Reclaim Your Holidays

Creating fun & meaningful celebrations


Tools for RYH Educators

If you are telling others, “Reclaim Your Holidays!” then these tools are for you.



  Pick 5 Survey (pdf) (doc) --One of our most popular tools!

Twenty quality of life options are listed in this survey, and participants are asked to pick the five qualities most essential to their quality of life.

  Five-Minute Assessment Tool (pdf) (doc)

This activity encourages reflection on past holidays and how to learn from those to reshape the next holiday. 

  Book and Resource List (pdf)

This list of books and resources might help you and others simplify life during the holidays. Download and share with others at your gatherings.

  Gratitude Letter as a Gift (pdf)

Not the same as a “thank you note,” Gratitude Letters give you an opportunity to examine the pleasure and meaning you get from a relationship, and share that with a significant person in your life.

  Happiness Video >

Does lots of stuff equal happiness? This two-minute video from Public Broadcasting Service Kids is a great illustration for children and adults alike. Show during a Reclaim Your Holidays presentation or simply share the link in an email, on Facebook, or through a blog.


  RYH Pocket Guide / One card (pdf) | Six cards (pdf) | 8.5" x 11" (pdf)

Take action toward a richer, more meaningul future! Download and print these tips for success to carry with you and to give to your audiences as a daily reminder. Print shops may find it easiest to print using the one card pdf or the six card pdf. Ask your local printer which they prefer. You may also print the guide on standard paper for yourself.

  Printable Gift Certificates

Download and print the gift certificates you'd like to try and/or share with your audiences. Colorful and inexpensive envelopes add a nice touch (standard A2 envelopes available at local print shops and art supply stores).

  • “I made a charitable donation in your name to _______________.” (pdf)
  • “This certificate is good for _______________.” (pdf)
  • A Gift from Me to You certificate - Pamper a mom with this selection. (pdf)
  • Blank gift certificate - fill in your own gift ideas and let your gift recipient choose! (pdf)

  Pledge Cards

Space to collect contact information (pdf) | Without contact information (pdf) 
Download and print these pledge cards and ask participants to make a pledge: “What one thing will you do to make your holiday more meaningful or greener?” A public pledge is one sure way to help people make a desired change.

Printing Tip: For best results, look to see that your printer does not “scale to fit printer margins/shrink to printable area” in the Print Setup window (wording may vary). Simply uncheck that box or choose “none” before printing. This will ensure that your pledge cards print correctly so you can trim them to a uniform size.


Organized by category (some pdfs appear in more than one category).


 Creative Gift Ideas

  • Clear away the holiday clutter (pdf)
  • Create meaning by taking control of your finances (pdf)
  • Farmers market gift ideas (pdf)
  • Gifts for kids (pdf)
  • Give gifts of experience (pdf)
  • Give a green gift (pdf)
  • Gratitude letter as a gift (pdf)
  • Second-hand is in vogue (pdf)
  • Spoiling grandkids: A guide for parents  (pdf) NEW!
  • Spoiling grandkids: A guide for generous grandparents, aunts and uncles (pdf) NEW!
  • Strengthen local connections by giving Iowa-made gifts (pdf)


 Green Entertaining

  • Decorate with green in mind (pdf)
  • Plan a green get together (pdf)
  • Prepare an Iowa-grown meal to celebrate with family and friends (pdf)
  • Farmers market gift ideas (pdf)
  • Recycle through the holidays (pdf)

 Holiday Waste Reduction

  • Give gifts of experience (pdf)
  • Second-hand is in vogue (pdf)
  • Clear away the holiday clutter (pdf)
  • Decorate with green in mind (pdf)
  • Plan a green get together (pdf)
  • Recycle through the holidays (pdf)

Iowans' Stories and Innovative Ideas (pdf) (doc)




  The following are activities, many adaptable from 20 minutes up to 60 minutes. The target audience is adults and these can be presented in a wide variety of venues from Rotary and Lions Clubs meetings to congregational forums, or as classes for seniors or parents or women’s groups.  Use your creativity!

  • Bringing More Meaning and Pleasure to the Season (Time: 50 minutes) (pdf)
  • Great Ideas for Year-Around Gift-Giving (Time: 20-40 minutes) (pdf)   
  • Eight Steps for Creating Richer, More Meaningful Celebrations (Time: 25-45 minutes) (pdf)   
  • Increase Pleasure and Meaning by Learning from the Past (Time:  20-45 minutes) (pdf)   
  • Spoiling Grandkids: The Greatest Gift = YOU! (pdf)  NEW!
  • Understanding the Reasons to Reclaim Your Holidays (Time: 10 minutes) (pdf)  --  Designed especially for presentations to "Friends of..." boards and other boards and/or leaders.
  • Using Creativity, Cookies and Conversations to Build Relationships (pdf
  • Media Talking Points (docx)--If you host a program, invite the media. Here are some tools to help you talk with them.

  Four-Part “Reclaim Your Holidays” Workshop Series

Lesson plans, handouts and publicity samples (pdf) | Lesson plans, handouts and publicity samples (doc) | Handouts and publicity samples only (doc)




  Poster (pdf)

Download our poster to help begin Reclaim Your Holidays conversations. Print the full-color poster yourself at smaller sizes, or share this link with your local printer who can download and print the full-size poster for you (original poster size: 20” w x 30” h).

 Download printable display poster (pdf)

  Display Panels

Use our full, three-panel display to help educate your audiences! Download these full-color display panels to print yourself in smaller sizes to post on a bulletin board, or share the links to the pdf files with your local printer who can download the files to create a full-size table top display (original size of each panel: 22” w x 34” h).


   Download left panel | Download center panel | Download right panel

Spruce up your display with examples of environmentally friendly gift ideas! Include printable gift certificate samples, copies of good books (pdf), and sustainably wrapped gifts on the display table to help people imagine trying these ideas:





  Open House Tasks (doc)

Download the chart UNI’s CEEE used to help plan their holiday gathering. We hope this template helps you organize your party.


  Green Entertaining (click to view)

View our Green Entertaining page for examples and downloadable pdfs sharing more complete lists of ideas on how to host a more meaningful and sustainable holiday party.


  Lessons Learned (pdf)

UNI’s Center for Energy and Environmental Education hosted a Green Holidays Open House, and afterward compiled this helpful list of tips and lessons learned.



  Media Releases

The following media releases are available for your use! Feel free to copy and modify to promote your own Reclaim Your Holidays effort.

  • Communication is Key to Holiday Sanity (docNEW!
  • Introduction to Reclaim Your Holidays / CEEE’s RYH initiative (doc
  • Give Gifts of Experience to Satisfy Friends & Family (doc)    NEW!
  • Delectable Goodies at Local Farmer's Markets Make Great Gifts (doc)   NEW!
  • How to Reclaim Your Holidays / the fundamentals (doc)
  • County Conservation Board newsletter – “I’m Dreaming of a ‘Green’ Christmas” a naturalist’s perspective on the holidays (pdf) (doc)
  • Two Minute Reminder of What Really Makes Us Happy (doc)   NEW!
  • Two Tools to Tame the Holiday Turmoil (doc)   NEW!
  • Workshop Series / for holiday presentations (doc)
  • Utility Company Newsletter / energy savings (doc)
  • Buying Used (doc)

  Media Talking Points

Plan to talk with your local access television or local radio station this year to promote Reclaim Your Holidays concepts. Here are some tips on what to say and how to say it.  NEW!

  Media Articles

Read past articles to get ideas for ways you might share your efforts with the media.

  Reclaim Your Holidays Newsletter Archives

August 2013--Articles for reprint: Alternative gifts & Farmer's Market gifts, Learner-center activities, Sign up for webinar series (pdf)
September 2013 -- Cookies & Conversations presentation, tools for promoting RYH with your audiences, & media talking tips (pdf)

October 2013 -- Practice holiday communication; find quality not quantity in Happiness video; develop book display (pdf)

November/December 2013 -- Create memories with gifts of experience; Why consume less?; Discover ready-to-go news releases (pdf)

January/February 2014 -- Setting 2014 intentions; Using cookies/conversation activity for spring events; Requesting feedback with a bonus for you! (pdf)

March/April 2014 -- Explore great Earth Month ideas; Engage partners for RYH events; Understand how our choices impact our environment (pdf)

  RYH Logos

Download color logo (medium resolution)

Download bw logo (medium resolution)



(Videos, handouts, links, and more...):


  Consuming Less, Consuming Differently 

Want to know why consuming less and consuming differently are so important? David Allway, policy analyst, Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, lays out some of the reasons -- as well as what Oregon is doing to address this important environmental issues -- in this PowerPoint presentation. From "Managing Waste" to "Managing Materials" is a large document, so please be patient as it downloads.


  Tasks and Timelines (pdf) (docNEW!

This document may help you plan a program.


  Media Talking Points (docx)  NEW!

Plan to talk with your local access television or local radio station this year to promote Reclaim Your Holidays. Here are some tips on what to say and how to say it.  NEW!


  Halloween Costume Swap Planning Notes (pdf) (doc)

Plans are underway for Halloween Costume Swaps in at least two Iowa communities--one in Iowa City/Coralville, and one in Cedar Rapids. Here you’ll find Iowa City/Coralville meeting agendas and minutes, as well as draft news releases and a draft email which will go to second-hand shops to request costume donations.  Stay tuned at this page for more updates.

Holiday Tips (doc)

One simple way to spread the word is to post Reclaim Your Holidays tips. Download this sheet, then copy and paste the ideas you want to share online through Facebook, a blog, on exercise equipment, in public restroom stalls, or through email. The possibilities are endless.

  Alternative Gifts Handout (pdf)

Downloadable postcard-size handouts with information on Green Gifts, Green Gift Wrapping, and web resources for both. Ideal reminders for a display or RYH event. (Ready to print 4/per page, front & back.)

  RYH Event Flyer / With description (doc) | Without description (doc)

Download this Word document, enter your own information, and email or print to spread the word about your event.

  Business Cards (pdf)

Introduce Reclaim Your Holidays and point people to the website with these cards. Download and print to help spread the word! (Use this file to print front to back onto cardstock with your home/office printer, or find a local printer to print them for you.)

  What the Research Shows (pdf) (doc)

Find research information to help you share the Reclaim Your Holidays message with others!.

  Reclaim Your Holidays/Green Celebrations Webinar Series

"Rethinking Celebrations" (partial recording, September 2013)
"Rethinking Celebrations" (pdf)  (for the ppt version, contact Reclaim Your Holidays)

"Simplify Gift-Giving, Food & Gatherings" (recording, September 2013)
"Simplify Gift-Giving, Food & Gatherings" (pdf)  (for the ppt version, contact Reclaim Your Holidays)

"Taking Reclaim Your Holidays/Green Celebrations to Your Community" (recording, September 2013)
"Taking Reclaim Your Holidays/Green Celebrations to Your Community" (pdf) (for the ppt version, contact Reclaim Your Holidays)

- - - - -

"Rethinking Celebrations" (recording, February 2013)
"Rethinking Celebrations" (ppt)

"Simplify Gift-Giving, Food & Gatherings" (recording, February 2013)
"Simplify Gift-Giving, Food & Gatherings" (ppt)

"Taking Green Celebrations to Your Community" (recording, February 2013)
"Taking Green Celebrations to Your Community" (ppt)



In our effort to bring you ways to reclaim your holidays, we found many inspirational ideas. Here are some other websites we most enjoyed, and hope you do, too!

Visit our Facebook page for more ideas... and contribute your own!