eco gift ideas

After reading my post on tips for shopping Black Friday and my wish list picks, I hope you're feeling the simple holiday spirit! Here are some additional practical, low-cost and eco-friendly gift ideas for everyone on your list.

Used books. Many books you find in the thrift store or used on Amazon are in like new condition, even best sellers. Maybe not everyone on your list would appreciate a used item, but I’m sure some would, especially if you went to the trouble to pick out something good.

Make a donation. For the person who truly has it all, consider making a donation to their favorite charity. My dad's a very simple guy. He asks for very little and loves it when I make a donation to his favorite charity each year. If you still want to give a traditional gift, bake some homemade goodies to go with it.

(Red) gift cards. It's likely at least one person on your list would love a gift certificate for Starbucks. Go out of your way to purchase their (Red) gift cards, which donate a portion of the purchase to help fight AIDS in Africa. The Starbucks (Red) card is pretty easy to find in most Starbucks locations. I reload my Starbucks (Red) card and use it all year long so my purchases help a good cause. If you are looking for something to go with the gift card, Starbucks offers (Red) travel tumblers as well as (Red) bags of coffee.

Vino! For a hostess gift, consider sustainable, organic and/or biodynamic wine. Wine stores, and even most grocery stores for that matter, offer a selection of these wines at all price ranges. No need to generate waste by gift bagging the wine. I just throw a gift tag that says "Drink me" around the bottle neck. Check out Bake It Pretty for adorable gift tags and twine.

My niece, Lillie, nephew, Steadman, and I decorating a gingerbread house a couple of years ago. I can't believe how much they've grown. Makes me want to spend more time with them.Activities. My young niece and nephew probably don't remember every gift they receive and who it came from, but I'm sure they remember the time we decorated a gingerbread house. They also might remember roasting marshmallows over the fire pit in my back yard earlier this year. I have a big family, and I can't afford to buy each kid a birthday and Christmas gift without going broke or buying something cheap and lame that will end up thrown away. So I try to spend quality time with them instead. Bake with kids for the holidays and you'll enjoy the experience as much as they do. Maybe even give to their parents by babysitting so they can do some holiday shopping.

Activities as gifts work great for adults as well. For example on Mother's Day, I took my mom to yoga class with me. For friends, commit to doing a race or walk in the New Year and sign up together in lieu of exchanging gifts.

Handmade gifts.  My crafty friend, Amber Karnes, shares a lot of her DIY ideas on her blog, My Aim Is True. One year, she gave me a jar filled with beans and spices to make soup as well as an adorable scarf made from upcycled wool sweaters she purchased at the thrift store. The soup was delicious, and I still wear the scarf. I love that handmade gifts are unique and unlike any others. 

What other simple gift ideas do you have for this holiday season? I'd love to hear about it in the comments. I hope you've enjoyed this three-part series on Black Friday and holiday shopping and are inspired to keep it simple, fun and meaningful this holiday season. I got these posts out early to help you prepare for the holidays. But let's not rush past Thanksgiving. We all have so many things to be thankful for. Take some time this week to really think about that. I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Chel Rogersonbudget