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(MCT)—You know what I don’t want this year? More stuff. I don’t want to give stuff that won’t be used, receive stuff that won’t be used, or be surrounded by stuff that won’t be used. Remember the George Carlin bit about “stuff”? In one of his classic stand up routines he said, “A house is just a place to keep your stuff while you go out and get more stuff.” This year I’m going to do my part and give gifts that don’t come with all that extra stuff!

When it comes to my family, I like to give the gift of an experience. This year, we’ll be on a family vacation during the holidays while we also celebrate my son’s graduation from college. It’s a trip I’ve been planning for more than a year and it’s one that is filled with different outings and adventures. No gift wrap needed! Obviously, this is not something we can do every year but there are other experiences that would make a memorable holiday gift for younger kids. It can be horseback riding lessons, tickets to a play, or day at your local museum. I even know of a mother who gave her young daughter the ultimate (and free!) gift. It was the daughter’s first email address!

There are plenty of waste-free options for teenagers. Gift certificates for a manicure, online music stores, or a night at the movies will always be welcome and come without all that gift-wrap. A personalized booklet with coupons for getting out of chores, eating out, or staying up late, are also creative and popular gifts for young adults.

For the bigger kids on the list—such as our spouses—there are plenty of thoughtful, waste-free ideas for them too. A gift of a night out on the town, a day of pampering at a local spa, a house cleaning gift certificate, or tickets to a sporting event or concert are smart ideas that come without the clutter.

If you do opt for a more traditional gift—do it with a twist. For instance, if you’re giving the gift of jewelry, consider an estate piece or a vintage item. You can also find all sorts of unique pieces exquisitely crafted from recycled materials. You can find necklaces, earrings, and bracelets made from all sorts of reused materials—everything from recycled glass to recycled silver.

Not every gift needs to be big to make a big impact. Do your part this year and give greener gifts. These are the gifts memories are made from and they won’t add to the amount of stuff you already have around your home. Consider it a gift to you and the planet.

Terri Bennett is a veteran TV meteorologist, author, and founder of DoYourPart, everyday green living ideas that are better for you and the planet.

© 2011, Terri Bennett Enterprises, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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