Wilderness-Friendly Holidays: Great Tips for Enriching the Season

As you ponder the stresses of another frenzied holiday shopping season, consider this: The time you spend at the mall could be used instead to create wilderness-friendly holiday traditions that are both kind to Mother Nature and enriching to your family.

Giving the gift of quality time in nature and creating family traditions that focus on preservation of our earth can be as lovely a present as anything out of a box. Better yet, such gifts last for life when you consider the long-lasting memories they create.

During the holidays, many of our staff members at The Wilderness Society naturally gravitate toward such wilderness-centered traditions. With that in mind, we’ve whipped up a few tips we'd like to share with your family.

Enjoy the list. Take what you like and discard the rest. But whatever you do, have a joyous holiday season filled with warmth, love and a connection to wild places!

Tips for putting wilderness into the holidays:

  • Give the gift of time together in nature: Resolving to spend just a little less time shopping for material gifts and more time together with family or friends can help free up time for outdoor rituals that can be cherished for years to come. An annual winter hike or visiting a national forest to select a Christmas tree is a perfect tradition.
  • Take in the quiet beauty of winter: Tired of the crowds? Give the gift of a cross-country skiing trip, a day of snowshoeing, or ice-skating at a local pond. Many national parks offer ranger-led snowshoe and cross-country ski tours. Reservations are required but costs are next to nothing.
  • A lifelong gift for children: What could be better than a gift that teaches an appreciation of nature? If you have children, grandchildren or nieces or nephews, take them on a magical winter outing to your favorite wild place. To add to the fun, bring thermoses filled with hot chocolate, or with younger children, hold a winter scavenger hunt, giving each child a list of plants, winter animals or fun geologic features to locate. Or, turn the trip into an educational day by pointing out the changes to the land and wildlife behavior in wintertime.
  • Give a gift to Mother Earth: Save some of her resources by buying gifts and cards made from organic or recycled materials, or make and bake your own gifts.
  • Create fun while decreasing holiday waste: Instead of buying holiday decorations, have a family popcorn-stringing night or create decorations from old holiday cards. Or throw a green, gift-wrapping night, using crayons to draw your own designs on newspaper that can be reused as gift wrap.
  • Get quirky: Start a family gift-making contest that decreases the resources used during the holidays. Have every member of the family make one gift for another family member – from items already around the home. Then give prizes for the most creative, innovative or funniest present.
  • Reuse your trees: If you buy a Christmas tree, recycle it after the holidays or consider purchasing a live tree with root bulb intact from a tree farm. After the holidays, plant the tree in the yard to soak up carbon and provide enjoyment year-round.
  • Give a gift that makes a difference: Consider giving a donation to conservation in your loved one’s name. The Wilderness Society offers honor gifts here.
  • Give the gift of enduring wilderness: You can do this through a membership gift in The Wilderness Society. Membership includes our gorgeous Wilderness magazine, a small portfolio of Ansel Adams work and regular newsletters.

Got your own wilderness or green holiday tips? Share them with our online community by clicking the “add new comment” button.