Worried about the supply chain crisis affecting your holiday gift-giving? Fill your list with these delightful ideas to get you on track for a low-stress and eco-friendly season.
Make Your List
If you are like me, I appreciate a list of ideas to get started as I consider everyone on my gift list. I love to give gifts that are meaningful and appreciated. I think about each person, things we have in common, events and themes that have been important in their lives, what they hold dear, and then consider what a meaningful gift might be. Also, how busy they are, what challenges they are facing, and what things might make their life easier. This helps me make the best possible choice of gift for each person, and not just the popular item of the moment that will get tossed out or stuck in a drawer the next month. And it means they are more likely to enjoy and appreciate the gift for a long time to come.
1) Give an Experience
Experiences can be the best gifts for creating connections and memories that last vs an item which may be enjoyed for a while and, as all physical items do, eventually has to be dealt with when its use is over. Especially for that person who has everything.
Here are some experiences to consider from across the web:
DIY Experience gifts:
Earth 911 shared a helpful list of Eco-Friendly Experience Gifts for the 'Quarantimes' last year which is perfectly timed for this year.
2) Donate in Their Name
Years ago, I was trying to find the perfect gift for my dad but he really had everything he needed and wanted. I finally decided on something that I then made a tradition, I 'bought' an animal in his name through Heifer International that helped a family to make a better living. It was something that kept on giving and made both of us smile. Another year, sometime later, I found out he had inquired about a volunteer role with a veteran's organization. He passed away before he was able to get involved but I knew it was important to him. I connected with a veteran's organization and donated in his name that year.
You can adopt a tiger, elephant, or other animal, complete with the kit at WorldWildlife.org.
Pick a nonprofit with a cause that your loved one is passionate about, whether it is reading, a health cause, the unhoused, or empowerment of women and girls or an infinite number of others. To give it a personal touch, write a nice card along with it sharing why you selected it and the impact it will make in their name that goes far beyond the holiday season.
3) Go Digital
Digital gifts are super easy to purchase and might be just the right fit. You can find something for everyone from the comfort of your computer or phone.
Gift cards are easily available online from an enormous variety of places. Whether it is for a special experience like a National Parks Pass or event, a class, there is something for everyone.
Subscriptions are another awesome way to give a gift and it keeps on giving all year long.
Video games can be purchased to download, even when it might be hard to find the cartridge version. You can download it directly to a gaming system.
Digital Art is a really creative idea that also supports a wide range of artists. You can find digital custom artwork that can be used as a screensaver, background, or framed in a digital display on a wall.
As with the donation gift, you can add a personal touch with a handwritten or even home-crafted card, and even pair it with something to unwrap.
4) Make it Yourself
Almost no gift is more meaningful or special than something you created yourself. If you have a talent or skill, put it to use creating something unique, fun, and creative. There are DIY projects for all skill levels, even for children to make.
Frame a photograph - Make a lasting gift from a beautiful landscape or a moment shared with the person for whom you are creating the gift.
Create a shadowbox - use one or a couple of small items that are meaningful to both of you. It could be a lock of hair, tickets from an event you shared, a wrapper from your favorite shared treat, or a pressed leaf or bits of nature from a special place. Use your imagination.
Write and frame a poem - Make it short and sassy, deep, or clever. Good words written specially for someone else will always be valued.
Write and record a song or even a fun ringtone
Holiday ornament or decor - There are a million ideas for creating adorable and beautiful ornaments, candle holders, holiday hangings, and all kinds of things - Just check out Pinterest or search 'DIY Holiday decor'
Candles - Last year, I made homemade beeswax candles that turned out beautifully and weren't hard at all. I used locally sourced beeswax and natural wicks, and essential oils.
Garden - You can create simple or fanciful container gardens for inside or out. Options include fairy gardens, herb gardens, bulb gardens, and so much more.
Gift Card for your services - Are you particularly handy, creative, or skilled? Give the gift of time for a special project.
Spa Experience - Create a basket of homemade, or local and sustainable items for relaxing like clarifying face mask, candle, a scented sugar scrub, and fresh dried herbal tea.
Knit or Stitch- Know how to knit, crochet, or sew? Hats, scarves, socks, mittens and other comfort wear are always well loved.
Physical gifts can still be the right choice - especially across distance, when there is a real need or use for something, or because of time and other constraints that make giving experiences more challenging. The best thing to do is to stay away from kitchy, of-the-moment items that become trash or a burden occupying a closet a year from now. Think about locally-sourced gifts, hand-made, created with local resources, or upcycled/recycled goods.
Buying local rather than from overseas can mean reducing your carbon footprint, save time, and be a more eco-friendly way to shop and give. If you want to give truly unique gifts with the additional gift of being more gentle to the planet, consider items that are made locally, from sustainable, upcycled and recycled materials.
Here is a list of popular hand-made gift items to get your juices flowing:
5) Shop to Support a Nonprofit
Not only can you give a boost to your local economy, you can also help support important programs provided by local and national nonprofits.
Give a Subscription
Give a fruit and vegetable subscription from an organization like Brightside Produce, which is a nonprofit 501c3. Give the gift of deliciousness and at the same time help provide fresh, healthy produce in food deserts. The proceeds from these home deliveries support increased access to fresh and affordable produce in underserved neighborhoods. They also offer fresh eggs, coffee, and a produce seconds option.
Give to Empower
Breaking Free is a nonprofit providing services and healing for survivors of sex trafficking, moving them from a life of bondage and oppression to one of safety, dignity, and strength. You can find one of a kind jewelry creations, designed by survivors of sex trafficking at the Sisters Shop for Freedom. 100% of every purchase returns to support the woman who made it, helping her to a life of freedom.
We love this option additionally because they are one of Donate Good Stuff's oldest partners. Some of the jewelry the artisans create is reimagined and crafted from broken and vintage pieces that have been donated to Breaking Free.
Support other organizations that combat human trafficking and offer survivor-made goods.
Support a Nonprofit Thrift Store
Flying Pig is an example of a nonprofit thrift that sells items for great causes. This thrift store has an inspired story and profits support multiple other nonprofits so the good keeps rolling. It helps people repurpose things, and it's a fun place to find new treasures. (They also have space where they sell local artist's work)
6) Support Local Artisans
When you know how and where items are crafted, and know you are supporting your local artists and craftspeople, it is a recipe for a meaningful gift. Whether you buy pure art or an artful practical gift, you can't go wrong!
Check out your local seasonal farmer's market, art colony or co-op, vintage, or craft markets. There are lots of options whether you are in the city, like the Minneapolis Craft Market, or in a small town, like Grand Marais Art Colony. (These are just examples of local artisan hubs in Minnesota, my home state.) Just search for one near you - you may discover a hidden gem! If there isn't one nearby, many vendors offer direct, online ordering.
Really. cool. brooms.
I have to add an example of something I've received and loved. I'm totally obsessed with these handcrafted brooms. I have a small collection that reflect unique styles and are for different purposes. They are made from natural materials, which makes me happy. And I use them all. My favorite is a smooth, willow-handled house broom. Despite my usual distain of housework, I find myself sweeping just for enjoyment. They not only work better than other brooms, they are gorgeous works of art. I know people who only display them, and that's just fine. Find them at local retailers in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Utah. More at OxCart Broom and Woodwork.
BONUS: If you are looking for something fun, you can even take a class and learn how to make these! When you give someone the gift of an experience, it goes so much further, especially if you do it together.
7) Buy Nothing New
The New York Times just published a guest essay 'How To Buy Nothing New This Holiday Gifting Season' that is a great short piece that reminds us of why it is so good and important for our planet (and ourselves) to curb our consumerism, and that even a little bit helps. It also has some pretty cool ideas like an alternative White Elephant and a family drop and swap.
Buying vintage or up-cycled items can be a lot of fun. You might come across things that you hadn't even considered!
Junket Tossed & Found
It is hard to find a store more committed to the planet and eco-ethical shopping than Junket: Tossed & Found. As importantly, this is one place you will absolutely enjoy browsing all kinds of eclectic treasures. It's both fun and inspiring to look through the catalog of items from vintage tart pans, to creative papers and one-of-a-kind crafting supplies, hilarious (and not-PG rated) embossed greeting cards, and even digital downloads for fortune cookie you can print at home. Make a personalized crafting kit or find that one unique item for someone special.
8) Buy Ethical and Eco-Friendly
Look for items that are made from sustainable sources, produced in an eco-friendly way, high quality, and can be reused, upcycled, recycled, composted or otherwise not end up in the trash at the end of its useful life. Here is a great article from The Good Trade with 11 Sustainable Marketplaces to shop that are alternatives to Amazon.
Wrap it Up Right!
Every year, 5 million tons of waste is generated over Christmas, equating to 50,000 trees and endless crumpled rolls in the landfills since the shiny, glittery paper cannot be recycled. Fixing the issue is nothing new. We just need to take a moment to think about it and use good alternatives. Here are two ideas of how we can do better inspired by my own family -
My mother-in-law creatively encloses gifts in dish towels and other practical linens. I have always loved this (especially when we were starting out and had next to nothing). It looks cute, is a gift on top of a gift, is thoughtful, and earth-friendly.
My great aunt was a nun in central Minnesota and grew up in the earlier part of the 20th century so she knew how to economize. As a child, I thought she was a bit eccentric as she would gather up all of the wrapping paper, ribbon and bows, at the family holiday celebration and fold everything as if they were rare and precious. She saved all of this and re-used it for wrapping, for tags, for cards, and for crafts. Turned out, she was an eco-warrior. So, when we can't avoid the glitzy stuff, we can take a page from her book and creatively reuse it.
Donate Good Stuff exists to help you find the best home for your donation items and we recognize it's just part of the challenge of having too much stuff. How do you declutter what you have, reduce the amount of stuff you bring into your home, and continue to move toward sustainable and environmentally kind living? We can help with that, too. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, or subscribe to our newsletter for regular tips and creative ideas for managing your stuff, reducing waste, sustainable living, and being part of a connected community.