fir tree with needles

OPOH’s top 5 sustainable Christmas gift ideas

Christmas has become a time to forget about the outside world. It’s cold outside. It’s dark. And we all like to close the door on normal life for a few days, turning instead to our family members. That’s not to mention the consumerism and gluttony we’ve come to associate with this time of year. But it’s 2020 and we’ve all been sitting with ourselves for far too long. So now’s the perfect time to turn your attention outwards and consider doing something good for the world. Read on to discover our top 5 sustainable Christmas gift ideas.

Give an experience

Experiences don’t come wrapped in packaging. And the memory of an experience will almost certainly last longer than the memory of unwrapping yet another Christmas gift. Lockdown has wreaked havoc with our lives this year. But it won’t last forever.

arm and hand massaging a bare back
Perhaps your loved one would appreciate a massage or other experience this Christmas. image by alan caishan on Unsplash

So buy your loved one a massage voucher, plan a trip away, or rent a private bed & breakfast somewhere special for 2021. Support the arts by attending a socially distanced theatre performance. Or buy tickets for an attraction near you. After all, it’s always nice to have something to look forward to.

And remember, not all experiences necessitate leaving the house. The subscription format has really taken off in recent years. Book lovers will thank you for a London Bookbarge book prescription. And any food activists in your family will just love Oddbox, the company that rescues weird and wonky looking vegetables from the bins and delivers them straight to your door. Don’t forget about Leo’s Box. Set up by a teenage entrepreneur, Leo’s Box is a B-certified corporation that delivers sustainable products to your home on a regular basis.

Give creativity

There are gifts that give solace and there are gifts that inspire.

Budding artists in your family may appreciate some eco-friendly art materials or vegan paints. Get your kids’ creativity flowing with some environmentally friendly modeling clay. Or purchase some high quality, recycled paper and card and start sketching with the family.

clay model of a mouse in clay field
Have fun with clay or other ethically sourced art gifts this Christmas. Image by Timothy Dykes on Unsplash

Another way to give creativity is to gift an online course. If online courses were already on the rise, 2020 has seen them boom. And you can now learn almost anything online. The London Art College offers a range of online courses, from life drawing to still life. Or for something a little less structured, Domestika boasts hundreds of courses for creatives.

Of course, not all art-lovers like creating themselves. Support a real, independent artist by doing your Christmas shopping on Etsy. And for the refined tastes in your family, you can source quality, one-of-a-kind pieces at Abstract House.

Give food

Food gifts don’t hang around for long. They don’t fill the recipients’ houses with more useless stuff. That’s why so many sustainable Christmas gift ideas involve food. If you know a coffee connoisseur, the sustainably sourced organic coffee gift set could be just the thing. Yumbles does an incredible range of vegan treats. And the Hemp Shop offers sustainably sourced hemp products delivered in a box or hamper.

And while some love to eat, others love to forage and create. Richard Maybe’s classic book, Food for Free, is the perfect gift for those just discovering nature’s abundance. And for the more technical minded cooks in your family, Sandor Ellix Kats’s book, the Art of Fermentation, is a wonderful guide to creating sourdough, sauerkraut, and more. And if you buy them from Bookshop you’ll be supporting independent booksellers too.

orange drink fermenting in a jar
A book on fermenting could be the perfect gift. Image by Tim-Oliver Metz on Unsplash

Give practicality

Everyone loves a bit of practicality. So perhaps your loved one could do with some professional help rather than chocolates and gimmicks this Christmas. What about giving the gift of language? Preply is a platform which links clients and language tutors. Find a teacher from China, Russia, Thailand, or almost anywhere else in the world. And your money will go straight to the tutors so you can rest assured that you’re supporting independent workers.

Girl with headphones looking at Apple laptop
Some people just want to learn a language. Image by Steinar Engeland on Unsplash

Not everyone wants to learn a language. But there are hundreds of other sustainable gifts out there for the practical person in your life. Our favourites include the GustBuster wind-proof umbrella, paper made with stone from A Good Company, and Pela’s compostable phone cases.

Think outside the box

But why limit your Christmas giving to people you know and love? In times past, Christmas was a time for reflection. It was also a time for giving to those less fortunate. While these traditions have largely been buried under mass amounts of consumerism, it’s not too late to change things. Some people are still doing amazing things for others at this time of year.

Choose Love. The name says it all. Choose Love is a platform which sells gifts. But don’t expect to receive your purchases in the post. Instead, the people at Choose Love will pass on your gifts to refugees. Marketing themselves as giving “love without borders,” this exceptional company sells everything necessary for survival, from sleeping bags and camping stoves to warm boots, books, and tools.

Homeless man, head in his hands
Why not support someone who really needs it this Christmas? Image by Jonathan Rados on Unsplash

Another way to give at Christmas is to volunteer your time. Crisis is a charity that supports the homeless. It’s particularly hard to be without a home during the winter months. And at Christmas, homeless people are more likely to experience loneliness and depression. Even though social distancing will make this Christmas a different volunteering experience, the homeless still need your help.

And if you simply don’t have the time to help out, don’t let that stop you. There are plenty of ways to support important charity work this Christmas, from giving a goat or a pile of poo to someone who really needs it, to sending a quick message to an elderly person.

Final thoughts

If you want to have a more sustainable Christmas this year, all it takes is a little time and effort. If we want to leave our children a better world than the one we have today, let’s unite in our resolve to support small businesses, buy ethically made products, and cut down on our plastic packaging. Please log in and let us know of any sustainable Christmas gift ideas you’ve had.