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Thoughtful gift ideas to help reduce waste at Christmas

Christmas is less than two weeks away, and while this time of year can be full of joy and festivity, it can also be stressful and expensive, especially when it comes to gift-giving.


In recent years I have become more and more aware of how much stuff we accumulate, not because we need it or cherish it, but just because - maybe it was bought on sale, maybe we wanted the newest thing, or maybe... it was a gift. According to a survey by ING Bank*, Australians spent $411 million on unwanted gifts last Christmas. But what's the alternative, not giving gifts at all?


If you are anything like me you will love giving gifts to friends and family, so below are five options for gift-giving that I use. These ideas won’t add to the clutter in our lives, or to the problem of receiving unwanted gifts, but instead offer alternative options for spreading joy at Christmas.

1. Experiences

Companies like Red Balloon and Adrenaline offer vouchers for experiences. There are all sorts of experiences available in various price ranges, including wild adventures like swimming with sharks, or relaxing day trips such as winery tours. I love gifting experiences as often people can’t justify spending the amount of money on themselves that they would easily spend on others. Also, if you receive an experience that isn't quite your style, you can exchange it for another experience offered on the site - no purchase receipt required.


2. Sustainable products

Often on the more expensive side, it can sometimes be hard to look at the overall cost-per-use breakdown when purchasing sustainable products. If you have a friend or family member who wants to start using sustainable products but hasn’t financially been able to take the leap - gifting them a sustainable product you know they will love is a great option.


3. The bigger picture

Our consumer culture has taught us that Christmas = presents. No question. But it doesn't have to be this way, especially if someone you know is saving up for something they need. You can help them achieve their bigger picture goal with a VISA or Mastercard gift card, or even cash. By writing a thoughtful card saying how much joy it brings you to contribute to their goal and help them on their way, no doubt both of you will find this ten times more meaningful than gifting something you picked up at the store because you felt you had to.


4. DIY and farmers markets

For years I have made gingerbread biscuits for friends and family, and a great thing about making your gifts is you can wrap them in reusable or recycled packaging. I also recommend writing a little card for edible gifts with the ingredients listed, to cover any allergies and intolerances.

If you don’t have time to make something, you can also visit your local farmers or produce markets and purchase jams, honey, and chutneys. These small-batch, locally produced items still have that personal touch and you will be supporting a local business at the same time.


5. Plants

Plants are extremely popular right now, and the good thing about them is almost anyone can have a plant - whether they have a backyard, small balcony, or like to have some greenery on their desk at work. When buying a plant for someone else keep in mind their living situation, and always try to avoid buying plants in plastic pots as these often end up in landfill. Instead, opt for a biodegradable pot made from natural materials, or a more decorative pot such as a ceramic or recycled self-watering pot. Many farmers or produce markets have plants available for purchase too.


*The New Daily; Aussies plan more ‘mindful’ Christmas spending after blowing $400 million on unwanted gifts

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