25 Eco-Friendly Holiday Business Gift Ideas

The challenge is on. With our wallets a little thinner these days and the environment in need of our protection, here are a few ways to help both this year. There is a way to enjoy this traditional gift buying season with a new revolutionary practice. By just making a few changes to your buying styles and habits you can have a considerable impact with little effort.

It's fairly easy—follow some of the gift ideas below and enjoy the satisfaction of being part of the green movement by greening your business gifts and keeping some greenbacks in your budget. Make it a truly "green" holiday this year.

Remember to give gifts that people need and can use. And be creative!

1. Tickets to movies, concerts, museums, sporting events, outdoor activities or an annual pass to national parks.

2. House or garden plants, herbs, seeds, and bulbs. These could be packaged with pots or planter boxes made from natural ingredients.

3. Gift certificates to clothing, electronics, or book stores.

4. Donate to one or more charities in the name of your recipient.

5. Give the gift of you. Make coupons for services and skills related to your professional or even personal life, depending on your relationship with the recipient. It could be anything from event planning services to help writing a resume or giving a computer lesson.

6. Shop at antique stores, estate sales, or flea markets for treasures such as an old book or collector's item—things with unique and personal meaning.

7. Prepare home-baked sweets and present them in a reusable tin or other useful item.

8. Any homemade item is always welcome—knit a hat or scarf or make a pair of earrings.

9. Fair-trade organic chocolate or coffee. Always a favorite!

10. Clothes and other items made from hemp, wool, or organic cotton.

11. A roll or two of customized postage stamps—information is available at www.usps.com.

12. Chic office supplies made from recycled paper or other environmentally friendly materials, such as pencils from Forest Stewardship Council certified wood.

13. Energy efficient light bulbs, battery rechargers, or solar-powered products.

14. First aid kits or emergency road-side equipment.

15. Board and card games that will be used over and over again.

16. For your children, you can open a savings account or buy stocks or bonds.

17. A gasoline gift card.

18. A calendar marked with important dates, such as birthdays, anniversaries, and family gatherings. Create one with personal photos.

19. A book of your favorite recipes.

20. Carbon offsetting. This purchase negates the energy footprint of carbon emissions.

21. Music and books from iTunes or similar vendors of downloadable content.

22. Plant trees in the name of your beneficiary or in a name that would have special meaning for them.

23. Create a photo album and handmade frame.

24. Have a party and E-vite everyone over as your gift.

25. A year's membership to an environmental organization, a health spa, or auto club.

The list is endless if you take a moment to think about your purchases. If you consider where a product was made, what it is made of, who made it, and what went in to the manufacturing of the product, you might reconsider that purchase. Fact: A manufactured item will generate 70 times its weight in waste during manufacturing. Wow! Finally, do your shopping online to save on travel costs whenever possible. And don't forget to have fun.

Shannon Kilkenny is the author of The Complete Guide to Successful Event Planning. She is a presenter at conferences in the hospitality industry. She also leads workshops and seminars and writes articles. To reach her, visit www.successfuleventplanning.com.

Originally published Nov. 1, 2008

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