We are in no way saying tone down the decorations. The more the merrier, for sure. Heck, get gaudy and have some fun! Shock the renters next door. But this year try using LED lights. They use 90 percent less energy than regular Christmas lights. HolidayLEDs.com will even recycle your LED lights after they die, and send you a 15 percent coupon for their replacements.
If you're stumped on what to get certain people on your list, try a charity donation. Through Heifer International, you can buy a flock of chicks for a hungry family anywhere from Cameroon to the Caribbean for just $20. Or donate supplies in somebody's name to a medical mission organization like Physicians For Peace. Or if Ken Burns' new documentary got to you, sponsor one of the national parks through the Sierra Club, or better yet, plan a trip to one!
No need to chop down a tree just for a few weeks' enjoyment. Try buying a live tree (with root ball attached) so you can plant it afterwards (or gift it on Christmas morning to someone with a backyard - bonus!). If you live in San Francisco, you can rent a tree. Potted trees are delivered then picked up and replanted after you've "borrowed" them from the earth for a few weeks. Or try buying a tree from an all-natural tree farm that didn't use pesticides to grow it. Green Promise has a list of organic tree farms in 22 states. Another option: Go avant garde and make an alternative Christmas tree from any number of things in your home. If you cover it with enough ornaments, anything could work.
Want more holiday ideas? Here are 5 Great Holiday Decorations Under $20 and some Home Safety Tips for the Holidays.