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Helping Holidays: 4 Green Gifts That Give Back

 

The holidays are all about celebrating acts of giving, making it the perfect opportunity to make your gift giving smarter this season. There are so many amazing businesses out there that give back when you purchase one of their products. These companies are tied to doing good somewhere in the world every time a purchase is made. Read on for my 4 favorite gifts that give back – and if you hurry you can still get these goodies by Christmas.

1. Warby Parker Glasses
Eben and I both wear glasses and love the stylish, affordable frames from Warby Parker. For every pair of glasses that you buy, a pair is donated to a person in need. If you don’t wear glasses, that is alright – Warby Parker also offers fantastic sunglasses.

+ Warby Parker  

2. Feed Bags
I have been familiar with FEED Bags for a very long time – I remember first seeing them in Whole Foods back when we lived in Georgia! FEED Bags come in a huge selection of styles and sizes and with each purchase a portion of the proceeds go towards feeding the children of the world.

+ FEED Projects

3. TOMS Shoes
Most likely you are already familiar with TOMS shoes – for every pair you purchase a pair is donated to a child in need. With a great selection of shoes for everyone on your list, TOMS is the perfect holiday gift!

+ TOMS

4. Bogo Brush
Every year I stick a toothbrush in the holiday stocking – this year I will be stuffing a brush from Bogo Brush! Bogo Brush is another company that donates a product to a child in need – in this case, an eco-friendly toothbrush made from waste – because a healthy smile is a happy smile.

+ BOGO BRUSH

Do you have a favorite gift to give that gives back too?

How to Make a Healthier Gingerbread House for the Holidays

Every year as an advent activity, Eben and I made a gingerbread house. While those store-bought gingerbread kits seem very simple, making your own gingerbread house can be too! You can use ingredients that you already have on-hand, use your creativity, and there is no packaging waste either.

This year, we decided to make a healthier version of the gingerbread house using ingredients that we already had in our kitchen cupboards. And while there are still a handful of chocolate candies used in the decorating, most of the ingredients are better for him. The best part, it took less than an hour to make and we laughed and chatted while we made it, and our house smelled fantastic when we were done! Read on to learn how to make a healthier gingerbread house with your children for the holidays and add it to your weekend activity list.

Step 1: Gather Your Ingredients

  • graham crackers 
  • carob chips
  • shredded coconut
  • miniature chocolate pieces
  • yogurt covered almonds
  • square cereal pieces
  • ice cream cones
  • cinnamon sticks
  • peanut butter
  • baker’s twine

Step 2: Choose your Design

Eben and I decided on a simple cottage design inspired by the ingredients that we had on hand in our kitchen. We wanted a sweet look and choose our colors to match the orange yogurt covered almonds that we had.

Step 3: Construct the House

You will need 4 graham crackers squares and 4 graham cracker triangles. Use a serrated knife to cut the graham crackers into a triangular shape.

We melted carob chips and used them to “glue” the house together. We then placed it in the freezer for a few minutes to speed up the hardening process.

Step 4: Add the Roof

Choose your favorite square cereal to construct the roof. We used peanut butter to secure the “shingles” on the roof starting from the bottom and then layering each level until we reached the roofline. We added the shingles to all four sides of the roof.

Step 5: Add Doors and Windows

We used more cereal and miniature chocolate pieces to make the front door and windows – attaching those to the house with peanut butter as well.

Step 6: Add a Little Color

We used orange yogurt covered almonds to the peak of the house!

Step 7: Make the Trees

We used sugar ice cream cones turned upside down and adorned with miniature chocolate pieces (also attached with peanut butter) for our miniature forest of trees.

Step 8: Make a Wood Pile

We tied a small stack of cinnamon sticks together with baker’s twine to make a stack of firewood to place next to the house.

Step 9: Add the Snow

We sprinkled shredded coconut all around the gingerbread house and then added the trees and woodpile to the finished display!

Step 10: Eat and Enjoy!

After all of our work, Eben didn’t want to eat the house immediately – he said we should at least wait a day and enjoy looking at it before we devour it.

Do you make gingerbread houses with your children? Have you ever made a healthier version? How did it turn out?

How to Upcycle Wine Corks into Place Card Holders for Your Thanksgiving Table


When Eben was little, I would encourage him to spend some time creating something fun for the Thanksgiving table. Over the years, he has made apple printed napkins, pine cone turkey centerpieces, and floral arrangements. Several years ago we really wanted to utilize the corks we have saved – so we started brainstorming fun crafts. We decided to use the corks along with a handful of other supplies from the recycling bin and craft closet to make turkey inspired place cards.

This project is super simple and will keep your child busy Thanksgiving morning while you are cooking, baking, cleaning, and getting ready for the big day. At the end of the project, your child will have these fun colorful place cards to offer as part of the Thanksgiving table decor. Then, as your guests leave after the feast, they can take their turkeys home with them as a memento of a cherished day together.

5 Eco-Friendly Ways to Plan for Thanksgiving Dinner

Hello, Friends! I am pretty excited, Thanksgiving is right around the corner. Thanksgiving is going to look a lot different this year. Most gatherings will be super small or social distanced.

Either way, it will still be a ton of fun and work! To get you started, there are many eco-friendly ways to green your Thanksgiving dinner – all of which are easier to implement if you plan ahead. Many of these ideas will save you money and time while cutting down on the amount of waste that can accumulate from a big family dinner. Read on to learn my 5 favorite eco-friendly ways to plan your Thanksgiving dinner and start planning today!

1. Decorating 101
You don’t have to spend any money when decorating for Thanksgiving, instead use items that you already have or consider bringing natural items indoors. We always have a handful of pumpkins leftover from Halloween that we use as Thanksgiving decorations. And Eben and I like to take a nature walk to collect natural elements (pine-cones, acorns, branches, and leaves) to display as our Thanksgiving table centerpiece.

2. How Much is Enough?
It is really easy to go overboard when planning the Thanksgiving menu. Consider the dishes that you will be serving and ask yourself if you are making more than is necessary. Choose a few dishes that you are sure your guests will love and skip the rest. Also, consider which parts of Thanksgiving dinner you want to or can afford to purchase organic and whenever possible, avoid pre-packaged items.

3. Consider the Table
Do you have enough dinnerware for everyone at your dinner party? If not, consider borrowing place settings from close friends or family members instead of purchasing new. If you aren’t a china and tablecloth kind of family and choose to go with disposable place settings, choose a great compostable version that is made from 100% recycled materials.

4. Think Seasonal
When choosing fruits and vegetables for your Thanksgiving menu, think seasonal. You want to avoid purchasing produce that is imported from far away. You may consider joining a local CSA for the holiday season – not only will you have delicious, local foods to serve this Thanksgiving, but you will be supporting a local farm too.

5. Plan for Leftovers
What do you plan to do with the Thanksgiving dinner leftovers? If you are planning on sending goodies home with your guests, have glass reusable storage containers ready to go. If you made more than your family can consume, you could donate some of the leftovers to a local food bank, freeze them for later or have a menu plan for the days after Thanksgiving so all of the leftovers will be used.

How do you green your Thanksgiving dinner? I would love to hear – please share your thoughts in the comments!

How to Make Simple Upcycled Halloween Lanterns

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One of my favorite areas to decorate for Halloween is our front porch. It’s the perfect spot to share your Halloween decorations with visitors and neighbors! These painted glass lanterns are one of my favorite projects to pull out of storage every year. They are just so delightful!

What you will need:

What to do:

1. Spray the glass containers inside and outside.
2. Once dry, paint on the design or face that you would like.
3. Place a rechargeable or solar powered tea light inside.
4. Watch the delight on the faces of your neighbors as they walk by.

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What do you think of my Halloween lanterns?