Affordable and Sustainable Gift Ideas

The holiday season is often a period of rest, giving, and spending time with family. It can also be a period of indulgence and increased/reckless spending. We all sometimes feel the pressure to buy countless gifts and plan extravagant parties. Thus during this period, being sustainable is usually an afterthought. However, armed with the right amount of sustainable gift ideas, you can celebrate the holidays without having too much of a negative impact on the environment. 

During the holidays, single-use wrapping papers, an excess of gifts (some of which are never used), and the pollution from increased travel all impinge on our ecosystem. Commercial Waste found that we used 227,000 miles of wrapping paper in 2016, which is enough to wrap the entire Island of Jersey. If you lay down all the festive cards we send side-by-side, they would stretch around the world 500 times. 

On top of the environmental impact, this season can also cause financial strain for many. Statistics from Capital Counselor this year alone have shown that 10% of Europeans go into debt during the holiday period, and 41% of Americans willingly take on this debt in order to keep up with the expenses of the season. 

Gift-giving during the holidays is a way to show your friends and family that you love them. However, holiday gifting shouldn’t have to shouldn’t cause us money anxiety or pollute the planet. 

Sustainable Gift Ideas

These sustainable gift ideas are perfect examples of how your gift-giving this holiday period can be eco-friendly, affordable, and filled with love.

The Art of Regifting

Regifting is a delicate art that needs to be well planned and thoughtfully delivered. With so much clutter building in our homes, we often have many potential gifts stored away, not being used. Statistics show that 80% of items we keep are never used, so looking within your home is a good place to start when seeking out sustainable gifts. Jewelry, particularly if it’s vintage, usually has a sentimental, one-of-a-kind value. Kitchen appliances such as blenders, cheese board sets, that you don’t use or don’t have space to store might be well-received by any friends that love to cook or host dinner parties. Re-gifting a book shows you want them to experience something that you already have. It’s thoughtful, simple and always goes down as a winner. If you are finding it difficult to part with any of your belongings, try your local thrift shop. You can find second-hand books, DVDs, homeware, or clothes that won’t cost too much and are still eco-friendly and sustainable gifts.

Get Creative with Homemade Gifts

sustainable gift ideas

Nothing screams considerate and sustainable than a homemade gift. Not only have you given up your time to make them a gift with your hands, but you’ve also put thought into what you think that special someone would like. If you want to make a holiday gift, Pinterest is your friend. Think about what that person needs or wants, whether it be a homemade body scrub, a hanger for a plant pot, or some quirky jewelry. Perhaps you have some picture frames at home that can be filled, or maybe you have some paints lying around and you can make something modern and abstract.

Gift An Experience

Give your loved ones something to look forward to. Whether it be a favorite artist in concert, an art exhibition, a spa day, or even a day trip. These days, experiences and events are often dependent on the Covid restrictions of the city so keep that in mind. 

Donate to Charity in Their Name

Donating to charity on behalf of a friend or family member is a gift of kindness, a thoughtful tribute, and an important act. A good idea amongst a group of friends would be to do a secret Santa raffle, and whoever you get you have to donate to a charity that you think they would like to support or that means something to them. It’s touching, to have your friends choose to donate to a cause you care about and to support that cause in solidarity. It doesn’t have to be a big donation, just enough to show that you care. It’s straightforward, generous, and sustainable.


Other Ways to be Sustainable During the Holidays: 

In recent years, there have been increasing calls for everyone to be more conscious of their waste during the holidays and to have a more sustainable and ‘green’ Christmas.

Christmas Trees

A reusable Christmas tree is often seen as a sustainable alternative to a real Christmas tree but experts are now encouraging celebrators of the holiday to rent a tree instead. Plastic trees often end up in landfills for eternity, and real trees have a hugely negative environmental impact too. Renting a Christmas Tree means you still have it for the big day, but you don’t need to worry about storing it, or disposing of it if you don’t have space or move. 

Sustainable Christmas Meals

There has been a huge boom in vegan or vegetarian Christmas dinners, and celebrity chefs such as Jamie Oliver and Deliciously Ella have made huge ripples in this area to make this style of Christmas dinner more accessible and more appealing. If you still want to stick to a traditional Christmas dinner, try and buy local to avoid pollution from transportation, and be sure to freeze leftovers to avoid any food waste. 

From upcycling to regifting to donating to charity, this holiday season you can do your bank account and the environment a favor as you make an effort to move toward sustainable gifts and a sustainable Christmas. [/vc_column_text]

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Aoife Smith

I would describe myself as a teacher, writer, and reader. I teach English in Madrid, and I have a degree in English Literature and Psychology. I'm currently studying journalism and I write in my spare time about issues stemming from a quarter-life crisis, being on a budget, social observations, the future, food, and literature. You can find me at

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