After the LONGEST year ever…it’s finally almost Christmas! And with the Christmas season inevitably comes presents. While I am a huge fan of all things Christmas, something that has always bothered me about this season is the throw-away culture of gift giving and getting. So many gifts are bought simply out of obligation and may or may not be something the receiver actually wants or needs. If you really think about, this is quite an unsustainable system. Imagine all of the resources used each year on Christmas gifts alone. And think of how much of that goes completely unused. I know what some of you might be thinking… “Wow, this girl sounds like a Scrooge.” But the truth is, the joy of Christmas shouldn’t rest upon filling the space of an obligation gift, but giving something meaningful and/or purposeful, whether that’s a gift, a handmade card, an experience, or simply spending quality time together. Today’s post is meant to provide practical examples of sustainable gifts for you to give your loved ones this year.
Growing up with a mom that was a calligrapher, receiving a handmade card was one of my favorite things, and definitely still is. I even had started a little card-making businesses when I was a kid. Now that I’m older, receiving a thoughtful, handmade card with a personalized note written inside is really the best present. It’s personal, sentimental, and shows that the gift-giver really put time and effort into your gift. You really can’t go wrong with a handmade card.
Gifting someone a fun experience is definitely sustainable and more meaningful than most physical gifts. Experience gifts provide quality time together and create memories that can last a lifetime. Some examples of experience gifts are concert tickets to the person’s favorite band, a trip to the zoo, tickets to a broadway show, or I-O-U date nights. It can be fun to get creative with these. What’s important is that you know it’s something that the gift-receiver will really enjoy.
Pictures in a Frame
A picture really is worth a thousand words. If you have a good picture of you and the gift-receiver, you can’t go wrong with putting it in a nice frame and using that as your gift, along with a nice handwritten note or card. And make sure the frame is something they would like and that would match their current decor. Then every time they look at your gift, they will think of this memory with you. And what’s more valuable than that?
Is your gift-receiver a foodie or pastry-lover who would enjoy a tasty treat? If so, show that you are thoughtful and attentive to what they like by making them a personalized baked good or food item. This is the perfect type of sustainable gift because it’s literally consumable and if not, it’s also biodegradable. (;
When you really want to give a physical gift, going secondhand is always a good idea. Whether this is something of yours that can be a sentimental hand-me-down or an item from a secondhand or vintage store, a pre-owned gift is a great way to stay out of throw-away gift culture.
Jar of Compliments
I’ve seen this done a few times and always thought it was such a sweet idea. What better way to show someone you love and appreciate them than by telling them all of the ways you love and appreciate them? If you’re close enough to someone to do this for them, it’s definitely something they will hold onto forever.
Personal Gifts from Small Businesses
Purchasing from small businesses is often more sustainable than purchasing from large stores, simply because the throw-away culture is not as present. Everything is produced on a much smaller scale, and therefore, things tend to be seen as more valuable. Not only is this a sustainable approach, but it’s a great way to help contribute to the success of small businesses after a very tough year.
Things You KNOW They’ll Use
When all else fails and you really just need to buy someone a brand new, store-bought gift, make sure it’s something they will use and enjoy. Just because you would enjoy getting a particular gift, doesn’t mean that everyone would. So really try to think in terms of personalization. What is something this particular person really wants or needs?
Lastly, I wanted to mention two other suggestions that I always find really fun. The first is minimal wrapping. If you are wrapping a gift, see if you can get used paper bags from the grocery store or something else that can be repurposed. Not only is this sustainable, but it also makes for a nice rustic-style wrapping. The second suggestion is doing a Secret Santa exchange among friends and family members rather than a full-on gift exchange for everyone. This is more cost-effective and makes it easier to personalize your gift for the gift-receiver.
Those are my 8 sustainable gift ideas for this holiday season! Hopefully you will find one or two of them useful and be a pro gift-giver this year! Merry Christmas!