We all want to make someones year with the perfect gift this Christmas but in doing this we often lose sight of how such a lovely gesture can sometimes have a negative impact on the planet. This year, why not try out some of these great ideas that will leave you friends, family and co-workers feeling loved, while still looking out for the environment, not just during the festive season, but all year round.
Take a trip to your local craft fair, not only will you be supporting local businesses but you will reduce the number of miles the products travel. Beautiful bespoke jewellery, cushions and lamp covers are just a few examples of the sort of things you may be able to find. No more machine-tooled mass production gifts for you and your loved ones. Who knows, you may even be inspired to get crafting and start your own side hustle.
If you don't have time to head out to a market you can also shop with small business online. We love these delicate handmade pieces by small business Jack and Freda.
Christmas cake can be made 4-5 weeks in advance and fed, (rum, brandy or whisky) to make it extra moist and delicious. Now is the perfect time to get started on the cake and designing a stunning snow scene to decorate it. If a loved one is planning a big Christmas meal, taking care of this detail can be a real help. Let your recipient know in advance so they don’t have to shop for one. Need a Christmas Cake recipe? We have got that covered.
If you fancy a crisp autumn day out in the countryside, sloes can be foraged for sloe gin. This is made and decanted into attractive bottles and decorated with a ribbon. It can then be enjoyed during festive celebrations, given as a gift or even used in exciting cocktails.
If you can get hold of one, quince vodka is a delicious and unusual alternative. Extremely fragrant, quinces were often used to scent clothes in days gone by.
For the non-drinkers amongst us, handmade Christmas chocolates or biscuits artfully presented make a lovely gift.
Buy it once
“They don’t make things like they used to”. In today’s throwaway society, products often seem to have a short lifespan before they break or need replacing. The name for this is planned obsolescence. It means manufacturers can sell us more things.
There is a growing movement away from this rampant consumerism and towards buying quality products that last a lifetime. One website that caters for this is Buy Me Once. They stock sustainable and long lasting products that have been tried and tested. You can search them for a large variety of gifts, including electrical items.
Alongside this, if you are seriously pleased with the lifespan of something you have bought elsewhere, they even have a forum for contacting them to make suggestions for new long lasting products.
Thinking of buying gifts made of plastic? Why not have a think about whether that gift would be just as good if it was made from an alternative material. For example, a quick google search for wooden toys for children will come up with a wide variety of stunning toys that are even stronger, longer-lasting and more attractive than the plastic versions. This concept can be applied to many other things you may be planning to buy.
This can also apply to clothing gifts as many of our modern clothes contain polyester, nylon, acrylics or other 'hidden' plastics. Once disposed of these do not biodegrade and when they do break down they release microfibres into the environment. Instead look out for clothes and shoes made of natural biodegradable fibres. Businesses like Celtic and Co. stock a wide range of stunning garments in natural wool, sheepskin, leather, linen, cotton and waxed cotton.
Discuss with your family and make a pact to do a family Secret Santa. Instead of buying everyone lots of little gifts each person buys one family member a single larger gift. This means you can save up to get a loved one something really special that they will keep forever.
Apps such as Santa’s secret Keeper can even do the organising for you. This means it’s great fun for all the family and no one is left out when you try to guess who bought what on Christmas Day.
All the trimmings
Aside from the gifts, there is a myriad of other disposable bits and pieces associated with Christmas. Here are a few ideas to help us with the three R’s Reduce, Re-use and Recycle.
Replace wrapping paper with brown paper, it’s cheaper and doesn't have polluting dyes and glitter. Decorate with ribbons or string which you can salvage from packaging earlier in the year. Try foraging for holly or pine cones or try some calligraphy for the name tags. You can even buy reusable wraps available which can be retrieved and kept for next year!
Try your hand at some homemade crackers, they may not make quite such a loud bang as bought ones but you will get just as much satisfaction from them. You can fill them with treats or things to keep rather than the (often plastic) trinkets that are normally found within shop bought crackers.
Cards are a lovely and traditional part of Christmas but with the advent of email and instant messaging are becoming increasingly redundant. If you aren’t going in for cards this year how about sending everyone a festive electronic greeting and donating the money you would have spent on cards and stamps to a charity of your choice instead?