• Juliet Dale

The 2019 Ultimate Eco-Friendly Gift Guide

Updated: Dec 9, 2019

'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! I have a bit of a motto: 'If change doesn't feel good then you're not doing it right'. For me, having no presents would not feel right! I know Christmas is about family, love, being together, all that stuff... but let's be honest... it's about presents too. I like to receive a gift as much as the next person, and I like giving gifts ̶e̶v̶e̶n̶ ̶m̶o̶r̶e̶ just as much. 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...

I don't know about you but the best presents I've ever received have been homemade.  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 in a jar or pancake mix in a bottle - yum!

-Sugar Scrub (ridiculously easy to make!)

-Funky rainbow crayons - melted down from broken bits

-Beeswax Wraps

-Bliss ball mix

-Baking / Christmas Cake


-Smoothie bombs

-A potted plant / kokedama / airplant

-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', 'Bobs 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

-Photo book/calendar etc or a framed picture

-Seed bombs

-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).

-Kitchen herbs in tin cans

-Playdough / slime

-Christmas stockings

-A voucher book for things you know they'll love; breakfast in bed, sleep ins, 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.

-A class that they are interested in - cooking, music, pole dancing!

-Theme park/ trampoline park/climbing wall tickets

-Tickets to the theatre / ballet / comedy

-Tickets to a sports match

-A lecture on something they are passionate about

-Concert tickets

-Workshop - chocolate making, breadmaking, soap or candle making

-A pass for the golf Driving Range or a golf lesson with a pro.

-Masssage/ Facial, Spa Vouchers

-Driving lessons

-Wine tasting

-Tickets to the Gardening Show

-Yoga/gym classes

-Pub Crawl

-Museum Tickets

-Weekend away (anything from tramping and camping to luxurious!)

-Manicure / Pedicure

-Photo shoot

-Movie vouchers

-Coffee/meal vouchers

-Skydiving/bungee jumping etc

-Hot air balloon ride

-Membership - toy library, zoo, MOTAT, Kelly Tarltons, bowls club, gardening club...

-Voucher for food delivery / fruit box. Know an avocado-lover? Check out

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.

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?

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 lemoncello, 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.  Excuse the gender stereotypes... I had to class them somehow and I didn't want to repeat anything.  I purposely didn't split up the babies, kids and teens into gender though, cause, hey, let's just let them be them. Read all the lists regardless of gender or 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!

Here we go... the Top 10 Eco-Gifts for Him, Her, Teens, Kids, Babies and the person-who-has-everything ,coming right up!

-A homebrew kit

-Subs Jandals made from repurposed plastic pollution

-A reusable coffee cup or drink bottle

-Thunderpants undies

-A Safety Razor/ Shaving soap and brush / Beard oil or balm

-Pala Eyewear sunglasses

-Sewlove beach towel handmade from recycled towels

-CW Works tomohawk from recycled skateboards

-Kombucha starter kit

-A tea strainer with a lovely tea (check out Charity Tea)

-SOAPS! Solid Shampoo/Conditioner/Cleanser... (Ethique have even done an Advent Calendar with 25 sample bars!)  Check out Miabelle and Dirty Hippie for some great local brands. Or how about a lovely wooden/bamboo soap dish?

-A beautiful recycled Sari kimono from Oxfam Shop

-Okewa Rainwear (Raincoats made from plastic bottles)

-Fannys Fanny Packs or Outliv beautiful recycled fabric bags made with low-zero waste.

-Ethical handcrafted jewellery from Bohome and Roam

-Karen Murrell lipstick

-Aleph Beauty makeup

-Miss Vintage repurposed plates and teacups (make sure you check these out, they're hilarious!)

-Ethique beauty bars or their advent calendar which has samples of lots of their solid beauty bars

-Subs jandals

-Keep cup

-Pela compostable phone case

-Stainless steel drink bottle.

-Karen Murrell lipstick

-Sharper Thinker DIY Bluetooth Speaker Kit

-Natural lip balm (huge range here)

-Magazine subscription

-Natural perfumes/aftershaves like these from Miabelle

-A Gooseboard skateboard (Handmade in NZ from recycled timber)

-Music download voucher

-Guatemalan worry dolls (because we all remember what it was like to be a teenager!)

-Stainless steel drink bottle

Check out 'men' and 'women' for more ideas for teens

-Reusable water balloons - yes it's a real thing!

-Sharper Thinker make your own flashlight

-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, like these beautiful NZ made ones from Moo and the Gang

-Wooden flower press like this one from Isla and Olive

-Gardening kit/gloves/seeds

-No Nasties play makeup

-Selection of toys and puzzles from The Oxfam Shop or 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

-A handmade fairy door like these from Pioneer Wooden Toys

-Wooden marble run

-A handmade wooden marae, waharoa or Whare from Expressions of Winter

-Handmade wooden dolls pram, highchair and cot from Needle and Nail

-Handmade wooden mower, chainsaw or sewing machine from Needle and Nail

-Handmade wooden fishing set or bow and arrow from Needle and Nail

-Honeysticks beeswax crayons or bath crayons (LOTS more ideas in experiences, homemade and secondhand above)

-The Noisy Box by Enzo and Fox (a collection of four wooden musical instruments), or check out The Jingle Box

-A Plunket/Wellchild Book Cover - unique and personalised

-A living tree gift to grow alongside baby - check out

-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 name puzzle from Chip of Nature

-Something practical! A baby soap, DIY reusable wipes kit, a voucher for/ starter pack of Little & Brave compostable nappies.

-Oxfam Unwrapped Gifts or Tearfund Gift for Life.

-A funky, biodegradable doormat from Don't be a Doormat

-A tree! We could all do with another tree in our lives! You can buy someone an actual plant/tree, or check out Million Metres Streams Project - where you can select a tree type, and the stream that you would lie it to be planted at.

-Reusable straws or cutlery (Bamboo/silicone/Stainless Steel/Glass) you could make a little pouch for them. Check out earthware.

-The Good Registry - give a gift card where the recipient gets to choose which charities are donated to.

-Compostable Luffa, like these organic ones from Uniqa NZ

-A Reusable Coffee Cup

-A teapot and UFO teacosy with inbuilt flashing lights - now who DOESN'T need that?! Check out Tricot et Toile for this and more amazing teapot art.

-Dish cloths (lots of lovely recycled/compostable ones in very cool designs available now)

-Wooden comb/brush (can get personalised ones, along with toothbrushes)

-Blunt Umbrella

-Wet bag (for in a kindy/school bag/ gym bag)

-A Frank 2019 Diary - every one bought gives back to children in need

-Stationary - Mymojo stationary made from repurposed plastic

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!).

Image: @dailyflourish

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Auckland, New Zealand

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