Choose sustainable festive gifts

8 December 2023

3 min read

Our tips can help you choose gifts that are both thoughtful and sustainable for your friends and family this festive season.

If you want to gift sustainably, it’s important to think about what the person you’re gifting to needs, and what they’re likely to actually use rather than throw away or forget about. If you’re not sure what to get them, giving to charity means your gift will always be useful to someone who needs it.

Give handmade or second-hand

Handmade gifts can have a lower impact on the environment than store-bought gifts. And they often have little imperfections which you won’t get from a factory-made item, but you may find charming.

Here are our tips on giving sustainable gifts – whether you’re making them yourself or you want to buy them.

Make your own gifts

Making gifts by hand can allow you to really personalise them to the tastes of your loved ones, and to use sustainable materials or upcycle unwanted items. There are so many different things you could make – some may require some equipment, but many are quite cheap to make and simpler than you might think.

For example, you could try:

  • Making cards – you can include personalised images and messages, and get creative with the materials you use
  • Preparing food – most people would prefer things that keep for longer, such as jams, flavoured oils, smoked foods or long-lasting biscuits or cakes
  • Preparing drinks – such as infusing alcohols or making your own teabags
  • Making candles – you’ll need a wick and something to keep it running straight through the middle while the wax sets, and you can speckle it with pieces of dried fruits or flowers
  • Making festive decorations – such as baubles, wreaths, garlands or table coverings
  • Making other home gifts – such as bookmarks, flower pot covers, hanging plant holders or soap.

Buy handmade or second hand gifts

If you don’t have the time, skills or tools to make gifts yourself, buying handmade gifts can be a lovely way to offer unique items and support independent businesses. Or buying second hand can give discarded items a new lease of life. You could buy any of the above gifts, or items that are more difficult to make yourself. If buying online, you can sometimes ask for items to be personalised with engravings or prints.

For example, you could look for:

  • Decorations – such as embroidery, models or statues
  • Furniture – such as clocks, stools or side tables
  • Clothing – such as knitwear, jewellery or shoes
  • Glassware and pottery – such as mugs, plates or vases.

Give your time

We can all feel under pressure to buy gifts, especially at this time of year. But offering someone your time can feel more personal than simply buying something, can avoid adding clutter to their home, and can give them something to look forward to.

Here are some things you can offer:

  • Cooking a special meal for them or cooking together
  • Visiting a place you’ve not been together before
  • Spending quality time together (like having a movie night or going for a picnic)
  • Teaching them a skill they’ve been wanting to learn (like painting or baking)
  • Doing a project for them (like framing photos or redecorating).

Give to charity

There are so many worthy causes that would benefit from donations. And many of them need more help during the winter months. If the person you’re gifting for is someone who seems to have everything they need, they may be happy knowing that you’ve supported others in their name without expecting anything in return. And donating your items, or buying second hand has the added benefit of extending the life of products which may have otherwise gone to waste.

Some ways you can help a charity in someone’s name this gifting season include:

  • Buying a gift from a charity’s website or shop – for example, you can find lovely gifts at Oxfam’s online shop and Amnesty International’s online shop
  • Buying a charity gift card – Oxfam sells beautiful gift cards online
  • Buying a donation parcel – Centrepoint and Refuge sell parcel packages online
  • Making a donation of food and drink, clothing, other essentials or presents
  • Making a one-off donation or setting up a regular donation of money.

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