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Better than a gift guide: 5 secret sustainable Christmas hacks

Gift-giving made eco-consciously (and recycled)

Do you love Christmas, gifts yet want to be more sustainable at the same time? Here are some very original ideas for a creative eco gift giving to make this time of the year more meaningful.

It’s Christmas! The best time of the year! I love the holidays. I love getting lots of presents. So I feel a little tug of war with being Earth-loving and celebrating this festive season. But I found five hacks for a sustainable Christmas that make this a season of joy while being more eco-conscious.

  • Give gifts your friends and family will love

Picking the perfect gift for your loved ones is one tricky task. What to get her? Candle? Make-up? Handbag? Gift guides sometimes are a good help, yet each person is unique, and there’s no universal gift that appeals to everyone.

And how familiar is this scenario? You splurge to get your loved one a gift and they don’t really appreciate it. And this happens every Christmas. So this year, why not change the way we gift? It’s such a shame when you spend all that hard-earned cash to try to please your loved ones but they’re still not thrilled about their gift. The easiest way to gift what people actually want is simply to just ask them.

Yup, it’s that easy. Just ask. Ask them “What do you want for Christmas?”. This is pretty straightforward with kids. They’ll tell you what they want. For adults who answer “I don’t really want anything”, it makes gift giving much harder. The way to go about it is ask them what their current hobby is. And get them something related to their hobby. For example, I ask my sister what she’s crazy about right now. She’s into crystals so I narrow down my answer to crystal related things. I ask what type of crystal does she want to have.

Gift giving has been so much easier this way. And my splurges have been so worth it when I see my loved one’s eyes genuinely light up at getting what they really want.

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  • Use wrapping paper that’s recycled

So a mountain of gifts is unsustainable right? But fret not! It can still be sustainable. Use recycled wrapping materials for your gifts. It won’t look hippie; actually, when done right, it can actually look even prettier than a standard gift wrapping paper.

You can use old magazines or catalogues as gift wrappers. And tie it with a big recycled bow for a festive touch. For a nice look, choose colourful pages. If you’re wrapping a large gift, you can tape together pages of the same color family. But the key is really placing a big festive bow on the gift, or decorating with other elements such as dried oranges. It’s the ultimate hack that hides even bad gift wrapping skills. 

5 Secret hacks for a sustainable Christmas
Photo Credit: Anastasia Shuraeva from Pexels

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  • Recycle gifts. But discreetly!

Who’s guilty of recycling gifts? I am. Yup, I’m admitting to this. Yes, I secretly give gifts to others that someone gave me, but I don’t want. There’s no reason to keep something you don’t really need. Just pass it on to someone who will appreciate the gift better.

The key here is to recycle gifts discreetly. Check the gift for any telling signs that it’s been gifted to you. Remove the gift tag. Now, as to who to give it to? Gift it to someone who does NOT belong to the same social circle like the one who gave it to you. If it’s your sister who gifted it, you can pass it on to your friends who don’t hang out with your sister. Don’t gift it to a family member too or an in-law; that’s just too risky at being found out that you recycled the gift.

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  • Gift friends home-cooked food

Getting homemade food always feels great. That’s because taking the time to cook something yourself is definitely a labor of love; it gives it that special something. Everyone knows that when the holidays are in full swing, things can get crazy. So when someone takes the time and effort to cook something, it shows that they really care.

For the master chefs and those who love cooking, this is an easy task. But for kitchen newbies, maybe try for simpler things like cookies. It’s hard to mess up baking cookies. For a universal crowd-pleaser, try making chocolate chip cookies as they’re a classic and well-loved by everyone. You can cook food for their Christmas lunch or dinner if you’re more advanced. Put on your apron and go prep some yummy food!

5 Secret hacks for a sustainable Christmas
Photo Credit: Marta Dzedyshko from Pexels
  • Give a universal gift that EVERYONE appreciates 

Go for a Christmas basket or fruit basket. This idea works well for acquaintances, in-laws, officemates, picky eaters (vegan, on a diet) and when you just feel too holli-dazed to think of the perfect gift.

The Christmas basket is a very popular gift. It’s just a basket packed full of staples needed to make a Christmas spread. It’s hard to go wrong with a Christmas basket because who prepares Christmas lunch or dinner? All you need is a nice container or basket, a giant bow and a gift card for that festive vibe. You then fill your basket with canned goods, jams, and all the fixings you need to prepare a special meal. Or you can go with fair-trade chocolates & ethically-made spirited drinks!

Instead of preparing a Christmas basket for picky eaters, you can substitute it with a fruit basket. After all, who doesn’t eat fruits, right? Just arrange the season’s fresh fruits, place them in a lovely basket, and add a festive bow and a gift card.

Christmas is a season for family, joy, and gift-giving. When you celebrate the season in a more eco-friendly way, you give the ultimate gift to your loved ones. A healthy planet to live in. And THAT’S the gift that keeps on giving.

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Jean Ong

Jean Ong is the founder of Ecolover United, a movement that makes it easier for everyday folk to live sustainably and in style. She graduated college with a degree in Business Management major in Marketing, she currently works as a store manager by day and an Earth Hero at night and on the weekends. She’s a keen nature lover, maybe this came from fulfilling the prophetic nature of getting her name? Her Chinese name is Lin, meaning forest or grove of trees. She believes that: if it’s good for Mother Earth, it’s good for you.

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