I know it sounds cliché, but Christmas is probably my favorite time of year. I love all the cheesy tunes that come on the radio, the cute Christmas markets, the amazing food, and of course…. presents!
I love finding the perfect gift for my mom or my best friend, and I will usually start my Christmas shopping in November (yes, I am that kind of person). However, in recent years, I have been much more aware of gifting and how it impacts the world. So many gifts are given over the Christmas period, and therefore a lot of waste is created.
According to the Wildlife and Countryside Link, 114,000 tonnes of plastic packaging is not recycled and instead thrown away in the UK every Christmas. Yeah, and we are just talking about the UK!
So, in this article, we are going to be talking about sustainable Christmas gifts. I want to give you some of my tips and tricks for maintaining a sustainable Christmas, and then point you in the right direction regarding brands and companies to buy from.
I also have made sure that all the ideas and gifts I have discussed are affordable. In Europe and around the world, many of us are affected by the current cost of living crisis. This is causing further stress regarding sustainable Christmas gifts, so I have kept this in mind regarding gifts.
Tips for Sustainable Christmas Gifts
Before we look at companies with a range of sustainable Christmas gifts on offer, I want to go through the things I always consider when shopping for Christmas.
Don’t Buy for the Sake of Buying
Okay, I definitely have been guilty of this before. Christmas is looming, and I still have a friend to buy for. So, I go into a retail store and grab some bath stuff and a pair of socks. Done.
But, not being mindful when shopping is actually pretty damaging when it comes to Christmas gifts. Have a think about all the gifts you have received over your life. How many of them sat on the shelf for a while, before getting dumped into a bin?
When shopping for your friends and family, always ask yourself, ‘will they actually want this?’. Most people actually would prefer less or no gifts than something that they don’t actually need or want.
Think Quality Not Quantity
In a similar vein, it is important to consider quality over quantity. A big bag of gifts may seem fun at first, but the reality soon will sink in when your loved ones have tonnes of things that they just don’t need.
Buying fewer gifts and concentrating on their quality means that they are less likely to be chucked away. If you have a big family or friendship group, consider doing a secret Santa. This means that each of you has someone specific you are buying for, meaning more thought can go into the gifting.
Be Mindful of Greenwashing
When going into stores or looking online for gifts, be aware of greenwashing. This is the phenomenon of companies making out that they are doing things to look after the planet, when they actually are not.
We have a guide on greenwashing, so you know what to look out for when shopping for sustainable Christmas gifts.
Think About Packaging
A major issue with gifting is the amount of plastic packaging that is included in presents. When shopping, always take note of the packaging of a gift. If there is too much plastic on a product, can you find one similar that has less waste?
Also, avoid wrapping paper. There is really no need for it. Of course, there is eco-friendly wrapping paper available, however, this is still causing unnecessary waste. Instead, opt for paper bags or fabric wrapping. Plus, these forms of gift-gifting can be reused.
I have a big cupboard in my home with all the bags that I have received presents in, and reuse them every time I need to give a gift. Then, when my friends are giving me something for my birthday, they use the bag again!
I remember a few years ago when my brother wrapped all his Christmas presents in his own clothes, which he then took back after we had opened the presents. Okay, I am not telling you to do this, (although it was funny), but it shows that being creative can help the planet!
Are there Christmas markets or festivals in your city? Where I live, the town center is full of stalls during December that showcase local boutiques and brands. If your city offers something similar, head down one evening to find some unique sustainable Christmas gifts!
Oh, and Christmas markets are just super cute. Not long now until I will be there, walking around the stalls with a yummy cup of mulled wine…
Sustainable Christmas Gifts: Homemade
If you have the time, homemade items are a perfect choice for a sustainable Christmas gift. Okay, I know the idea of crafting might scare you if you are not too creative, but, there are so many easy options for homemade gifts. Loads of people really appreciate homemade gifts as they feel super personal. Plus, crafting is fun.
If you love to knit, get yourself making winter mittens for your loved ones. Or, if you like embroidery, create some wall hangings. I actually got into embroidery a few years back and created wall hangings for all my friends and family. Okay, there weren’t amazing, but everyone was really touched by their personalized gift! Love to crochet? Make your friends some cute tote bags!
Pressed flowers are also a great idea for gifts. My friend makes these incredible wall hangings by getting glass frames from thrift stores and putting pressed flowers in them. You can also put them in coasters and key rings.
Cookies, brownies, jams, and other preserves are all perfect homemade Christmas presents. You can’t go wrong with giving your loved ones something properly tasty.
Homemade Christmas Gifts: Candles!
If you want to get creative for Christmas but lack time, I recommend making your own candles. You can make a bunch of candles in an evening, and they are such good gifts. Plus, they are really easy to make.
I have found that there is always so much wax left in a candleholder once the wick has burned, so I will usually melt down the excess wax in a candleholder to create new candles. You can also pick up wax blocks for a reasonable cost. Wicks are pretty cheap, too. You can buy 100 wicks for under a fiver!
Get to a thrift shop and buy some second-hand containers for the candles. Small plant pots also make for good candleholders. Melt down the wax, place the wicks in the containers, and pour in the wax. Then, leave them to dry overnight.
If you want to, you can get creative with colors and essential oils.
Sustainable Christmas Gift Ideas: What to Buy
Now, let’s go through some sustainable Christmas gifts that you can buy for your friends and loved ones.
Eco Soaps and Bath Products
Soaps, smellies, bubbles, and creams are Christmas classics. But, a lot of these you buy in big shops are packaged in a ridiculous amount of plastic, with chemicals in that you kind of don’t want anywhere near you.
Thankfully, there are so many great companies that aim to provide us with eco-friendly and sustainable soaps and bath products. Check out our guide to sustainable beauty brands to find the best sustainable Christmas gifts for you and your friends.
Houseplants are a great choice for a sustainable Christmas gift. They look amazing and many actually help with purifying the air, creating a cleaner environment. Bringing plants into the home is also a tradition is many cultures in the winter months, as it brings a bit of life and green into an otherwise dark and gloomy time!
If you are wanting to buy houseplants for a friend for Christmas, make sure you consider their experience levels with plants and if they have children or pets. A lot of houseplants are toxic, so best avoid these if they have cats that love to munch on leaves!
Beginner-friendly, non-toxic houseplants include:
- Spider plants
- Parlor Palms
- Boston Fern
- Christmas Cactus
- Prayer Plant
Gift Experiences and Vouchers
Gift experiences are becoming increasingly popular, with a range of companies having loads of options for experiences for your loved ones. From spa days to meals to virtual learning experiences, there is something for everyone when it comes to gift experiences!
If you are considering buying something like this for a friend, I recommend looking for vouchers from local businesses. Spas will often sell gift vouchers for massages or treatments that you can give to people at Christmas.
Chocolate and Christmas go hand in hand, so you may be looking at gifting some choccies to your loved ones. But, stay mindful when shopping for chocolate, and make sure you are always buying Fairtrade.
Fairtrade is a global group who assesses the production of certain products and ensures that the farmers and workers all earn a livable income. When opting for chocolate that has the Fairtrade certification, you are making sure that your gifts are coming from the right place.
Sustainable Christmas Gifts: Where to Buy
When wanting to find the best sustainable Christmas gifts for your friends and family, it is useful to go to companies that are all about being eco-friendly and having a look at their products for ideas.
Here are some of my favorite websites for sustainable Christmas gifts.
Okay, so Etsy isn’t a company, but this website is packed full of small businesses creating amazing things. It is a bit like an open craft fair, with loads of different gifts available. I always like to check out the jewelry and home sections on there when buying sustainable Christmas gifts, as there are some really cute items you can buy from these small businesses.
Greengiving is a fantastic website that has a range of eco-friendly Christmas gifts. From kitchenware to gardening to office supplies, there is something for everyone on this website. They also have a range of eco-friendly gifts for kids, which I think is excellent, as loads of products for kids are pretty unsustainable. I love the cute wooden puzzle games!
All of their products have at least one certification that proves their claims, for example, the FSC or Fairtrade certifications. These are external, non-profit companies that vet the claims that companies make, so can be trusted.
Wearth is an eco-friendly and vegan online platform that provides affordable and sustainable Christmas gifts. They work with small brands to showcase sustainable products, from soaps to menswear.
They have a huge range of zero-waste products and beautiful jewelry pieces made using recycled silver and gold. Check out their stocking filler section for small gift ideas. Oh, and I am in love with these ceramic jellyfish air plants! Super cute, affordable, and handmade.
WorldFinds sells fair trade jewelry and gifts from around the world. They work with artists and creators to showcase stunning products that are made with love. They are also involved in a lot of charity projects, for example, their Girls Education Fund which provides financial assistance for tuition, books and uniforms.
If you are looking for home ware for your sustainable Christmas gifts, Nkuku has you covered. Their products are handmade and follow the standard globally recognized 10 Principles of Fair Trade. They also focus on traditional ways of making products, using sustainable materials.
I love their tealights made out of recycled glass.
Get Sustainable This Christmas
I hope this article has given you some ideas for sustainable Christmas presents. By looking online and going to local markets and stalls, you are able to find the perfect gifts for your loved ones and protect the planet.
Whether you are going down the handmade route or buying handmade products from small businesses, there are so many ways you can get sustainable this Christmas! Also, make sure to check out our article about sustainable Christmas trees for the greenest tree you can get this Christmas.