JoAnne Skelly: Gift giving time is here, by golly!

I’m writing this before Thanksgiving and stores have been decorated for the holidays with their red, green, silver, gold and white “HO HO HO” wares for weeks now. Christmas is only a month away and Chanukah begins Dec. 24. Let’s talk unusual presents for the gardeners on your list.

Planting a tree might be an appreciated gift for a special person. Whether you purchase and help plant a tree at someone’s home or donate a tree in that special someone’s name to a school, church, temple, synagogue or park, a tree is a lasting gift. When deciding what tree to plant, consider what your gift receiver might need or like such as shade, flowers, fruit or bird habitat. Before you assume that a tree can be planted in your gift recipient’s favorite park or at their place of worship check with either the parks department or grounds keepers of the church to ensure they are able to receive the gift and able to plant it. suggests planting a tree for a baby’s first Chanukah or Christmas in the state or even country of your choice.

Another option is to make a donation to have a tree planted in a state or country that is doing a reforestation project. Various organizations, such as take donations to reforest burned or other areas affected by natural disasters. replants trees in forests across the United States and the world. They have a nice gifting notice that goes out when you buy a tree for a loved one. Other groups focus on replanting tropical rain forests. Rain forests cover only 2 percent of the Earth’s surface, but they provide habitat and nutritional support for almost half of the Earth’s known living species. It’s hard to believe that 2 percent of the forests support 50 percent of the living things.

Here’s another twist on the giving idea. Go to the Bureau of Land Management office and get a tree-cutting permit. Take someone to whom you would have given a gift out and help them cut a tree for their house instead. If you decide to do this, don’t cut the tops out of trees, don’t cut the best trees, but choose trees growing too closely together. Regard your tree cutting as a thinning process to encourage better forest health, rather than just to maximize a holiday decoration since a pinyon can take 60 years to reach six feet.

Let your giving bring pleasure and support the environment.

JoAnne Skelly is Associate Professor & Extension Educator, Emerita at University of Nevada Cooperative Extension. She can be reached at


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