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Creative, Practical and Useful Gift Ideas

Submitted by Lorene Bartos, UNL Extension Educator

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The decorations are up, baking is on the top of the list and there are still a few gifts to purchase. As we purchase those last hard to buy gifts or start the holidays shopping we can help the environment and help families have a safe home by buying practical and useful gifts. This is a great opportunity to help friends and family members have a safe, and more energy efficient home.

A few energy saving and environmentally friendly gifts may include:

* A smoke alarm with batteries.

* A carbon monoxide alarm. Even if they have one already, a second one can act as a backup. It is suggested to have a carbon monoxide alarm outside the bedroom areas and on every floor.

* Crank up flashlights, battery powered radios, solar charger for phones, etc.

* In addition to hand crank or battery powered lighting, exterior solar lighting and LED (Light Emitting Diode) lighting is available. This lighting can mark pathways, steps or sidewalks. Some solar and LED lighting are available with motion lights. With LED, solar powered and florescent lighting, energy use for lighting can be significantly reduced.

* A gift basket with CFL’s (compact florescent lightbulbs) will help a family change out their current bulbs and be more energy efficient.

* A energy basket or kit is another idea. This could include any items that save energy or help reduce energy usage.

* An emergency kit for the home or car are especially nice gifts.

* No flame battery candles are a safe way to display candles and make a neat gift.

* A power strip, battery charger (regular or solar) and rechargeable batteries are good for any family.

* Another way to save financially and share your talents or skills is to give a coupon for help around the home, lawn moving, snow shoveling, washing windows, flower planting in the spring, homemade food items or even babysitting.

* Reusable shopping bags come in all sizes and are decorated for all holidays and sports. Fill one with useable gifts relating to the holiday, sport or even groceries or cleaning products.

* Fleece blanket or throws come in all sizes and are great for a cool evening or a great items to keep in the car for emergencies.

* Wrap gifts in towels, newspaper, comic strips, or even decorated brown paper bags.

Be creative. Think about the person and his or her household needs year round. What items would help make the home and environment safer and healthier?


Ask Lorene

(This resource was updated December 2012 and appeared in the Lincoln Journal Star Newspaper Sunday edition. For information on reproducing this article or using any photographs or graphics, read the Terms of Use statement)

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University of Nebraska-Lincoln in Lancaster County
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