Sustainable Holiday & Gift Guide:

Hello, this year I wanted to do something fun & helpful, by creating a sustainable gift guide! I’m really excited for this post & looking forward to what I come up with. If you have anything to add, please feel free to comment down below! 🙂

In addition to gifts, I will also be adding in some other ways you can make the holiday season more sustainable!

Photo by Element5 Digital on

I’m going to start off with some facts about gifts:

  • $15.2 billion is spent every year on unwanted Christmas gifts.. of this number, 31% keep the gift out of guilt, letting it clutter their home, 31% give it to someone else, 20% exchange the gift, & 4% throw it away, with some sources saying up to 10% get thrown. (I’m not listing all of the different options.) That means at least 608 million dollars are thrown away annually & all of those items end up in landfill.
  • 61% of Americans surveyed admit to getting at least one unwanted gift over the holidays, totaling roughly 154 million American adults.

So here is how we all can do our best to avoid this situation:

General Ideas to Make Your Gifts More Sustainable:

  • Shop local & small. Obviously, the shorter distance an item had to travel to get to you, the better it is for the planet. During Covid especially, small businesses need our support. I know in my town, there are a lot of cute boutiques/shops downtown.
  • Avoid gag gifts & joke wrapping. Sure they’re funny for a couple minutes when the person first gets the item, but then what about after that? If it’s a gag gift or a joke, they probably won’t use it after those few moments of laughter. Meaning it will most likely end up in being thrown away. As for joke wrapping, using one box after another & wrapping or taping things obnoxiously, it can be funny for a few minutes, but in the end, it ends up being super wasteful.
  • Do not give pets as gifts… they are a huge responsibility. Unless the person has asked multiple times for the animal & has shown how they are capable of taking care of it, then don’t do it. Don’t assume someone wants a dog because they mentioned it one or two times in front of you, there is a reason why they haven’t gotten one yet. You need to keep in mind the additional financial burden you are putting on the gift receiver. The cost of food, toys, vet bills, not to mention cleaning up after them, etc.
  • You don’t need to buy an entire gift set. Often in a set of things, you end up not using one or two of the items. So rather than buying a person a whole entire bath set, just buy them a single bar soap & bath bomb.
  • Second-hand gifts. This can be something you already have that you know they’ll love or buying it second hand online, at a thrift store, at an estate sale, etc.
  • Finally, make sure it is something person will actually use (& can use year round), not just something you think they will use, you need to be certain. I know people are worried about “ruining the surprise” but I’m sure the gift receiver would rather receive something they love because you made sure of it than something they don’t like and now have to deal with the guilt/hassle of keeping it or getting rid of it.

Sustainable Gift Ideas:

  • Soy candles in a glass jar (Be mindful of the scents the gift receiver likes or if they have kids or pets). Often, you can find someone who makes & sells these locally.
  • Gift certificates or gift cards to their fav place(s)! -Or for them to get a massage or their nails done or something, if they like things like that.
  • Ethical chocolate/sweets –Beyond Good Chocolate, Alter Eco Chocolate, & Smart Sweets.
  • Lush bath & body products -They have wonderful festive products!
  • A Plant if they love plants.
  • Useful things for their pet, like treats or toys you know they’ll love.
  • Books from ThriftBooks -If the person likes reading.
  • If you are planning to gift your child or spouse a more expensive tech item, like a phone or laptop, I highly recommend using Back Market! -They sell great refurbished tech items.
  • Anything they’ll use over & over and have asked for, like maybe they really want a clothes drying rack or an air fryer.

Ways to Have a Sustainable Holiday Season Overall:

  • Reuse Holiday cards people mail you as gift tags. You can cut out a tree on the front of it or the word joy, or whatever is on the front of it, punch a hole in it & tie a string through! BAM a new gift tag you can write your to/from on!
  • Plant based meals, this works for any time of year, but you can try to focus your food not on meat/animal products.
  • Use paper & string for wrapping. You can try to reuse your paper bags by turning them inside out, or reuse boxes you’ve saved, or reuse gift bags from previous years, or buy paper gift wrap instead, or skip the gift wrap & just tie a bow on it; the options are endless.
  • You don’t need any more décor, if you really do, there is a ton at the thrift store & in your mom’s basement.

Remember the classic phrase: 1. REDUCE 2. REUSE 3. RECYCLE. Try to focus on the first two the most.

Overall, if you’re not sure, just ask the person! They will appreciate it more than getting a gift they don’t like! 🙂

I hope you all have a great holiday season!


Here is another post I made that will be helpful during the gift giving season as well: How to Deal With People Giving You Gifts as a Minimalist.

My Links:

  • ThriftBooks -I LOVE them as a company & order all of my books from them now! They ship super fast, great service, books always show up as described, super cheap, & good for the planet because they’re second-hand, but you get to choose the quality!
  • BetterHelp -A week of Therapy for FREE!
  • Betterment -Invest your first $5,000 for FREE!
  • Back Market -My referral code: 6888f588d6f85083 -$10 off your order! Refurbished Tech! My sister & I both got “new” phones from there. They’re awesome, great quality, so much cheaper than buying new (by up to 70%), came super fast, was super easy to buy, AND we saved 123 pounds of carbon emissions, each!

2 thoughts on “Sustainable Holiday & Gift Guide:

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