A Guide To Finding Sustainable Christmas Gifts

If you’re here, kudos to you for looking to spread the joy this holiday season with sustainable Christmas gifts!

It’s that time of year again when you’re wandering what to get your loved ones for Christmas without a) breaking the bank, and b) buying things they don’t need. Finding the perfect gift for someone is tricky business. Especially in today’s society where we want to do better by not going overboard, yet are still being pushed to buy earth-destroying toys, gadgets, devices, clothing and skincare.

Christmas time is the worst time of year for the Earth in terms of having to put up with extra pollution from mass manufacturing and dealing with an ungodly amount of waste being dumped. Buying excess food, throwing away all the non-recyclable wrapping paper, cards and batteries as well as refreshing wardrobes contribute to December and January being a terrible couple of months for the eco-system.

table of extra waste created through christmas gifts
extra waste per household over the Christmas period (and this is only counting the UK!) https://commercialwaste.trade/the-true-cost-of-christmas/

We are better than that. There are other ways of doing Christmas and that can start with buying better gifts.

Personalised Experiences

Ok, this is one of my favourite gifts to receive and give others. There is no limit to what voucher you can give other people nowadays! And you can choose your budget, no need to get something fancy if that’s not possible for you.

My mum got me a general experience voucher that I can use for any number of cool adventure stuff in New Zealand, and I cannot wait to cash it in. I have given my mum a massage gift voucher which went down very well, and my bestie a vegan high tea for 2 voucher. There are so many cool things to experience, and to offer someone the chance to do it is an amazing gift in my opinion.

Sustainable christmas gift idea - experience voucher
a great opportunity awaiting me with this gift

Experience vouchers include, but are certainly not limited to: high teas, dinner reservations, spa days, activities such as skydiving, ziplining or bungee jumping, tours, dance classes, pottery making, boat rides, wine tasting, flights, race car driving.

There are plenty of websites that act as directories for buying these kind of experiences for others, so you’re sure to find something for all the family in one place! I’ve searched a little for a few companies in different countries (see below). Another way of finding that perfect gift voucher for a loved one is looking up somewhere they spend a lot of money/want to visit/you think they’d love and look for a gift voucher option on that website. Easy, fun, sustainable Christmas gifts.

NZ: Chuffed
Australia: Experience Oz
UK: Buy A Gift
USA: Great American Days
Global: Gifting Owl

Handmade Magic

Feeling crafty this month? Why not give handmade gifts a try and see what you’re capable of?

This type of gift-giving won’t be for everyone. But if you have some skills and knowledge in certain areas e.g. herbal teas, baking, painting, pottery, then you could come up with unique and personalised Christmas presents for your friends and family. Times are changing and it’s not all about getting the latest gadgets on the market. People recognize the need to buy sustainably and handmade gifts are going down better than ever.

You don’t even need to make everything yourself but just replacing one thing you’d otherwise buy would be helpful to the environment – like cards and name tags!

In 2020 and 2021, I made little name letter decoration tags out of clay to give to people on their present. It was practical (to identify their gift), they could hang it on their Christmas tree after so it was like a present in itself, and it gave me some joy to make knowing it would add that special touch. It wasn’t perfect but it was personal.

handmade christmas card - watercolour of a cat in santa hat
my attempt at a handmade christmas card a few years ago (it’s ok to laugh!)

Secondhand Treasures

A few years ago, it might not have been socially acceptable to buy Christmas presents from charity shops. But that has all changed now. Anyone who wants to support the Earth and the climate can proudly walk into secondhand shops to find treasures for their loved ones. If you know your friend or family member’s tastes then you can find just about anything that they might like in one of these stores (providing you live in an area with charity shops, of course).

And, something else to consider is gifts you’ve received in previous years yet haven’t used. Can you pay that forward to someone who might enjoy it? For example, two years ago I got some hand creams/body lotions from people and I knew I would never get round to using; so last year I gave them as part of a gift to friends who I thought might like them.

These easy two options are a budget-friendly way of shopping this holiday season. And it really is the thought that counts. Let’s not put pressure on ourselves to find perfect, expensive, gifts. Let’s have fun with it and remember that the people who love us will feel grateful opening a parcel wherever it came from.

Christmas Market

The atmosphere in a Christmas markets is just something else, isn’t it? If there is a festive market near you this month, or in December, then it’s probably a great idea to visit and take a look at what they have to offer.

The market stalls are usually filled with handmade goodness, thus sustainable Christmas gifts. You can be sure you’re buying something one of a kind whilst supporting another individual and their family. In the spirit of giving, it’s important to remember the ways we can help others by going to these little (or large) festive events instead of rushing to the big corporate shops in the mall to buy everything.

From jams to earrings, pottery to slippers, paintings to baked goods; there’s usually something for everyone at a local Christmas market – so don’t forget to find out the date of one near you and go wandering!

sustainable christmas gifts in local markets in the background. foreground is a olaf statue - at london winter wonderland
winter wonderland christmas market,
London 2016

Small Businesses

Whether you find a local small business in your town, or find one online that sells ethically and beautifully made things, this is an important f-you to corporate giants, and a win for the Earth. It’s also a supportive move in a society that always puts each other down.

Since I’ve started buying from small businesses and individuals, I’ve smiled a lot more when opening/using the product. There is so much thought, care and love that goes into every detail and it really is heart-warming shopping this way.

It’s worth mentioning that supporting a small business in your town/city would be ideal, since there are shipping emissions to take into consideration if you’re ordering from lots of different online shops. Saying that, many small businesses on the internet have sustainable practices in place and you may find many are carbon neutral now – which means they offset the emissions they make sending out their goods in the mail/the resources they use. This could be through planting trees or investing in green equipment and renewable energy sources.

A guide to finding sustainable christmas gifts pinterest

Lets give the planet a Christmas gift this year, and every year on, by doing our best to avoid supporting big companies and manufacturing stuff we don’t need.

What’s your favourite way to shop with the Earth in mind? Will you be buying sustainable Christmas gifts this year?

Until Next Time,


18 responses to “A Guide To Finding Sustainable Christmas Gifts”

  1. These are some great tips to help find sustainable products for Christmas gifts. I am going to Bournemouth markets this weekend to have a look for Christmas gifts. Thank you for sharing your suggestions.


    1. Aww lovely! I hope you have a successful time getting handmade gifts x

  2. Your handmade card is amazing! I am not very talented with drawing but I could get into better practice with it as I think gifts like this are so lovely (and so meaningful). Great ideas all round for being more environmentally aware at this time of year!

    1. Haha thank you, you’re too kind! Exactly, you’d only get better over the years 🙂 x

  3. These are amazing, going to the Christmas market is going to help to get things cheaper. The handmade is great and it has more meaning to it.

    1. Yes, for sure! And it’s a fun experience too. Thanks for reading 🙂

  4. This is a great list – I love buying from local markets and shops and the past 2 years we’ve actually only given gift baskets to loved ones with our favourites from around town! Thanks for sharing!
    Alexhttps://simplyalexjean.com | https://chronicallyalexjean.com

    1. Aww that’s a really sweet idea, full of care and attention, love it!!x

  5. I love posts such as this that remind us all of some great environmentally friendly gift ideas. I have made several changes in the past few years to minimize my Christmas footprint. It’s too important a topic not to be discussed.

    1. Thanks Jodie. I completely agree!x

  6. I love this post so much! Great ideas and resources for people like me who want to gift sustainably but are not sure how to.

    1. Thank you – I’m glad it’s a helpful post for you!

  7. I love gifting experiences myself too! This year I’m treating my family to the Lion King West End show which will be fab.

    1. Aww that’s such a good idea, what a treat 😊

  8. I’m always looking for ways to be sustainable. My partner and I used to reuse gift bags between the two of us, but now we’re giving furoshiki (fabric gift wrapping) a try, using upcycled scraps of fabric. Thanks for suggesting other ideas I could try

    1. Love that! Good on you two – wrapping paper is so wasteful 🙁

  9. I love this list! I’ve always wanted to receive an experience gift as it forces me to get out of my comfort zone. Secondhand and handmade gifts are always great too 🙂

    1. True that! And it can just be something random that you wouldn’t have thought of yourself 🙂

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