Giving green: Outdoor gifts from the heart

Tin can lantens (Photo by Grow Creative)

Tin can lantens (Photo by Grow Creative)

December 11, 2013 | by Kyla Winchester

If you read my previous post, you’ll already know about my love for giving environmentally-friendly gifts. Anything I give someone that doesn’t create more waste or increase my footprint makes me a happy giver. And while today’s post is also about upcycled and/or sustainable gifts, what each of these items have in common is the environment.

All these gifts are for helping you enjoy nature — in your garden, backyard or patio — or they bring nature inside for you to enjoy. The bonus is that they are also easy on the earth, and you can feel proud that you've helped make a difference this holiday season. 

Terrariums (Photo by Kyla Winchester)

Terrariums (Photo by Kyla Winchester)

Build a terrarium in less than an hour

I have a couple of these in my home, and a friend recently complimented me on them. The hardest part for me was finding decorative stones, but for a truly sustainable option you can go searching for rocks at your local ravine or beach. While these are a “green” gift, they are elegant and great for a hard-to-shop-for recipient.

Patio tin can lantern

Another simple but effective idea, punched tin cans become  lovely patio candle holders. Paint them in the recently trendy “ombre” effect, one colour fading to another, for extra oomph. And if you really love the recipients, you can take it a step further: tell your loved ones you don’t want to burn down their backyard by including a couple cheap LED bike lights, so they don’t have to mess around with candles.

A bath for the birds 

A true upcycle, and gift-giving at its most basic, this stacked stone and lid bird bath appeals to the true nature nut. Perhaps get a lovely but faded tray from the thrift store to use in place of the lid for a touch of charm that is slightly less rustic.

Feed the birds all year round

This upcycled birdfeeder looks deceptively simple to make, which leads me to think the hardest part is getting the wood to stay at a 90-degree angle. After that it appears to be smooth sailing with heavy-gauge wire. And yet I love the simple design. Does anyone else want to sit nearby with a zoom lens and wait for birds to show up?

A succulent planter

Bring some green into your home with a succulent planter. If your gift recipient is like me, it can be hard to keep actual leafy plants alive, what with my tendancy to not water them. Fortunately, succulents are a little more tolerant of neglect, so this gift will hopefully still be green well into 2014. And when they’re this pretty, who’d neglect them?

Stone garden markers (Photo by Carey Powell)

Stone garden markers (Photo by Carey Powell)

Turn tree branches into candle holders

Even looking at these beautiful candle holders calms me down. I suspect power tools may be required to create these; however,  a friendly neighbour or kind relative might be able to help if you, like me, live in a condo and wouldn’t know what to do with a table saw even if one appeared in my teeny tiny living room. The rest could be taken care of with sandpaper and readily available candles, for a gift with a touch of simple elegance.

To ensure your gift is truly green, use only branches that have already fallen to the ground.

Need more ideas?

Find out how to make stone garden markers here

Learn how to force bulbs in this easy how-to.

Kyla Winchester (Photo by Theresa Winchester)

About the Author

Kyla Winchester is the former development officer for NCC's Ontario Region.

Read more about Kyla Winchester.

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