Green Themes For The Holidays

A fun theme can liven up this year’s holiday party. It can even be a great alternative to stressful gift-giving situations. Sell your family on one of these great theme ideas and start a fun new tradition!


christmas tree

Image by Flickr Creative Commons user plastAnka

1.) Ugly Sweater Party:

Don’t stress about buying a new holiday outfit for this year’s party. Buying fancy dress clothes gets expensive on top of all of your other holiday spending. This is a great, cheap way to rescue and recycle ugly sweaters from thrift stores or from the back of your closet. Look for large-knit sweaters with holiday characters on them.

You could even make a game out of it, or have a contest for ugliest sweater. For instance, you could award 10 points for a sweater with both sequins and pom-poms. Embroidered snowmen get you 5 points. A crushed velvet sweater with a peter pan collar just might be worth an awesome booby prize.

You will know an ugly holiday sweater when you see one! This kind of party may result in some of the best photos ever taken of your family.


2.) Donate Instead of Gift:

Gift-giving can be incredibly stressful. It’s difficult to find time to hunt for and choose a special gift for each member of your family, and it’s simultaneously easy to spend a small fortune. Then there’s shipping and gift-wrapping to worry about.

Instead, decide as a family that everyone will donate a specified dollar amount to their favorite charity or non-profit organization. This is a great way to keep in mind the less fortunate during the holidays. By freeing yourself of gift-giving stress, you’ll have more energy to actually spend time with the people you love this season.


3.) White Elephant:

Arrange for everyone to participate in a white elephant party rather than buying gifts. Ask every party attendant to choose and bring one small, unique or humorous item from his or her home or from a thrift shop (it might be a good idea to have a specified monetary limit on items, like $10.) Have them wrap the item and bring it to the party.

At the party, determine how many people have brought white elephant gifts (you usually need a minimum of 6 people to play) Make numbered scraps of paper up to the total number of people participating, and put the numbers in some kind of coffee can or bowl. Have participants blindly reach into the bowl and pull out a scrap of paper with a number on it.

The person who has chosen number 1 will be the first to select a wrapped gift and unwrap it. It’s basically a game of playful thieving, but the rules are a bit difficult to explain concisely, so I’ll let Wikipedia do the explaining:


“The first person opens a wrapped gift and the turn ends. The second person [who chose the number 2 out of the bowl] gets the choice of “stealing” any unwrapped item or choosing a wrapped one from the gift pile. If the second person steals the gift from the first person, then the first person can choose a replacement gift from the pile of wrapped presents. No immediate steal-backs are allowed. Stealing back a gift that was once in your possession must wait at least one-turn removed before stealing it back. On the third person’s turn they can then steal an unwrapped item or choose a wrapped one. If an item is stolen from you, you can steal a gift from someone else, or open an unwrapped one. A gift cannot be stolen more than once in a turn. Turns continue until everyone has a gift. At the end of the last turn, the first person, who had no choice of stealing at the beginning, can choose to “exchange” their current gift with any player.”


A large can of beans circulated within my family for years thanks to our annual white elephant exchange.


4.) Handmade Gift-Giving:

Has holiday shopping become a bit impersonal in your circle? Agree as a family to only give gifts that you’ve made yourself. Handmade gifts are much more thoughtful, and can be really fun to make. With online resources that offer tutorials and gift ideas, the possibilities are endless, and you can really take pride in the gifts that you give.

At first, it may seem as though making gifts would be less costly than buying, but this is not always the case. The expense of all of the different parts, pieces and tools can add up quickly, and usually there’s spare material left over that you may not know what to do with. It may be a good idea to get together with like-minded friends and agree on a couple of crafts that you can go in on together. That way, it can be a fun friend activity too! This option is even better if you can find a way to incorporate recycled materials into your crafts. One of the best gifts I’ve ever received was my handmade spice rack made from old recycled pallet wood.


The holidays offer many wonderful time-honored traditions, but if you feel as though the consumerism surrounding the season has gotten out of hand, or if you’re just ready to mix things up a bit, think about implementing one of these ideas. Have fun! Get creative! And have the best holiday ever!

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