Bet you wouldn't mind a pound for every time someone says within your earshot this festive season: Christmas is too commercialised nowadays.

If you agree with that sentiment it's worth thinking about how that can be addressed, possibly by cutting back on your spending, or maybe by adopting a 'green' approach.

How about sustainable giving, for a start, buying the kind of gifts that don't eat up the earth's resources?

With some careful thought you might even achieve the ultimate - a carbon neutral Christmas.

When you think about it, some Christmas presents fill a practical need and you don't have much choice but to buy them new. But many gifts are really gestures of thoughtfulness, and you can give more while spending less, while at the same time still demonstrating your love for the person in question.

Here are some great examples, and maybe by coming to a prior arrangement with other family members and friends you will all feel much better about the gifts you gave and received in 2007.

Services instead of goods: Gifts of service require little or no use of natural resources, and are very personal and memorable. The gift of 'you' - your time, energy or expertise are worthy as anything you can buy and put in a box. Do you do a mean neck massage, could you offer someone some music lessons, some childcare, a car wash, dogwalk, gardening expertise, tutoring, cooking, or maybe cook a special evening meal for someone so that they can entertain their friends instead of slaving away in a kitchen?

If you have computer expertise could you offer to service someone's PC or put together a holiday snaps presentation for them?

Experiences to enjoy and remember: Giving the gift of an experience can bring fun and provide memories that will be treasured for years. Think about a sports event that your recipient might enjoy, a local attraction they might like to visit such as National Trust or English Heritage venue. Is there a rock-climbing centre nearby where they could try a new activity, or could you buy them an art gallery season ticket.

Think about other things that cost money but that aren't strictly entertainment. Maybe your relation or friend would appreciate your paying the rent at a local allotment, for example. All sorts of possibilities emerge.

Antiques and collectables: A valued present doesn't always have to be one that's shop-bought. Antiques and collectibles have the added appeal of history and sentimental value, and because they're 're-used' there's no impact on the environment. Make sure you go for classy collectable rather than trashy turnout, though.

Edible items: Your time, energy and and culinary creativity are just as valued as something you pay over-the-odds for in a store, so spend some time in the kitchen and come up with a unique gift. The time you spend there will be much more enjoyable for you than traipsing round the shops. The result will be most personal, and easy on the environment. Flower power: If you time it right you can grow all sorts of gifts in your garden or greenhouse, and dress them up with a beautiful presentation basket or pot. Cut flowers or potted plants will be eye-catching, easy on the Earth, and very much appreciated.

'Old' gold jewellery: Think about the jewellery you buy. The environment pays a huge price for each item of new gold jewellery created. Cyanide is a toxic chemical and is used in gold extraction operations worldwide. Left-over cyanide waste is stored in ponds with thin liners that can leak or break. It is not unusual to have spills of cyanide solution and heavy metal-laced water that can contaminate ground water, kill fish and waterfowl, and contaminate drinking water.

About 78 per cent of newly mined gold each year goes toward jewellery fabrication - rings, bracelets, and earrings etc. With over 35,000 tons of gold reserves in the world's central banks, there's enough gold to cover demand for primary metal at the current levels of use for more than 14 years.

If our consumption of gold jewellery were to be significantly reduced, the gold stored in reserves could last us for close to a century.

'Old' gold looks just as good as new, so look out for it at antique shops, boot sales and in jewellers.

Many jewellers can also recast new designs with gold supplied from antique or out of style pieces you may have at home.

Spread the word: If you feel 'cheap' or guilty about giving such a gift, present it with a certificate or special gift tag outlining your thinking. You could say something such as: "I know how you love nature - this gift comes to you at no expense to the environment and with all our love in a spirit of care and concern for our future."

And you could always sweeten the pill further by offering some Fairtrade or Organic chocolate!