Want to reduce waste and still give big this holiday season? Delight your kids without buying anything new with these five green giving ideas. Plus, most of these gifts are much easier on the budget than traditional shopping. And another bonus: supply chain issues won’t faze you! 

Shop Second-Hand 

Portland has so many options for buying high quality resale gifts. My son bought his sister a totally bedazzled, sequin-covered pair of heels (her first), at Hoot-n-Annie, like something straight out of The Wizard of Oz. She has worn them every day since. Check out our list of consignment boutiques here (many of them also sell toys). Also visit Bricks-n-Minifigs for LEGO sets, Next Adventure for athletic gear, or Rogue Toys for the coolest collectible toys from the ’80s, ’90s and today. And don’t forget about Goodwill and William Temple House. See? So many options!

Awesome find at Hoot-n-Annie Resale.

Give Experiences

Museum memberships are the presents that keep giving all year long! Consider a membership to OMSI, the Oregon Zoo, the Portland Art Museum and more. Worried your kid will be sad to open a piece of paper on the holiday? Wrap up a treat that represents the membership, such as an elephant- shaped cookie for a membership to the zoo. You’ve seen those “Surprise! We’re going to Disney!” videos — kids really do love an experience gift!

If your child enjoys going to live performances, consider tickets to a local production or a season subscription to their favorite theater. Our Performing Arts Guide has a comprehensive list of venues in Portland, and my daughter highly recommends Oregon Children’s Theatre.
Lessons are another great way to give without buying shiny new plastic. Ever since my daughter heard about horseback riding lessons at Phoenix Farm, she has been begging to sign up. Whether your child is interested in learning an instrument, a sport or even improv, Portland has lots of options.

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Buy Nothing 

I’m almost evangelical about Buy Nothing Groups, hyper-local gifting economies where everything is freely given from neighbor to neighbor. My group does a stocking stuffer round robin every year. We pass a bag of tiny giftables from person to person, taking what our kids will love and adding what they’ve outgrown before passing to the next neighbor. We also post lots of “asks” around the holidays, trying to avoid buying new packages of Pokemon cards, for example, if a neighbor has a giant stack collecting dust. If your kid wants something really specific, you may have better luck asking for it in your Buy Nothing group, rather than searching multiple resale spots for it.

Make it Yourself 

Nothing is more meaningful than a handmade gift on the holidays! Mrs. Weasely’s sweaters notwithstanding, kids really do love homemade gifts. I crocheted a Pikachu for my son one year, and it definitely held a place of honor in the stuffy menagerie for years afterward. Pick up your supplies at Scrap for an even greener gift!

Shop Yard Sales

It’s technically off-season for yard sales, but — as a person who shops yard sales every week — I can tell you for sure that sales go all year long, and you’re bound to find something in your area. Check out our tips for how to find and shop yard sales here. For fall and winter, look for estate sales or community events; these are more likely to be indoors.

Best of luck on your hunt for the perfect, planet-friendly present! 

Meg Asby
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