Christmas is around the corner and it’s easy to feel a lot of pressure to buy the perfect gift during the holiday season.
Let’s face it, Christmas can be suuupper stressful.
AND when you’re trying to be more mindful of your waste and plastic use, it can be even MORE stressful.
I’ve been doing some research (and trial and error!) recently and I’ve found some pretty cool, low-waste, inexpensive gifts for family and friends.
Some of these are more general ideas, others are more specific options. Here are a few questions to ask yourself while Christmas shopping this year:
- Why am I buying this person a gift? Is it out of obligation because they’re more of a distant relative that I’m not super close with, but I’ve gotta show up with SOMETHING for them to unwrap on Christmas? Or is it someone that means a whole lot to me?
- What’s important to that person? What do they value/talk about often?
- What are their hobbies? And what can I give that will be practical?
- Can I make them something?
- What will be something they will actually use?
HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE
Here are a few ideas I’ve come up with…
ONE OF YOUR FAVORITE BOOKS
A GOOD PRESENT FOR: PARENTS, FRIENDS, GRANDPARENTS, SIBLINGS…
I’m not saying to go out and buy a brand-new book (although, you could do that if that’s more up your alley, or better yet, buy one second-hand!). I’m talking about actually giving one of your parents or your best friend a book that’s been super influential to you.
I truly believe a used book is full of magic. Within the pages of that book, someone’s imagination and creative mind is seeped into the fibers of each page. Someone else was wrapped up in the same world you’re reading about… someone else was feeling the same overwhelming excitement you felt as you read those same words. There’s something raw and important about that. There’s some sort of deep connection between people who share a book — I don’t know how to explain it but I swear it’s gotta be true.
Share your favorite books with the people you love! You won’t regret it 🙂
HANDMADE JEWELRY FROM A LOCAL ARTISAN/SMALL BUSINESS
A GOOD PRESENT FOR: MOMS, GRANDMAS, SISTERS, FRIENDS, COWORKERS, RELATIVES….
These earrings are made by my dear friend Maggy and her husband Evens. They run a business called Haitian Shore Beauty and all of their jewelry is made from sea glass from the beaches of Haiti. You can find their Facebook page here.
Check out some small businesses near you that sell artisan-made jewelry. Or check out some fair trade stores like Ten Thousand Villages or Mata Traders for some super trendy, quality jewelry (and other goods!)
MASON JAR CONCOCTIONS
A GOOD PRESENT FOR: PARENTS, GRANDPARENTS, SIBLINGS, COWORKERS, RELATIVES, BOSSES…..
The options are pretty much endless when it comes to packing things into mason jars. The jars are glass, so they can be reused or recycled, and you can really customize these jars to fit whoever you’re shopping for. Remember to buy items in bulk when you can!
You can find lots of different sizes in mason jars, especially at second-hand stores!
Pinterest has more ideas that I could possible fit in one blog post, so check out Pinterest for some specific concoctions. But here are a few ideas….
Hot chocolate mix
Cookie or cake mix
Candy or chocolates (buy bulk!)
Recipes using dried ingredients
Hand soaps (buy a foaming pump and use Castile soap, avocado oil, essential oils and water and you’re all set!)
Homemade face mask/beauty products
Tea (buy loose-leaf and in bulk!)
QUALITY BEAUTY PRODUCTS
A GOOD PRESENT FOR: MOMS, AUNTS, SIBLINGS, COUSINS, FRIENDS, COWORKERS, BOSSES….
Below are some of my favorite companies where you can find quality products with sustainable packaging…
Meow Meow Tweet*
Fat and the Moon
Shea Moisture * (Shea Moisture is black-owned, B-Corp!)
Dr. Bronner’s* (a B-Corp!)
Beautycounter (a B-Corp!) – a little pricey!
Zao Organic Makeup
*available at Target for easy shopping
If you’re looking to purchase some “treat-yo-self”-type gifts…. check out these guys! They offer plenty of face masks and lotions and lip balm! Lots of their items come in sustainable packaging, too!
REUSABLE WATER BOTTLES
A GOOD PRESENT FOR: LITERALLY ANYBODY
One of the easiest steps in limiting your waste is using a reusable water bottle and coffee thermos. Hydro Flask and Klean Kanteen are two top rated brands on the market. They’re meant to last for YEARS. They’re a bit pricey, but totally worth every penny. They come in different colors and sizes, too!
COMPOSTABLE PHONE CASE
A GOOD PRESENT FOR: AGAIN, LITERALLY ANYONE. BUT ESPECIALLY SIBLINGS AND YOUR NIECES AND NEPHEWS
Pela case is a compostable phone case company. I’ve been using my case for months and it’s holding up great! Obviously it’s not going to give the same level of protection as an Otterbox… but I’ve dropped my phone a few times with this case on and my phone doesn’t have a scratch (knock on wood!).
ESSENTIAL OILS + DIFFUSER
A GOOD PRESENT FOR: AGAIN, LITERALLY ANYBODY
I personally use Young Living oils. Just remember, essential oils aren’t the most sustainable product – but they have serious benefits! Use them sparingly and aim to find oils that are made as ethically and sustainably as possible.
HEATING PAD/WARMING PILLOW
A GOOD PRESENT FOR: LITERALLY ANYBODY
My local health food store, the Health Hut, sells these flax seed heating and cooling pads. You either warm them up in the microwave or cool them down in the freezer. They’re made with sustainable cloth and come pre-wrapped. An item like this will last a while and it could be good for your family or friends who often get aches and pains. A standard heating pad is always a good option too!
ADDITIONAL IDEAS FOR ANYBODY
UncommonGoods: This is one of my favorite stores to buy birthday and Christmas gifts. First of all, they’re a B-Corp. Second, they support other smaller businesses who create quirky, nichy items. Third, you can just about guarantee your gift won’t be like anyone else’s 🙂 They have a whole section dedicated to gifts for under $25. And there are options for more expensive gifts you could partner with others to give.
An experience!: Consider buying someone an experience. Date nights, concert tickets, museum memberships, etc. Buying someone an experience doesn’t produce waste, and it’s something they’ll actually enjoy.
Fair trade options: Check out Made Trade and Ten Thousand Villages for some dope fair trade gifts. From jewelry to decor and clothing, they’ve both got awesome options.
Etsy printable: Etsy has some awesome artists that allow you to pay a few bucks to print the picture out yourself! Grab a cheap frame from the thrift store and you’ve got a cheap and unique gift for someone.
For kids: Crayons and coloring materials; wooden toys (check out EarthHero for some dope options!); an experience like a membership to the Children’s Museum; secondhand toys that can be easily sterilized at home.
Sustainable beauty supplies: EarthHero is one of my favorite shops for all things eco-friendly. Check out their items here. Also, they’re a B-Corp – double win! Items like wooden hair brushes, bamboo tooth brushes, organic cotton hair ties, etc….can make great stocking stuffers.
Bamboo or wool socks: Two sustainable options for socks that you can find online on EarthHero, Etsy, Package Free Shop, and others.
BANGS Shoes: This company sells awesome shoes. 20% of the proceeds go to Kiva, a company that invests in entrepreneurs around the world. Instead of giving people free shoes, this company supports the thought that if you give a person a fish, you feed them for a day, but if you teach a person to fish, you feed them for a lifetime. And it’s supporting entrepreneurship and creativity!
Wool scarf: Package Free Shop last year added alpaca wool scarfs to their site and they’re awesome.
Tote bags/reusable bags: Reusable cotton produce bags make awesome gifts. They can be used for, obviously, produce, but they can also store other things too! Or, they’re even cute as a wrapping paper alternative. My friend Agnes from Andinda Design makes all kinds of cool products using second hand cotton! She makes cotton rounds, bento bags, produce bags, pouches and lots more. Check out her Etsy shop here.
Quality blanket: Everybody could use a good blanket! Look for some that are made sustainably or with recycled or eco-friendly materials.
Leaf cuttings: Trim off a few cuttings of your monstera or pothos and stick it in an upcycled jar with some water. It’s a fun little gift to give to someone looking to up their at-home jungle vibes 😉
Loose-leaf tea + strainer: This is definitely a gift I’d LOVE to have. You can find some really great loose-leaf tea at the grocery store — or a local tea shop — and pair it with a strainer. Loose-leaf tea tastes better and it’s much better for the environment!
French press; coffee bean grinder; bamboo or stainless steel straws; to-go cutlery (check out EarthHero!); quality cloth + glasses case for those who wear glasses (anyone else struggle to keep your eye glasses clean!?)….etc.
DIY foaming soap: Buy a foaming pump (unfortunately I got mine off Amazon) and add it to a smaller lid mason jar. Add castile soap, essential oils and some oil of your choice (I like avocado because it’s moisturizing!). Fill it with some water and you’re good to go!
Check out second-hand stores! This might sound like I’m just trying to be cheap, but I’m really not. Second-hand stores can have incredible stuff! I’ve gotten lots of friends and family members gently-used books that look like new! You can find toys and clothes with the tags still on. You can even find some pretty quirky items, too. Stop by your local thrift store and see what you can find 🙂
Note: This story was updated Nov. 2020 with additional information.