This month, green expert and mom Stef Newman, author of, provides creative tips for encouraging your family to stay green at the holidays. Stef strives to help parents “think outside their playroom” and take small but significant steps toward a more eco-friendly lifestyle.

What are some easy, affordable holiday gifts my kids can make for family and friends?

Saving money is surely going to be a continuing trend this holiday season. You can definitely involve your kids by having them make their own gifts instead of buying retail. Craft stores have a ton of ideas for kids to express themselves (at great prices!), like decorating clay pots for plants, making note cards, bookmarks, magnets, photo books or photo collages and creating unique ornaments or picture frames with household recyclables, like cardboard, toilet paper rolls and egg cartons. You can also whip up a batch of cookies or candy with your kids to decorate and give away, or help them create a video on the computer to send to loved ones.

What are some “green” ways to wrap and package our holiday gifts this year?

There are wrapping papers available that are made with post-consumer recycled paper, but wrapping gifts doesn’t require fancy, expensive paper that will be thrown away as soon as it’s ripped off. Kids can decorate paper with their own designs. You can easily purchase a roll of easel paper or brown butcher paper, or use saved brown paper bags. You and your kids can personalize the paper with craft items like markers, crayons, stickers, glitter, glue, yarn and even bottle caps. You can also try wrapping gifts in old fabric and scarves, recycled aluminum foil or saved maps, or try putting gifts in baskets, containers or canvas bags that can be reused for other things after the holidays are over.

Where can I find eco-friendly gifts?

A great place to look for vintage or handmade items—everything from jewelry to clothing to stuffed animals and toys—is on Etsy. Etsy features an amazing collection of artists and other creative people who truly pass on their visions to you. There are also many stores, both online and even in your own neighborhoods, that feature eco-friendly gifts for your entire family. Another personal favorite is Craftsbury Kids, which offers classic, open-play toys and games at prices that won’t break your bank.