We all know the rituals that mark this time of year—the frenzied shopping, spending money, and checking our holiday gift list.

Although it’s wonderful and vital to give and receive, we can probably all agree that at times giving gifts feels like tyranny. What to get? How much will it cost? Can I afford this? Will they even like it or appreciate it? In this time of climate change and growing environmental damage, unfettered, throwaway consumerism isn’t a great idea, either.

So, allow us to suggest a few alternatives that expand our connections with one another and our planet: Give the gift of nature through small, simple gifts and experiences. Here are some ideas:

The Meaningful Gift of Nature • Nature Speaks to Us
  • A packet of flower or vegetable seeds, along with soil and a pot. Children especially love watching seeds grow, and it may launch them on a lifetime of loving plants, appreciating where their food comes from, and even growing their own vegetables.
  • An easy-to-grow, inexpensive houseplant with pretty foliage and long-lasting blooms, such as a leafy philodendron, an African violet, or a phalaenopsis orchid. Or even a fragrant herb, like a basil or rosemary plant. Research has shown that having plants around the home can lower blood pressure and stress hormone levels, and add to a sense of well-being. Plus, they provide oxygen. What’s not to love?
The Meaningful Gift of Nature • Nature Speaks to Us
  • A gift certificate for a monthly “nature date” with your child, spouse, or friend. This gift of shared experiences in nature is one of the greatest expressions of love one can give. Your child, for instance, won’t remember the material presents you got them so as much as the time you spent with them. It could be a walk in the woods, an excursion to the beach, a trip to a zoo or botanical garden, or even an outing to see stars in the night sky. Get creative—the idea is to commit regular time to exploring the natural world together, and these “dates” may result in some of the most treasured memories.
The Meaningful Gift of Nature • Nature Speaks to Us
  • A reservation to a science or nature camp like Islandwood.org where youths can learn about the natural world, volunteer, and become future stewards of their environment.
  • A gift subscription to a nature magazine like National Geographic or Ranger Rick.
  • A membership to an environmental organization that appeals to your loved one’s interests. It might be the Sierra Club, a local mycological group (mushroom identification and foraging), or the Audubon Society (birdwatching).
Meet Me at the Salish Sea Book Front Cover

We wish you the very best of nature this season!