This goes without saying, but, dang, the holidays are stressful. You want to be a responsible consumer but you still want to participate in holiday fun, so what do you do?? Companies do a really good job of making us think that we absolutely HAVE to buy gifts for everyone we know around the holidays. In doing research for our curbing consumerism theme, I’ve read about quite a few different ways environmentally minded people approach the holidays. I talked about a few of those options in our previous blog post, but this time I wanted to look for ideas a little closer to home, so reached out to the Imago staff and board. So here they are (drumroll please) some Imago ideas for reducing consumerism this holiday: 

    • Board member Jill Korach and her family like to give DIY Gratitude Jars (decorate a jar and include some little pieces of paper in an envelope to get their jar started). They also gift tickets to things like the Omnimax at the Cincinnati Museum Center or memberships to cool places like Krohn Conservatory and local museums. Another experience based gift Jill likes to give are adventures in the form of homemade gift certificates to go to local parks. 

      Image source: Makes and Takes

    • T-Rex’s human (and Executive Director) Chris Clements and his fam like to make homemade Chai Tea Mix (just add water!) and Bottle Cap Magnets (pro-tip: put a quarter on top of your bottle cap before using your bottle opener so you don’t bend the cap).
      • Outdoor Education Intern Hannah Ward is hosting a clothing swap for her friends this holiday. Everyone participating has to bring at least 3 items of clothing/accessories they have in their closets and don’t wear, and then they are able to swap it out for other clothes. Hannah thinks people will probably get some things for themselves and some to give as gifts. Anything left at the end she’ll be donating to a local women’s shelter. Hannah also runs a small business and says she’s definitely seen an uptick in sales during the holidays. If you want to buy a gift, making an effort to buy local is a good route to take.
      • Imago co-founder Jim Schenk got his grandkids tickets to see the Cincinnati Symphony perform music from Harry Potter. He figures they’ll remember a fun night getting dressed up and going to a cool show more fondly than if he just got them another toy.
      • Former Outdoor Ed Intern Olivia Minnie makes her family and friends personalized watercolors (so cool!!!). She also shared this video about how to make chunky knit towels and blankets. Olivia said that in recent years, her family has chosen to take a trip during the holidays instead of buying each other gifts.

        Image source: Instructables

      • Community Educator Mo Curran and her family decided they all are just going to get each other one small thing the other person needs and will use. For example, Mo asked for a colander and her mom asked for a dish brush. Mo has also been experimenting with making bath bombs and face masks so she can give friends a night of self-care.

      • Education Coordinator Sara Briggs said that when she was little, her mom used to have her make gifts for her relatives such as Twig Star Ornaments. Another great idea from Sara is to give sweets and treats like Hot Chocolate Spoons or Chocolate Covered Pretzels. 
      • Outdoor Education Intern Rebecca Gormley and her family could’t think of things they needed that badly, so this year are each picking a charity and they will all make a donation to each of the selected charities. In previous years, they’ve done a secret santa gift exchange where everyone had a budget of $20 and bought the person whose name they drew something that they really needed/would use. Rebecca also said her family has spent time volunteering over the holidays (check out Cincinnati Cares for a list of upcoming local events in need of volunteers).
      • In the same spirit, our last outdoor education theme for the winter was about upcycling and all our students made upcycled bookmarks they could give as gifts to friends and family. 
      • Lots of us Imagoans and our families participate in gift exchanges where everyone’s name goes in a hat and everyone draws one person to get a gift for. Instead of buying gifts for every member of your family, you can pick out a great gift for just one person. 
      • Don’t forget the Homemade Gift Wrap
        • Our curated Imago Gift Wrap recommendations:
          • Hannah likes using brown paper grocery bags and drawing things on the wrapping to personalize her gifts even more. She even saved bows from her wedding so she can use them to add some pizzazz.
          • Mo likes using brown paper bags as well and thinks fabric can be a great wrapping option too.

            Image Source: Phantom Forest Blog

Trying to curb our consumerism around the holidays can be tough, but I’ve found that it has led me to think outside the box a bit. Hopefully some of the Imagoans ideas have gotten your gears turning. We’d love to hear about your non-traditional/homemade holiday gift go-tos! Comment down below or email us at For more tips and articles on curbing consumerism, check out out the curbing consumerism hub. Keep your eyes peeled, we have a lot more #CurbingConsumerism content in store for the new year.