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Feel-Good Gift Guide

 Pair of Pears diy holiday gift wrap
A Pair of Pears' guide to DIY gift wrapping. 

Whether you’ve been too busy, broke, or lazy to finish (or start) your holiday shopping, it’s not too late to find or make thoughtful gifts. And with an emphasis on local, DIY, and green gifting, you can avoid the mall entirely.

Go local. Sweet & Spicy Nuts photo by SassyRadish
Between the internet, your telephone, and a credit card, you can help support your loved ones’ favorite local spots. Chip in for a visit to that zero-waste locavore restaurant your sister loves. Treat your mom to an hour with her local masseuse. Get your stepdad a round of golf (not the greenest, maybe, but better than another tie). Asking yourself what your loved ones like to do is usually easier than trying to figure out what they want. Alternatively, consider sharing some favorite local finds from your area. Whether you choose practical items (honey, soap) or extravagances (chocolate, wine), you’ll be sharing a piece of your everyday life.

Odessa May Society's DIY garden gift basketGet creative.
Everyone has a creative streak. Whether your strengths are in the kitchen, the garden, or the art studio, there’s a gift waiting for you to make it. Here are a few ideas for getting started. Food Republic has slightly-sinful holiday treats, from vanilla bourbon to spicy candied bacon fudge (yes, you read that right). Odessa May Society’s DIY tulip-and-daffodil-bulb gift basket will bring the reassurance of spring to friends who get the winter blues. For music and poetry lovers, ABeautiful Mess shows how to make wall art out of verse. And if you have paint chip samples secreted away somewhere, How About Orange reveals how to turn them into magnets and geometric patterned wall art. Love drawing or graphic design? Handmade soaps, lotions, teas, salves, and herbal perfumes and colognes offer a blank slate for designing labels and packaging that shows off your style.

Supply a hungry mind with a year’s worth of food-for-thought and support the independent press. Here are some of our favorite indie rags.
For the environmentalist: Orion
The informed optimist: Yes!Orion magazine
The friend who hates consumer culture: Adbusters
The new parents: Brain, Child
The intellectual cyclist: Boneshaker: A Bicycling Almanac
The practical cyclist: Bicycle Times 
The farmer (or wanna-be): Small Farmer’s Journal
The hardcore sustainable do-it-yourselfer: Mother Earth News
The left-leaning news junkie: The NationThe open-minded conservative: American ConservativeThe feminist: BitchThe empowered girl: New Moon(Or share Utne Reader with a friend!)

It might seem strange to donate instead of giving a gift, but if you’re buying for the family activist this will likely supply the desired warm, fuzzy feeling. Talk to them beforehand about causes they support.

Cloth Gift Wrap from the Merriment BlogWrap It Right
Your efforts to buy and use less this holiday don’t have to stop at the gift. In case you thought newspaper and brown paper shopping bags couldn’t look classy, check out Make’s guide to upcycled gift wrapping. A Pair of Pears and Redesign Revolution offer more ideas for making DIY and reusable wrapping look festive.

Still freaking out?
For practical advice on paring down and handling holiday stress, see the Mayo Clinic’s tips for coping with the holidays.

Images: A Pair of Pears' guide to DIY gift wrapping; Sweet & spicy nuts via SassyRadish, licensed under Creative Commons; Gift for the Gardener by Odessa May Society; November/December 2012 cover of Orion; Cloth gift wrap from The Merriment Blog (via Redesign Revolution).