So you’ve spent all month prepping your home for an eco-friendly Christmas. You’ve finally gotten your father-in-law to use the compost bin properly, and, following a tense few days and a stern lecture, your niece has agreed to keep her showers down to seven minutes. Stretching yourself thin to create a festive atmosphere has come at an expense – you’ve run out of time to buy gifts for your family. Don’t fret. Even last minute gifts can be environmentally responsible.
Here is our list of some great gift ideas that will spread the Christmas and eco-friendly cheer:
GIVE IN THE NAME OF A LOVED ONE
Everyone has a family member that they can’t seem to buy anything for because they appear to have everything. That person is my father. I’ve spent a fortune on festive ties, paperweights, books and crystal decanters only to see them be put in storage. A few years ago, I started donating the money I would’ve spent on neglected cufflinks. My father so appreciated that I was helping those in need in his name that he encouraged I keep doing it.
Animal shelters and halfway homes always fill up this time of year, and I don’t doubt that they’d appreciate any financial assistance to feed and care for those that need them. When you cultivate a generous spirits, especially during a period when it’s better to give than to receive, you set a precedent people can’t but not follow.
SPONSOR AN EXPERIENCE
In all honesty, I like people giving me things as much as the next person but what I’ve noticed about every Christmas is that I amass so many useless things. Between the advent calendars, the Christmas crackers and the stockings we hang on Christmas Eve, I have 5 horrendous plastic horn blowers, a pair of novelty New Years glasses, a bubble machine, streamers, and a handful of other toys and trinkets I loathe having to get rid of. And this is before I’ve even my actual Christmas presents! Circumvent that waste entirely by purchasing tickets to the theatre show instead.
When you sponsor an experience instead of buying a gift, your loved one will forever associate the memory of eating at their favourite restaurant, thanks to a coupon or gift card, with you. It beats them feeling guilty about throwing out the desk fan you got them when they move house.
GIVE THE GIFT THAT KEEPS ON GIVING
A house without indoor plants is not a house worth living in. Other than improving the quality of your air, and adding a pop of colour to your interior, the benefits of incorporating some foliage into your home are endless.
Get your loved ones anything from a hardy fern tree, or stress-free succulent, to a thirsty bamboo palm. It’ll look pretty, and tending to something to ensure it grows is a great form of therapy.
Put the pasta and the glue away if you’re not a five-year-old, we’re talking about serious stuff here. People always roll their eyes at homemade presents because they often look and feel like a last-minute cop-out. It doesn’t have to be.
If you’re a whizz in the kitchen, whip up a batch of preserves or fill a few jars of your famous butter cookies. Those good with arts and craft can glue together a scrapbook or hammer together an adorable birdhouse. Use your talents to show your loved ones that you care and they won’t notice that their gift doesn’t come with a receipt.
PRO-TIP: RECYCLE WRAPPING PAPER
Am I the only person who is tired of seeing yucky wrapping paper? There are so many environmentally responsible alternatives that make buying that tacky glossy stuff is unnecessary. I’ve taken to wrapping gifts in sheets of newspaper. What makes it really fun is I’ll always pick sheets from my pile with the most scandalous news headlines and see if anyone notices. If the recipients catch on, it becomes a fun game of who can find the most outrageous ‘Tokoloshe Stole my Husband’ type story. If they don’t, at least I can chuckle to my own private joke. And at the end of all the gift unwrapping – bundle up the newspaper and pop it in the fire for some extra kindling.
We’re a week away from Christmas and the festive cheer is getting even cheerier. If you’ve ever had to wade through busy shopping malls to get last-minute gifts for friends and family, you know how frustrating it can be. What are some of your favourite eco-friendly gift ideas that we can run out and get in time for Santa’s housecall?