Conscious Gifting: A Sustainable Christmas Gift Guide

Somehow it’s already that time of year again – there’s Santa-themed chocolate in the supermarkets, retail stores are blasting Christmas carols, and advertisements are popping up everywhere to encourage us to buy the latest gadget, gizmo, or toy for our loved ones. Christmas can be a stressful time for many reasons, but the rampant consumerism and pressure to give “good gifts” is often high on the list for those who are sustainability-minded, while placing further financial pressure during a cost of living crisis. 

While we disagree with the mass over consumption that occurs at this time of year, at Go Well we also realise the importance of gift-giving, and how it allows us to show our appreciation for loved ones, as well as add to the magic of the holidays for our kids. So, we’ve revamped our Conscious Gifing Guide, to help make Christmas a little less stressful, and a whole lot more sustainable.

Gift experiences

Our top recommendation for our Conscious Gifing Guide, in line with the materials hierarchy, is to gift experiences or your time. Experiences generally have lower emissions and resource use associated with them than products, and if you join your giftee in the experience, it also provides valuable connection time. Examples could be tickets to an upcoming gig or performance, an annual membership to a local museum, or lessons for a hobby your loved one is interested in, such as surfing or guitar. 

Get creative

Rather than buying mass-manufactured items, is there a personalised item you could create for your loved one, such as a drawing, an item of clothing, a cookie mix in a jar, or even a song? Every year I appreciate these types of personal, homemade gifts more and more. Or, you could give your loved one the chance to use their own DIY skills! MakeKit DIY Craft kits give the giftee the chance to get creative, and put their own flair on items such as shampoo bars, candles, food wraps and magnets.

Not creatively inclined? You can also gift your time. I know a number of people who would be thrilled to receive a homemade voucher for lawn mowing, oven-cleaning, or childcare. Consider what would be truly valuable for your loved one, and whether you could offer that as a service. 

Give back

Stuck on what kind of gift to get your minimalist grandma or picky friend? Consider giving the gift of giving, by donating to charity or supporting a local cause on your loved one’s behalf. Examples include The Good Registry, which offer electronic cards that recipient can use to donate to one of 65 charity partners, Oxfam Unwrapped, which gives essential gifts to people in need, or Trees That Count, an e-card that enables native tree planting across the motu.

Regenerating Nature

Getting out into nature is one of the best ways to improve mental wellbeing, and helps us appreciate the biodiverse landscape we have here in Aotearoa; giving a living gift this Christmas will help encourage your loved ones to get out and do the mahi our environment needs. Kōanga specialise in 100% organic, regenerative and NZ grown seeds, trees, and perennials, and they also offer special memberships. Or for a cheaper stocking filler, Comvita offer these great pollinator seeds, to help encourage biodiversity to thrive.

Buy secondhand

Is your child after a particular toy, or your dad in desperate need of a replacement dressing gown? See if you can find one secondhand. Platforms like TradeMe, Facebook Marketplace, and Depop are great for online secondhand shopping, or you can try your luck at a local op shop. Buying secondhand keeps products and materials in circulation longer, and often saves you a ton of money – it’s win-win!

Buy consciously

If you’re committed to buying new, aim to buy local products that don’t cause environmental or social harm in their creation or at their end-of-life. We’ve made some suggestions below.

Summer Scents

If your loved one is looking for a new scent for summer that steers away from synthetic ingredients and chemicals, then check out Abel Fragrances. Their range is made in New Zealand and is vegan and cruelty free, with fragrances for both you and your home. Earth Candles Co also use natural ingredients such as soy wax to make their candles, and their packaging is made from upcycled beer/wine bottles with reclaimed wood lids. Also, heritage New Zealand brand Ethique have great gift packs, which are perfect for any member of the family.

Holiday Ready

For gifts that will get used over the Summer holidays, why not gift items that every kiwi needs over the Summer break – Wildflower, No Bites, Herbal Insect Repellent uses natural ingredients to help warn off those pesky mozzies, and, after your well needed dip, why not dry off using a beautiful beach towel made from organically grown cotton by New Zealand brand Baina. For your daily coffee trip to the local café, try IdealCups New Zealand made and designed reusable cups, helping to support local manufacturing and artists. And for the Summer barbie, try The Good Source’s reusable cooking mats and kitchen essentials to help minimise what ends up in our kitchen bins.

A Summer Celebration

For those that enjoy a tipple over the holidays, try New Zealand made gin from Juno Gin who have beautifully designed bottles, and recycle all by-products from the distilling process. For the more traditional beverage, check out Organic Wines, who have a selection of organically grown New Zealand wines. 

We hope this guide gives you some festive food for thought as we approach the Christmas season. Meri Kirihimete from the Go Well team and happy gift giving!

Written by Kate Lodge, Sustainability Consultant at Go Well Consulting.

Image by Cottonbro Studio from Pexels.