The 2021 Eco-Friendly Christmas Gift Guide

Updated: Dec 1, 2021


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! 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/ cookie in a jar or pancake mix in a bottle - yum!

-Sugar Scrub (ridiculously easy to make!)

-Kawakawa balm - something I made for the first time this year, and *spoiler alert for my family* everyone will be getting some this Christmas.

-Funky rainbow crayons - melted down from broken bits of crayons - instructions here

-Beeswax Wraps

-Bliss ball mix

-Baking / Christmas Cake

-Limoncello (You need to allow three weeks, but it is SO easy! My how-to guide is here)

-Smoothie bombs

-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 - I've never made the first two, but with strawberry season upon us, jam could be on my gift this this year!

-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). The Eco Society have gorgeous amber glass 'Multipurpose Spray' bottles.

-Kitchen herbs in tin cans

-Playdough / slime - or a DIY playdough / slime making kit.

-Christmas stockings

-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, 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

-Concert tickets

-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)

-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, Rocket Ropes, 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?

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.  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!

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

-Trade Aid Organic Chocolate in compostable packaging, Honest Chocolate

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

-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'.

Dressing up

-Underwear from a great 'made in NZ' business like Unde , Nisa or Thunderpants

-Subs Jandals made from repurposed plastic pollution

-Sewlove beach towel handmade from recycled towels

-Sleepwear that doubles at loungewear and leisurewear, made right here in NZ. La Lune.

-Handmade bumbag from Sewlove

-A voucher for a fabulous ethical, sustainable fashion store, like Staple + Cloth, Sooti Organics, Ethereal Threads, Recreate Clothing or Kowtow.

Looking (and smelling) good!

-A gift pack for Him from Miabelle including shaving bar, deodorant, all-in-1 bar and solid perfume - all natural and plastic-free.

-Eco-friendly make up: Eco Minerals natural makeup, Karen Murrell lipstick, Indigo and Iris Mascara and Aleph Beauty makeup - check out Oh Natural for a fantastic range.

-Natural perfume - I love 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 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... Check out Miabelle , Kalla Beauty, Lusid Beauty (especially great for curls), Aoraki Naturals , Fair and Square Soapery, Ethique , Farm Folly (who also do beautiful gift boxes)and Dirty Hippie for some great local brands. 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.

Around the home

-A Made of Tomorrow 2022 diary, calendar or weekly planner- made from recycled coffee cups

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

-CW Works tomohawk from recycled skateboards

-Seed Slabs - just add water to grow your own edible flowers or cocktail - (note. new range is coming out this week and will be available here. In the meantime, you can still get some here)

-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!

-Handpainted stainless steel tumblers from Dirty Hippie - amazing camping accessory!


-Outliv beautiful recycled fabric bags made with low/zero waste.

-Blunt Umbrella

-Recycled glass earrings from Stonearrow jewellery

(See also 'gifts from the person who has everything' below, and 'experience' and 'homemade' gifts above, for more gift ideas for the big kids.)

-Sharper Thinker DIY Bluetooth Speaker Kit

-Hat from Offcut- they use fabric offcuts to create super cool caps.

-Akau tubes natural moisturiser tubes - this started out as a four girls in a Young Enterprise school Group from Tauranga

-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.

-Subs jandals

-Keep cup

-Pela compostable phone case

-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

-Magazine subscription

-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!

-Splash Bags - waterproof bags made from recycled inflatable toys

-Little Farmer subscription box

-Sharper Thinker make your own wooden marshmellow launcher kit.

-a Therm recycled rainjacket with picktures that appear when it gets wet

-Quiet Book

-Zinc Sticks from Aotearoad

-Seed Slabs - just add water to grow your own pizza, popcorn or butterfly garden (and more) - (note. new range is coming out this week and will be available here. In the meantime, you can still get some here)

-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.

-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 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

-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)

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

-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 - 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

-Something practical! Baby skincare, Baby products or natural baby wipes kit from Green Goddess, a voucher for/ starter pack of Little & Brave compostable nappies.

-a Women's Refuge Safe Night

-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.

-Give a chicken, a big, some honey bees! Yep, you can give all those and much more with Oxfam Unwrapped Gifts or Tearfund Gift for Life.

-Tearfund Gift for Life

-Gift meaningful climate action with Co-Benefits - you can gift 20 trees, make a car climate positive, or make a person climate positive! FInd out how it all works on their website.

-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!).

Image: @dailyflourish

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