Updated: Dec 4, 2022
IF YOU JUST WANT THE LIST - SCROLL DOWN!
Yes, the 'C' word is upon us. (no, not 'Covid', or any other unsavory 'C' word your brain took you to!!) CHRISTMAS! 'Tis the season to be jolly, and nothing says jolly like a fat man in a red suit stacking sack-loads of colorfully wrapped presents under the twinkling Christmas tree! But wait a second... what about that whole sustainable, eco-friendly thing we're working on? How does that tie in with the complete commercialism and indulgences of Christmas presents?
Can we have our Christmas cake and eat it too? Can we take part in the chaos of Christmas morning present opening and still be eco-friendly?
The answer: YES!
Too right! We have a bit of a motto: 'If change doesn't feel good then you're not doing it right'. For us, having no presents would not feel right! We know Christmas is about family, love, being together, all that stuff... but let's be honest... it's about presents too. We like to receive a gift as much as the next person, and I like giving gifts even more. I love that feeling when you know you've got someone something REALLY GOOD, that they're going to LOVE! So how can you do that, without conforming to the buy buy buy culture of Christmas? Read on for six ways to do AWESOME eco-friendly Christmas Presents...
You don't have to be an artist, seamstress or baker to make your own gifts. It just requires a little thought, planning and creating, and it feels amazing. Get inspired by these easy homemade Christmas pressies that anyone can do:
-A cake/ cookie in a jar or pancake mix in a bottle - yum!
-Sugar Scrub (ridiculously easy to make!)
-Kawakawa balm - easier than you may think!
-Funky rainbow crayons - melted down from broken bits of crayons - instructions here
-Bliss ball mix
-Baking / Christmas Cake
-Limoncello (You need to allow three weeks, but it is SO easy! My how-to guide is here)
-A potted plant / kokedama / airplant - if you have a great indoor plant, you could propogate it and share the love.
-Toiletries - Do you make any of your own toiletries? Or are you keen to try? Deodorant, lip balm, bath bombs, toothpaste, cleanser, make up pads? Why not have a bit of fun and create your own homemade funky label - 'Sally's stinky-pit-balm', 'Bob's bomb-diggity bath bombs' or 'Heather's Hippy Toothpaste'? You could even create a 'Happy Hippy Starter Kit'! (Lots of recipes on our Instagram and Facebook page - I can help you find them if you ask in the comments on either social media)
-Relish / chutney / jam - you can never have enough
-Photo book/calendar etc or a framed picture
-A beautiful glass bottle (Ok that bit is not homemade) of DIY multipurpose cleaner, with the recipe so they can keep making it. (So easy to make - just citrus peel infused in vinegar. If you want the instructions just ask in the comments on Instagram or facebook and I'll tag you in the post). The Eco Society have gorgeous amber glass 'Multipurpose Spray' bottles.
-Kitchen herbs in tin cans
-Playdough / slime - or a DIY playdough / slime making kit.
-A voucher book for things you know they'll love; breakfast in bed, sleep ins, coffee dates, foot massages...
Give a gift to remember! It could be something for you to do together, or just something that you know they'll love! If you're short of inspiration, check out the 25-strong list of ideas below! We've got everyone covered from the golfer to the dancer, the sports-mad to the wine connoisseur.
-Check out 'Chuffed' - the recipient gets to choose their experience from a whole lot of unique experiences NZ-wide.
-Entry into a race/marathon / Kiwi Kids Tryathalon
-Voucher for a wardrobe restyle (this is focusing on using the great items you have, rather than buying a whole lot of new clothes)
-A class that they are interested in and that you can do together - cooking, pounamu carving, knife making, music, pole dancing!
-A childcare voucher for parents (a babysitter / babysitting agency, or YOU)
-Sign them up for a digital course on something they love
-Theme park/ trampoline park/climbing wall tickets
-A voucher for a cleaner
-A voucher for a hair treatment at a Sustainable Salon
-Tickets to the theatre / ballet / comedy
-Tickets to a sports match
-A lecture on something they are passionate about - go with them
-Workshop - chocolate making, breadmaking, soap or candle making - go together!
-A pass for the golf Driving Range or a golf lesson with a pro.
-Massage/ Facial, Spa Vouchers - go together!
-Pass/ tickets to a local attraction - make them a tourist in their own town (and support our tourism industry in this tricky time)
-Tickets to the Gardening Show
-Weekend away (anything from tramping and camping to luxurious!)
-Manicure / Pedicure
-Skydiving/bungee jumping/ zip-lining/caving/stand-up paddle boarding/surfing etc
-Hot air balloon ride
-Membership - toy library, zoo, MOTAT, Kelly Tarltons, Rocket Ropes, bowls club, gardening club...
-Voucher for food delivery / fruit box. Check out Perfectly Imprefect or Wonky Box for fruit and veg deliveries that resuce 'imperfect' or 'wonky' food from heading to landfill. Know an avocado-lover? Check out www.theavotree.co.nz
This is a pretty simple one really. Go for a single good quality present that you know someone will love and use. Go in with others, or do a Secret Santa where you buy for only one person each. As extended families grow a nice idea to keep things in check is that each family randomly draws another family and only buys presents for those children. Chat with the other adults in your extended family about whether you really need to being doing gifts for the adults at all.
By supporting local you can know that your pressies were made under ethical conditions and don't have the carbon footprint of something made in a factory on the other side of the globe. Support small businesses that have likely had a tough few years. Support friends and family members' businesses!
You may or may not be comfortable giving gifts that have been pre-loved. But children in particular could not care less if their toys are new or thrifted (in fact new toys are so heavily packaged that they may prefer the easy access second hand ones!). Or what about tracking down a second-hand copy of a special book or record?
I love the idea of giving someone a special book that had a huge impact on you. Write a lovely note inside the cover. Perhaps next Christmas they could pass it on to someone else?
Another idea is to upcycle something second hand.
-Turn a beautiful vintage cup into a candle or planter
-Make a no-sew tote bag out of a funky second-hand teeshirt, (google 'no-sew teeshirt bag')
-Find some beautiful fabrics and make them into baby bunting
-Put together a dress-up box from fabulous thrifted finds!
Or check out this cool idea. Play Robber Santa with your family. Basically everyone brings one gift and everyone ends up with one gift, but you don't know who will get what because it is a fun process of opening and stealing presents (you can google the rules). Put a price limit on the gifts (we find $20 works well) and make the condition that all gifts must be homemade or second-hand. My cousins have been doing this for a few years and they end up with the coolest gifts; beautiful vintage glasswear, homemade limoncello, toffee almond snaps, even a record player!
Give something to encourage others to live a more sustainable life. There are so many wonderful eco-friendly options out there now, we are really spoiled for choice. If you think I've missed something great then please let me know. Read all the lists regardless of age! There are goodies for everyone all through!
Note: None of these are sponsored in any way. Where relevant, I have mentioned makers and creators that make/do something unique, because I think these guys deserve a bit of kudos!
Another great place to look is the fair&good Ethical Marketplace. fair&good is a new not-for-profit (launched in November 2020) dedicated to making ethical shopping easy. Here you can browse through curated brands that live up to your values, and link you directly to their page to shop.
Here we go... the Top 10 (or more, cause sometimes I couldn't stop at 10) Eco-Gifts for the Big Kids, Teens, Kids, Babies and the person-who-has-everything ,coming right up!
Eating, drinking and being merry!
-A homebrew kit
-'Near-beer' - locally made craft beer
-Kombucha starter kit
-Goodie jars from Good For Store or Refill Nation
-27 Seconds Wine - a social enterprise with 100% of profits going towards fighting slavery
-Goodfor almond nut mylk kit
-A reusable coffee cup or drink bottle
-Reusable straws or cutlery (Bamboo/silicone/Stainless Steel/Glass) you could make a little pouch for them. Bento Ninja do a cool 'on-the-go stainless steel cutlery set'.
-Subs Jandals made from repurposed plastic pollution
-Sewlove beach poncho handmade from recycled towels
-Handmade bumbag from Sewlove
-A voucher for a fabulous ethical, sustainable fashion store, like Staple + Cloth, Sooti Organics, Ethereal Threads, LYB Apparel, Recreate Clothing or Kowtow.
Looking (and smelling) good!
-Natural perfume - like these little roll-on ones from Miabelle
-Gorgeous lip balms, dry shampoos and body moisturisers in completely compostable packaging from Aotearoad
-Shaving gear like safety razors, shaving soaps and plastic-free shaving brushes from Totally Balmy
-The brand new range of Ethique Concentrates - a little bar that you mix with boiling water to create liquid haircare / bodywash / body lotion / handwash. (They also do household cleaners, but please don't get her those for Christmas!!)
-SOAPS! Solid Shampoo/ Conditioner/ Cleanser/ Body Wash... Check out these amazing NZ brands: Miabelle , Kalla Beauty, Lusid Beauty (especially great for curly hair), Aoraki Naturals , Fair and Square Soapery, Ethique , Farm Folly (who also do beautiful gift boxes)and Dirty Hippie. Or how about a lovely wooden/bamboo soap dish?
-You can also get a box of natural, palm oil free, NZ made soaps from Beyond Soap - subscriptions also available.
Around the home
-A Made of Tomorrow 2023 diary, calendar or weekly planner- made from recycled coffee cups
-A beautiful wooden picnic box that turns into a wee picnic table when folded out from Waste Free Home.
-Soap dishes, earrings and homewares made from landfill-destined-plastic! Check out Upcycled Plastic.
-A funky, biodegradable doormat from Don't be a Doormat
-Stainless steel clothes pegs, like these from Bento Ninja
-NZ made woolen dishcloths from Baackmywool
-A Cora Ball from LUCKE - the Cora Ball collects our microfibers from the washing machine, so we can dispose of microfibers in the right way, rather than them making their way into our oceans. Just toss the Cora Ball into your washer and start protecting the ocean, its creatures and our human food web!
-Some lovely sustainable NZ cleaning products. Check out the Cleanery Christmas Cleaning Kit or Christmas Handwash kit (do take a moment to consider whether the recipient may be offended receiving cleaning products, handwash could be a safer bet!)
-Outliv beautiful recycled fabric bags made with low/zero waste.
-Recycled glass earrings from Stonearrow jewellery
-Jewellery from Timmy Smith
(See also 'gifts from the person who has everything' below, and 'experience' and 'homemade' gifts above, for more gift ideas for the big kids.)
-Hat from Offcut- they use fabric offcuts to create super cool caps.
-Splashproof bags from Iusedtobe - made from recycled pool toys. Perfect to keep your phone in when you're at the beach!
-Ethique beauty bars, sampler packs or concentrate bars.
-Stainless steel drink bottle.
-Karen Murrell lipstick
-Natural lip balm (great range here at Oh Natural)
-LUCKE have socks and caps made from recycled plastic bottles
-Natural perfumes/aftershaves like these from Miabelle
-A Gooseboard skateboard (Handmade in NZ from recycled timber)
-Music download voucher
Check out 'big kids' as well as 'experiences' and 'homemade' for some more ideas for Teens.
-Reusable water balloons - yes it's a real thing!
-Iron-on patches from Aho Creative
-Handmade clothing for barbie-sized dolls from Little and Pink.
-A gorgeous set of poi from Aho Creative
-Splash Bags! Waterproof bags made from recycled inflatable toys
-Remember the wholesome fun of elastics?? Check out Edie's Elastics.
-A Therm recycled rainjacket with picktures that appear when it gets wet
-Zinc Sticks from Aotearoad
-Create your own Beeswax Food Wraps from Primrose & Co (makes three wraps so great for a family gift)
-Hungry Eyes bake kits for kids - made so that kids can actually take charge in the kitchen. Plastic-free too!
-A DIY Gingerbread House kit (like this one from The Gingerbread Company)
-Bath bombs and bubble wands (that you hold under the tap to create bubbles) from Lush.
-Gorgeous wooden tool set from RNR Designs.
-A bento lunchbox with compartments (no need for clingfilm!) and/or funky beeswax wraps for their sammies. Check out The Lunchbox Queen for lots of options.
-Start a wooden animal collection that you can add to in years to come.
-No Nasties play makeup
-Selection of toys and puzzles from Trade Aid
-A book that will kindle their curiosity and passion for our beautiful world. Check out: The Lorax, LOTS, The Great Paper Caper, The Watcher, Don't let them disappear, Bees and Me, 10 things I can do to help my world, The Water Princess, Compost Stew, The Lonely Polar Beer
-Natural facepaint kit from Green Elephant
-Magic Potion mixes from Play it Forwards NZ
-A handmade fairy door like these from Pioneer Wooden Toys
-Wooden marble run
-A bike nest for storing their special things from Baby Bird Creations
-Amazing wooden educational toys, including a handmade wooden marae from Expressions of Winter
-Handmade wooden toys such as dolls pram, highchair, cot, wooden mower, chainsaw, sewing machine,wooden fishing set or bow and arrow from Needle and Nail
-Honeysticks beeswax crayons or bath crayons
-Handmade chalk from Build'em up
- Mymojo stationary made from repurposed plastic (LOTS more ideas in experiences, homemade and secondhand above)
-A giftbox for new mum and baby, with a collection of Farm Folly's lovely soaps and skincare
-A Plunket/Wellchild Book Cover - unique and personalised
-Handmade (in Wanaka) crochet creations from The Knotted Tales
-A living tree gift to grow alongside baby
-Homemade wooden toys from Children of the Trees
-Heuristic play box (homemade or store bought)
-Good quality wooden toys that will last a lifetime (like these wooden cars made from mill off-cuts Fohfum)
-Start a collection of classic wooden animals which you can add to in future gifts
-A Good Registry gift card gives the recipient the choice of 65 NZ charities to donate to
-Gift a Cleaner Coastline with Sustainable Coastlines. Recipients will receive an e-card wishing them a ‘Merry Coastmas’, as well as information
about how many sacks of coastline rubbish have been removed on their behalf.
-A tree! We could all do with another tree in our lives! You can buy someone an actual plant/tree, or check out the Treetime App- where you can buy a tree and then track its progress from seedling to super-tree, with regular updates and photos, or Million Metres Streams Project - where you can select a tree type, and the stream that you would lie it to be planted at.
Phew! We're done! That's a whopping 100+ eco-friendly ideas for under the Christmas tree! And the other cool thing is that by giving eco-friendly gifts, be they homemade, second-hand, recycled or just sustainable... you are showing others that Christmas doesn't have to be about spending mega-bucks on unnecessary plastic.
'Tis the season to be jolly and nothing says 'jolly' like sustainable, ethical, thoughtful, WONDERFUL gifts that the recipient, and the planet, will thank you for.
Please share this blog with anyone who you think cares about the beautiful planet we live in (and likes presents!).
COVER IMAGE: Kalla Beauty
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