(ENG only) Christmas is probably the most wonderful time of the year. The twinkle lights, the ginger bread men, the smell of cinnamon and mulled wine, the Xmas songs softly playing in the background, the fact that everyone seem happier. Unfortunately this also happens to be the most unethical and unsustainable time of the year, when it is relatively easy to feel overwhelmed by the whole mass consumption extravaganza and shop-’till-you-drop rituals. And as someone who has worked in retail and online retail for years and years, I know what I’m talking about.
During the years, I started to shift from the whole gift giving madness to being more focused on spending time with people, enjoying good food and having a good time. With my partner and some of my friends, we decided over the years to give up on gift giving during this time of year and give ourselves instead the gift of spending quality time together. Otherwise, we simply try to throw into the mix something that we made ourselves.
I always try to encourage to be less attracted by mindless consumption and be more conscious instead, especially during this time of year. But if you are looking for some great gift ideas for your loved ones, I’ve put together a small gift guide that will help you make your gift giving more minimalist, ethical and sustainable.
- reusable water bottle. Since I bought mine in early 2016, I almost never leave my house without it. This is such an easy way to be less wasteful and kinder to the planet, and save some money too in the long run. Plastic bottles are one of the main sources of plastic pollution. A water bottle is a great gift idea that won’t break your wallet and will certainly be useful for the person that receives it. Plus, there are so many options available! I recommend stainless steel because this is a very lightweight, easy to clean and very long-lasting material. Bottles come in a plethora of sizes and colors, and surely there is the perfect one for your dear ones too. My own bottle is from Eco Brotbox, but have heard amazing things about Klean Kanteen and 24 Bottles (babe happens to be in need of a new one, so he asked me to buy him one as a xmas gift this year. I’ll definitely pick one from one of these brands). Otherwise, if you prefer glass, you can check Soul Bottles (made ethically and emissions-free in Berlin and many beautiful designs available).
- homemade treats. This time of the year is a lot about gatherings with special people accompanied by delicious food. An easy way to show someone you love them is to bake something yourself. All you need is your favorite recipes, the required ingredients, some good music in the background and some free time. You can find some creative ways to “wrap” your present, using some glass containers you have already, some brown paper and yarn or cute cloth napkins to wrap everything up. However, if you don’t feel like baking something yourself, gifting edibles is always a great idea: special seasonal chocolates or truffles, some good wine, you can even put together a little food gift basket and personalize it.
- Everlane ReNew Fleece Sweatshirt. This incredibly warm and cozy sweater is entirely made of discarded plastic bottles, 35 to be exact. Recycling plastic bottles to make garments out of them reduces the CO2 emissions and the use of resources during the production cycle, cleans up the planet a bit and turns something polluting and toxic for the oceans and its wildlife like plastic bottles into a basic but stylish piece of garment like a cozy winter sweatshirt. Plus, it is fairly produced. What’s not to like about that? 🙂 (available in different colors)
- second hand books. I’ve always been a fan of books as a gift. While walking into a book shop and checking the best seller section is an easy and fast way of getting the job one, the second hand market has plenty to offer too. You can find some treasures in second hand book shops or flea markets, you can look up online if you’re looking for something specific, or you can give as a gift your own copy of your favorite book and maybe highlight your favorite parts and add some notes (currently rewatching for the millionth time “Gilmore girls” and I love the fact that Jess leaves Rory some notes on her book when he borrowed it). Or you can simply organize a little “secret” book swap with your friends and each one of you can bring a book that already has at home, wrap it up and swap it.
- donation to charity or to an organization that works for a good cause. Last year my friend N. decided to use the money that she would have spent for the gift for me and our group of friends to give them to a charity organization that helps refugees. She gave us a handwritten letter explaining us why she wanted to do this and gave us a flyer with some additional info about the organization she gave her money to. I think this was a brilliant idea and I have appreciated so much knowing that the money that was destined to a potential gift for me was instead given to someone in need. Just find the cause that is closer to your heart and make a donation to support it.
- tickets for a concert, an event, a movie, a theater show, a short getaway. Experiences are way more exciting, enriching, fulfilling than any other material item that you could possibly buy. Having the chance to share an experience with someone you love is even better.
- basic underwear. Now, everyone needs and uses underwear. If you know something about sizes and shop comfortably for garments for others, you can buy some undies, socks or basic t-shirts for your dear ones. Going basic and neutral is always a good choice. As you probably know already, my personal recommendation in these past few months has been Organic Basics, which ethically produces underwear and basic t-shirts out of sustainable fabrics, at reasonable prices. They even offer special Xmas gift packs (you can separate the content of the set if you feel like and give presents to multiple people out of it too) and they’ve recently released an activewear line (made of recycled nylon), so you have options for the sporty persons too. You can even take advantage of a 20% discount off your first order using the code SIMPLICITYXOB20 .
- package free/plastic free organic, natural soaps. I usually love the idea of giving consumables as a gift, and soaps are one of them. They can be found quite easily even in drugstores or whole foods stores nowadays and/or online, both from local businesses or bigger brands. You can choose the fragrance that would suit the recipient the most or, when in doubt, opt for a scent free option (usually natural soaps with olive oil are scent free or very naturally mild scented, and work perfectly as a very nourishing soap even for the most sensitive skin types). You can also opt for other plastic free beauty products (if you have a Lush near you, you can find plenty of natural, cruelty free cosmetics that come either package free or in returnable/reusable containers).
- lunch box. Giving to someone we love a reusable food container can be beneficial in so many ways! It helps them to reduce their waste, it encourages them to prep more their own meals and snacks and bring them to work/school/gym/on the go, maybe avoid more the processed foods and opt for something healthier and home made, and it makes them save money in the long run because they will hopefully depend less on take away stuff and eating out. Like for water bottles, there is plenty of choice when it comes to reusable lunch containers, different sizes (tiffins, sandwich boxes, thermal food/drink containers, leak proof containers, etc.) materials (glass, bamboo, stainless steel, silicone…) and designs, therefore also different price ranges depending on how much you are willing to spend.
- a gift card. For my last birthday, I received a gift card from babe for Veganz, a supermarket for vegan products in which I like going but don’t go to on a regal basis because it is a bit pricey. I found the idea great and certainly got a great use out of that gift card because a) he basically gave me money to spend so I didn’t need to spend mine b) it is not an actual thing but something that allows me to buy edibles and consumables c) I was able to buy products I normally don’t get (like tempeh, which is crazy expensive here) and treat myself and d) I could pick whatever I wanted and especially needed. Find a store that person normally goes to or needs something from and give them a gift card so they’ll able to choose something themselves. Grocery shops, thrift stores, Etsy, clothing shops, ticket shops… you name it! It is also a great last minute idea (you can buy them anywhere online, basically every store has one!), not only for Christmas but also on other occasions. Plus, they can usually be redeemed within at least 1 year, so certainly this gives to the recipient enough time to use that money wisely and get themself something they actually need and like.
I hope that you’ll find this little gift guide helpful! Happy holidays and stay conscious! 😉