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Green Holiday Ideas

We offer ideas for celebrating the holiday season with the Christian call to environmental stewardship in mind.

This is the time of year when we get to celebrate holidays with family and friends and in our churches. Christmas a wonderful opportunity for “teaching moments” related to our United Methodist Women values, faith and vision for a more just, peaceful and sustainable world.

How can we model the attitudes and behaviors that will bring about the Beloved Community? How can we inspire others to make different choices? How can we help others know the joys of a more spirit-filled and spirit-led life?


  • Many churches and organizations hold food drives during the holiday season. Encourage donations of organic, natural, low-salt, low-fat, healthy foods in reusable bags that recipient families can reuse. Have a fair-trade food drive.
  • Ensure that meals at home and church are low carbon. Feature fruit, vegetables, dairy and meat from local sources. Purchase organic products. Offer more vegetarian options.


  • Give your time, talents or friendship as a Christmas gift. Make a creative coupon or gift card to illustrate how you’ll do this. For example, give a home energy audit, help caulk leaks and help weatherize someone’s home, or research energy-efficient appliance models and prices for a friend or family member in the market. 
  • Give LED (light-emitting diode) or compact florescent light bulbs as gifts.
  • Give a composter/worm bin as a gift. Offer to help set it up and provide training/orientation as to how to use it.
  • Give a Gift to Mission in someone’s name.
  • Give someone a tree or sponsor a tree planting in someone’s name.
  • Set up an alternative gift fair at your church. Contact Green America (HYPERLINK www.greenamerica.org) or the Center for a New American Dream (HYPERLINK www.newdream.org) if you want advice and help. This can be an excellent way to raise money for mission and a great introduction in generosity for children.
  • Buy reams of chlorine-free paper and give to friends with home computers, or make a chlorine-free gift bag of several products (dish soap, laundry detergent, paper towels, toilet paper, etc.). Create a card to give with the gift that shares the benefits of selecting chlorine-free products. Visit the Chlorine Free Products Association (HYPERLINK www.chlorinefreeproducts.org/) for more information. For example, organochlorides have been linked to breast cancer—put a pink ribbon on the package and explain the connection! 

Alternative celebrations

  • Invite friends or family or church group to take a nature walk/hike or otherwise enjoy the beauty of winter outdoors as an alternative to going to the mall, watching a lot television or focusing on a mountain of unneeded gifts.
  • With children, make bird-feeder ornaments to hang outside: cover old bagels or pinecones with peanut butter and seeds.
  • Check out the Amnesty International website at www.amensty.org and select a political prisoner who needs support. Invite your unit, family or group of friends to join you for a letter writing time together. Celebrate your freedom by advocating for someone else’s.
  • Make music together! Sing, and invite people to bring instruments. Making live music together can be a joyous, bonding activity. Host a caroling party!
  • Make paper windmills/wind turbines as decorations for your tree.
  • Have your church host a polar bear plunge to raise funds for climate change advocacy work or making an energy conservation repair/improvement in your church. 

Christmas cards and gift tags

Using chlorine-free card stock, have your circle/unit make Christmas cards and gift tags. Indicate that they are made with chlorine-free paper and include a statement such as: “Because we care, United Methodist Women members choose chlorine-free products!” 

Wrapping paper

If you can’t find chlorine-free wrapping paper, be creative and use other means of wrapping: reuse wrapping paper that is in good shape or wrap gifts in scarves, maps, old pictures and posters, and decorated grocery bags.

Last Updated: 12/09/2010

© 2014 United Methodist Women