Sustainable gift-giving for the holidays

Sustainable gift-giving for the holidays

by Amanda Palumbo
Stars & Stripes Europe

There’s always that one person on your list that is impossible to buy for. It’s me. I am that one person. But, what if you could satisfy your desire to give that person something special while also helping the planet?

Sustainable gift-giving is the movement to continue the holiday traditions of swapping gifts but keeping our carbon footprint in mind. It’s giving the gift that keeps on giving...back to the Earth.

Here are some ideas:


Reusable produce bags - They can ditch the lame plastic bag that rips anyway. Several German grocery stores are doing away with these anyway.

Reuseable storage bags - They’ll think of you every time they pack a sandwich for lunch.

Reusable beeswax wraps - Saran wrap never works that well anyway but these things do!

Reuseable bowl covers - Again, my disdain for Saran wrap is cured with these.

Paperless towels - These will save them so much money in the long run.

Unsponges - These honestly clean better than any disposable one. You can also toss them in the dishwasher!

Stainless steel straws - They can bring out their inner-hipster by declining the straw at the restaurant and pull out one of these. There are even adorable straw wraps you can buy.

Reusable Swiffer pads - I’ve been using these for a while and they’re way more absorbent than those thin pads from the store. Just toss them in the wash when you’re done!

Travel utensil wrap - Say goodbye to the neverending search for the plastic silverware that’s never at work. They can eat with real utensils every day and store them in adorable wraps!


Recipe in a jar - Drinks, cookies, soups, jams, jellies! The possibilities are endless. These are a great craft idea to have the kiddos help out.

Paintings - Remember when your parents would put your fingerpainting on the fridge? You can upgrade by making them something to hang on the wall. There are tons of classes and online tutorials. You can even host your own painting party.

Crochet/Knitted goods - If you’ve never crocheted or knitted before, it’s really cathartic. There are tons of east free patterns for both crochet and knitting online!

Handmade ornaments - This is a great option for the kids to make something for their grandparents or aunts and uncles. Here’s a great DIY salt dough ornament how-to that can be painted after they dry.

DIY Terrarium - Make a beautiful display for plants with old photo frames.

Fleece blanket - Way easier than it sounds. Promise. The kiddos can even do this! No sewing required.

Stovetop potpourri - Give the gift of the Christmas scent.


Coupon books - Yes. The old school cheesy coupon books. But if I got one of those offering to do cleaning, laundry or errands it would be gone before March.

Lawn care - These are great for those who don’t have time or may not be able to physically take care of their yard.

Cleaning - Offer to hire a maid service or even create a gift certificate for you to clean their home, car, etc.

Spas - Massages, facials, beauty treatments. Nobody will be upset about that gift.

Babysitting - No parent will turn this gift down. 


Tickets - Treat them to their favorite upcoming concert, ballet or play.

The Great Outdoors - Offer to take them hiking, camping or even better, glamping!

Classes - Have they always wanted to learn how to make their own pasta? Maybe they’ve been dying to learn woodworking. The gift of education is something they won’t forget.


Herb garden starter kits - They’ll never curse the day they ran out of basil.

Scatter gardens - Perfect for the gardener born without a green thumb.  These scatter gardens are exactly what they say, scatter the seeds and let it grow. There are some specifically for honey bees and butterflies.

Adopt an Acre - A great program from The Nature Conservancy. You select one of five vulnerable areas. Your money goes to help protect and restore the area. 

Other ways to be green for Christmas

  • Make your own Christmas cards (Great craft activity with the kids)
  • Avoid gifts that need batteries (Look for rechargeable toys & electronics)
  • Shop second-hand stores
  • Shop local
  • Use old newspapers for gift-wrapping or have your children draw and color on large pieces of paper
  • Save & reuse gift bags and tissue paper
  • Decorate with energy-efficient lights


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