The 2008 Holiday Gift Guide

If ever there was a year for sustainable, economical gifts with an emphasis on the home-made (and therefore extra-personalized) — 1932, we mean 2008, is it.

By Plenty staff

Lucky for you, Plenty’s staff has compiled ideas for every important person in your life, from the woman who birthed you to the boss you’d really rather not have to buy a present for, thankyouverymuch. The emphasis this year is on things you can make yourself, things that are inexpensive (with one outlandish—but totally worth it—exception), and, of course, things that are low-impact or actually help the earth and its inhabitants. So start wishing for a green Christmas. (For the print magazine’s own 100 percent unique gift guide, you can find the December issue on newsstands now.)

For Your Brother, Husband, or Boyfriend:
• Homemade infused vodka
Here’s an easy personalization upgrade to an inexpensive gift. Infused vodka is like making tea but with booze; it flavors the flavorless drink with anything he likes. We talked to Elliot Feldman, who makes the house-infused brews at Nova Bar and Restaurant, across the street from San Francisco’s South Park, to get his tastiest and most popular recipes.  

• A good supply of organic cotton handkerchiefs.

These save a lot of trees, and are especially great for parents of small children, who are constantly wiping noses.

For Your Sister, Girlfriend, or Wife:
• Homemade chocolate truffles
Plenty’s food editor, Jessica Mischner, has adapted this recipe from at least three different sources and perfected it over the years. It’s really easy; the most difficult part will be coming up with an excuse to get her out of the apartment for four hours while you’re making it (don’t worry — most of that is waiting for it to cool, and you can totally do the rest while watching football).

• A homemade cookbook 
Go to What's Cooking Grandma, a site that archives users' grandmothers' recipes for future generations (think Epicurious for the crafty set) and make a cookbook composed of recipes for her (not your) favorite foods. This video will show you how to bind your own book using only six things, all of which you can find at a drugstore (remember to buy recycled paper).  

• Handmade or independently-designed fashion and showcase thousands of small designers and craftspeople selling at lower prices than in many stores (because there’s virtually no overhead). Keep in mind that women want to try on things like shoes, pants, and swimsuits so stay in the sweaters-and-accessories zone to be safe. 

For Your Mom:
• Earrings made from old chandeliers
With the right tools and some basic knowledge, you can turn chandelier crystals into beautiful bling. Craftbits is full of instructions and patterns for turning broken or found objects into jewelry, as is, of course, Martha Stewart. If you’re a total clutz or you’re totally late, you can also buy these recycled pretties readymade from professional designers such Eda and Betty, Jade Gedon, or Amy Pfaffman.

For Your Dad:
• One thing he will probably not spend money on himself is some really nice organic cotton towels from Ralph Lauren, and right now they’re on sale.

• Make comfy throw pillows out of one of his favorite old sweaters or t-shirts:
Cut two rectangular or square pieces from the garment
Turn inside out, so patterned sides faced inward
Stitch three sides shut using a thread color that blends with the fabric. Sew most of the fourth side, leaving 3-4 inches open
Flip inside out
Fill with stuffing or repurposed fabric (like t-shirts or towels cut into strips, or pantyhose)
Sew remaining section using a whip stitch. Leave as is or sew on buttons, patches, or other decals for added flair.

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The greenest of the green: find *locally* made green gifts

New online directory launches, emphasizes local, green goods: sets the Green Gold Standard!

In a world flush with “green” products, this new online marketplace will define the green gold standard – companies that make products sustainably, responsibly and locally – which all add up to ecobly.

Just in time for holiday shoppers, who are being more careful with their money than ever this year, the site will have tons of ideas for people who want to shop close to home for green toys, jewelry, home décor, garden products and accessories!

The local food movement has revolutionized the idea of ‘buy local.’ We all know that communities are healthier when we invest in our farmers, now it’s time to look at all the other products in our home – can we support our furniture makers? Our green jewelry suppliers?

Ecobly companies are masters of ingenuity and wizards of waste recycling. They are on the cutting edge of green manufacturing – there’s something ecobly made for almost every need!

It's great that you are providing ideas for green and do it yourself gifts, but on the 'For Your Sister, Girlfriend, or Wife:' options, I am surprised that you would insinuate that it is the woman who is the cook, and/or that one should give women kitchen related gifts. I would say your ideals are a little out dated, as about as many men as women cook these days, and as you look toward change in the modern world, I would hope that you would start to look toward change in more than just green products and politics. Try looking toward political changes at home too.


The website address for the "greenest of the green" site where you can find locally made green gifts is

Try a Hundred-Mile holiday - buy your gifts from local producers.

Enjoy Shopping!

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