Create memories, not garbage.

Give experiences – most memories of Christmas past are about activities and time spent with others.

  • Take advantage of our local mountains. Ski, snowboard, take lessons, ice skate, hike, or go for the view and a hot chocolate.
  • Know someone who wants to improve their health? Choose a pass to a community centre or fitness place… near home or work.
  • Many places in the Lower Mainland teach cooking. Italian, Thai, Indian... Sign up yourself too and go together. Google ‘cooking classes in <your city>’.
  • A gift for busy parents or new homeowners? Dinner out is priceless. Many restaurants offer gift certificates or they’ll let you prepay the meal. Even better, offer up some babysitting too.
  • Massage, pedicure, or a facial; your present will be a favourite. Ask friends for recommendations.
  • Everyone likes a rainy night at the movies. Get passes at any neighbourhood theatre.
  • Choose passes to local museums and attractions.
  • Even in a busy city, people can feel lonely. The gift of your time is unbeatable. Visit for a coffee, and bring the cookies. Offer to help with a task; paint a deck, fix a step, and mow a lawn.      

Gifts that last – we hold on to our favourites. Can you remember a toy you kept for a long time?

  • Kites, bikes, crayons, scrabble and blocks are fun and can be passed along.
  • Go smaller. But better. Find a fabulous kitchen gadget that is simple, and will last forever. Skip those with batteries and breakable parts.
  • Can a gift be useful, but still fun? Of course. Check out outdoors shops and hardware catalogues. Kids love to ‘help’ too!
  • Soccer balls, night lights for bikes and tennis rackets last. Offer to play together.
  • Find durable, handmade gifts at craft fairs.
  • How do you know something will really last? When it already has. Pass on a family heirloom, or something you cherish.
  • New homeowner on your list? Plants, trees, floor refinishing or evening a cleaning supply kit might be a hit.

Places to shop – your shopping journey can be a gift to yourself

  • Bring your mug and take five with a hot drink, discover a new neighbourhood with a friend.

Decorating – the landfill doesn’t need Christmas decorations or wrapping paper.

  • When choosing new decorations, shop for ones that can be used forever – start small and add year by year.
  • Make decorations with friends and family –search online for Green Christmas Decorations - you’ll find simple but great ideas.
  • Christmas Crackers don’t seem to last. Think of new things to stuff - New mittens filled with chocolate? Here’s a hint…everyone needs socks!
  • Find decorations in your back yard. Make a wreath or centre piece from greenery. Add a couple of bells, bows or pine cones. Easy, and smells good too.
  • Start a new gift wrapping tradition - make gift bags that can be used every year, or find creative ways to make your gift even more unique by wrapping it in a fabric that is part of the gift like tea towels, warm socks, sheets, or a pillowcase. If you do use gift-wrap, reuse old wrapping paper from last year or at least use wrap made from recycled paper.
  • Know what packaging and printed paper can go into your recycling bins! Check if you’re being naughty or nice, or take the quiz. You can also use Metro Vancouver Recycles to find the most convenient locations to donate or recycle just about anything that doesn’t go in your blue box.

Food, parties and leftovers - region-wide, about 30% of what we send to the landfill every day is food. Wow!

  • Love food, hate waste. Find tips on how to reduce food waste in the first place (and save up to $700 a year) and some great recipe ideas for your leftovers.
  • Suggest that your dinner guests bring their own reusable containers to take some favourite leftovers home
  • Grocery shopping tips:
    • Buy local meat, produce, and condiments. Food less-travelled is easier on the environment, and clearly fresher.
    • Bring your own shopping bags when you go to the store or market.
    • Don’t shop on an empty stomach and you likely won’t over buy as much in the first place.
  •  And remember, recycle your food scraps.

The Flame Holiday Edition - gift ideas