Creative alternatives and new traditions to gift giving

Just as I’m trying to move towards a low-waste lifestyle, along comes Christmas – the largest global gift giving day of the year. It’s hard to beat that little jolt of pleasure that comes from opening gifts on Christmas morning in your pyjamas with a mug of hot chocolate and your loved ones around you. But things are changing – especially in my household – where we decided to skip the traditional gift giving and make new traditions.

This holiday season, I’m skipping the last minute stress to buy friends and family gifts (that they probably don’t need), skipping the tonnes of plastic and paper waste surrounding gift giving, and prioritizing the environment to hopefully inspire others to do the same.

Here are my top 4 ideas to skipping the traditional gift giving, but still spreading the love of holiday joy:

  1. Skip material gifts and gift experiences instead
    In my honest opinion, experiences are more memorable than material items. I would rather receive a gift card for a spa day, a package of spin class passes or go to a cooking class with my loved ones (hint hint, nudge nudge) than a sweater that I may or may not even like. Experiences and spending more time with your loved ones create memories and that’s what the holidays are all about. And the options are endless! Concerts, restaurants, a pottery class, a weekend road trip – the list can go on. Making a donation in someone’s name to a charity that is dear to their heart is also very thoughtful and will put a smile on anyone’s face! 
  2. DIY or baked gifts
    Who doesn’t love a scrumptious candy cane brownie? Instead of buying gifts this holiday season, gift delicious baked goods or homemade chutneys and jams. If you’re not the baking-type, but still want to make something personable, try knitting or printing out some of their favourite photos and creating a photo album. One of my most loved gifts was when I collected recipes from each of my family members and created the Jamal Family Cookbook. I added fun photos and stories, along with a collection of the Jamal family classic eats!
    gift giving candy cane brownies
  3. Buy second-hand gifts or quality items
    If you don’t want to move away from giving gifts all together, consider buying pre-loved gifts. Thrift shops are full of gems, you just need to sift through the racks to find the perfect piece. From scarves to jewelry to clothing and artwork, thrift shops pretty much have it all and can be your one-stop-shop to buying gifts. If you’d rather buy something new, shop at local boutiques and shops that sell quality, one-of-a-kind things – they will mean so much more to your loved ones and there’s the added benefit of supporting a small local business.
  4. Swap gift-giving games with board games, arts & crafts or volunteering in the community
    From White Elephant to Secret Santa, gift giving through games has become a popular tradition in friend groups, family get togethers and even in offices with colleagues. While these games are fun, they promote the culture of buying (usually cheap) items that, honestly, end up in next year’s yard sale. But there are many other ways to promote togetherness at holiday parties such as playing board games, doing arts & crafts and giving back to the community by volunteering for the day. 

We all need to do our part in stopping the flow of mass-produced plastic toys, cheap party clothes and throwaway electronic fads. This holiday season, give gifts that warm people’s heart and not the environment!

Check out my other blog on how to have an eco-friendly holiday season including tips on whether you should buy a real or fake Christmas tree!