“It’s not how much we give,” said Mother Teresa, “but how much love we put into giving.” Here are our tips for simple ways to get maximum enjoyment out of Christmas, with minimal consumerist stress.
The last thing any of us needs is more stuff that we don’t love and won’t use. Most of us have been on the receiving end of a gift that wasn’t something we really wanted or needed. Knick-knacks gathering dust on a shelf or a piece of fast fashion that fell apart on the third wash.
“Giving a gift that recipients really want means it is less likely to be binned, preventing the resources like energy and water that went into making it from going to waste. Make sure gifts are durable and they will last even longer.” ~ Planet Ark
At Good On You, we’re inviting you to give mindfully, whether it’s buying a voucher for your loved one from an ethical brand, or one of the ideas below.
Rather than buying cheap stocking fillers that will be lost/broken/forgotten within a month, why not give someone a memory they’ll never forget? Whether it’s organising a skydiving trip, a paddleboard outing, or planning a family bushwalk, it’s often the gift of your time and company that your loved ones will remember.
Tinggly is a worldwide experience gift giver. Why not buy a gift box, which allows an individual to select one of the many experiences available on their website. The experiences span worldwide and the user has two years to select an experience – especially perfect for those who love to travel! There are also experience giving companies popping up from country to country. Try Red Balloon for Australia, Great American Days for the U.S or Truly Experiences for the U.K.
Classes are also a growing trend in gift giving recently! People often forget to give time to themselves, so why not do it for them? Whether it’s cooking, pottery, yoga or beer crafting, there’s never any harm in learning a new skill. Classes are also a fun way to learn and a great place to meet people.
Give gifts that grow
A potted herb garden or a bright sunflower will give ongoing joy and beauty. And it will negate all those greenhouse gasses produced by some of the gifts you could’ve bought. You could also make it more personalised by building your own terrarium! According to research commissioned by Planet Ark, interacting with plants can make people happier, healthier, brighter and calmer!
Give your time
Consider giving the gift of a donation to a charitable cause, or even participating in one yourself. As a gift to an animal lover, why not sponsor an animal on their behalf? There are countless charities that offer this, from farm animals and domestic pets that need some love to endangered species.
Why not give a gift that turns someone’s lifestyle choices for the better? There are many sustainable and environmentally focused products out there which work great for presents. KeepCups are great for coffee lovers, beeswax food wraps for anyone who has a kitchen with food in it, or for our Australian and New Zealand readers, a Toothcrush subscription.
Think about the number of trees, dyes, and chemicals that get put into making cards and gift wrap each year. Then think about how much of that is put into landfill. Seems like a waste of energy right? Here are a few ideas to reduce your impact.
Wrap in cloth
Why not wrap your gifts in something that is also, well… a gift? Grab some vintage scarves from an op shop, or “wrap” your gifts in a reusable tote bag. This is by far the most sustainable way of wrapping and as a bonus will make your gifts shine with individuality. Our friends at Baggu have some great tips on how to use their bags for wrapping. Or, learn the art of Furoshiki – Japanese fabric wrapping. All you need is a piece of fabric and you can wrap gifts of all shapes and sizes.
Re-use and recycle
Can’t avoid the paper? Try opting for a reusable bag where possible. They will last for many more Christmas’ than flimsy paper. Recycled newspapers are also a unique wrapping material. Lastly, try to refrain from releasing the inner animal when present opening – the earth does not benefit from us shredding our wrapping to pieces! Instead be delicate and keep those pieces in good nick to be used again next year. This also goes for any ribbons and cards!
Rather than spending money on loads of generic decorations, consider making your own personalised ones. These can also be lovely gifts, and making them is a fun way to entertain the kids or bond with family during the holidays. Here are a few of our favourite ideas from around the internet, but feel free to share some of your own!
Make your own wreath
Wreaths are a simple, traditional decoration that are so easy to create yourself! Unlike a plastic wreath, a real one can be much more minimal and authentic. Personalise your wreath by picking a leaf type that flows with your home decor. You can also add berries or flowers for a pop of colour. Rosemary, bay leaves or baby eucalyptus could also go down a treat, but here’s your chance to be creative! Go for a wander around your neighbourhood and see what natural fauna grows in the area for some inspiration.
The Christmas tree debate seems to come around every year. If one thing is clear, it’s that neither option is an outstanding winner. So why not go treeless? Plastic trees are usually made out of Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) plastic and other chemicals that are harmful to the environment. ZME Science writes that regarding energy usage, a PVC tree needs to be used for 20 years before it’s energy usage meets that of a real tree. Real trees, however, would provide a much larger benefit being left in the ground.
Instead, go on the hunt for a fallen branch from a park nearby and adorn it with some LED lights. You could also use a pot plant you may already have in your home. Or, design a wall piece out of leaves and branches and set your presents underneath. These options won’t take hours to set up/take down, will be kinder to your wallet, and mostly, a lot more beneficial for the environment.
Create gorgeous candle holders
These cute, unique citrus candles will look sensational and smell divine. Choose from oranges, limes or lemons. The best part is you can blend the leftovers into a nice cold pitcher of OJ! Perfect for decor or gift giving.
Add a touch of green
Sometimes, all you need is a small touch of green. Rather than going all out with tacky tinsel or over-the-top splashes of colour, why not sneak in some nature instead. A branch here or there to hang some knitted stockings, or a string of pine cones can really bring a modern, minimalist feel to your Christmas decor.
Craft from the heart
I used to love making Julehjerter, or Danish woven heart baskets as a kid – so easy and fun! Hang them on the tree, hide little presents in them, use them as envelopes. Pro-tip: recycle cards or gift wrap from previous years to make these decorations truly unique and sustainable.
The holiday season can often go hand in hand with travel season – all that time off should be used to relax! If you’re planning on skipping the country this Christmas, don’t forget to travel sustainably where possible. Here are some tips on how.
The ethos of minimalism is all about simplicity and need-based possessions. Taking the time to think of a meaningful gift or even craft it ourselves is a wonderful opportunity. It allows us to reflect on our loved ones and give a gift that truly means something.
Editor’s note: Original article bypublished updated by Kendall Benton-Collins.