As part of our ongoing series we are looking at different elements of the Christmas season and giving you hints and tips for how to make it greener and more environmentally friendly. With everyone telling us just how few shopping days there are left til Christmas Day, here are our suggestions for how to make gift giving simplier, more environmentally friendly and possibly even less stressful as well!
Less Really Is More: Forego an excess of "stuff" that will end up in the tip by July and make every gift count by purchasing things with value, purpose and meaning.
Choose Sustainable Materials: Organic cotton, hemp, silk, wood...all are natural, renewable materials. They add texture and character to gifts. And they support sustainable farmers.
Shop Locally-Owned: Support your community and local economy by shopping small local independent stores - they'll often stock locally produced items and/or ethically sourced and you're sure to find something more individual and unique
Sustainable Wrapping Paper: Ditch the rolls of wrapping paper and avoid glossy or metallic gift wrap. Instead, think of using plain brown paper, hand stamped with christmas theme images (there are plenty of sites that offer guides on how to do this). Or wrap the presents in material that can be reused for years - maybe even use a scarf and make the wrap part of the gift as well. Use the greeting cards received last year or any other recycled material to make gift tags.
Don't give stuff at all - give an experience - a day out, tickets to the theatre. This doesn't have to be expensive either - you could make up a pack of vouchers offering your time or your services - for a massage or facial, baby sitting services, cooking a special meal, offering to do a chore you know the recipient hates - use your imagination.
Give money to a local charity, sponsor a child overseas or help impoverished women start a small business all in the name of your loved ones.
Make It Fun and Easy: Decrease spending, stress and waste by having family members draw names and sticking to a 'one gift' rule. This allows each person to get one especially thoughtful and unique gift from someone who had the time to dedicate their effort.
Or do a White Elephant gift exchange: everyone only gives gifts they find around their home with no money spent.
Handmade Gift Exchange: Only handmade gifts (from hand-knit scarves to cookies) may be given.
Or a Secret Santa, but all the gifts must come from the charity shop.
Hopefully some of these ideas will have inspired you to think differently about gift giving this year. If you have other ideas, share them with us on social media or by messaging us through the contact form and we'll be sure to spread the word.