Last minute gifts can be just as meaningful and appreciated as those prepared early. Read on for inspiration for last minute gifts that can be homemade, ethical and low waste.
The holidays can come with a lot of waste and giving of gifts that may not be put to use. Careful thought should be put into how you celebrate the holidays and giving low waste gifts is one way to ensure your holiday experiences are socially and environmentally responsible.
A great place to start is by creating edible gifts. Holiday themed baked goods and snacks can go a long way, especially when you can buy your ingredients in bulk and deliver them in second-hand containers. If you’d like to gift something less traditional and more interactive, preparing mixes for foods or drinks and putting them in nice glass jars is an interesting alternative. Some festive and winter themed options for this include DIY soup jars, hot chocolate mixes, tea making kits and, with some additional purchases, mulled wine kits. This year I’m trying something new and preparing homemade syrups, starting with a peppermint simple syrup to infuse holiday hot chocolates or cocktails. If you don’t have the ability or time to make your own edible gifts, locally sourced treats such as preserves, loose leaf tea or flavoured olive oils can be nice low waste alternatives.
Homemade, Upcycled and Second-Hand Options
Even if you’re like me and aren’t very creative or artistic, there are still quite a few ways you can repurpose items from around your house or a thrift shop to make thoughtful upcycled gifts. Second hand or regifted items are not any less gifts. Check out previous Stop Trashing It blogs for info on how to thrift and homemade soap recipes, and our DIY Self-Care Recipe Book. One cheap and easy homemade gift is to propagate your houseplants to gift some plant babies or cuttings. Of course, some will take longer to grow roots before they’re able to be planted, so if you do this with just a couple days to spare its best to include care instructions and next steps to ensure they thrive in their new home. If they make it to the planting stage before gifting, be sure to use second-hand pots or upcycled jars or tins.
Share Your Time
When I was in elementary school one of my teachers had us make coupon booklets for Father’s Day. They were filled with coupons for hugs, chores, bringing breakfast in bed and the likes. I was recently reminded of this as my dad tried to cash one in, about 20 years later. Though these were aimed at young children who couldn’t buy their parents gifts, I still think these coupons are a really cool way to ensure you spend time with or do special things for your friends and family. During the COVID-19 pandemic this likely isn’t happening as often as we’d like. Gifting a coupon book of your time is a nice way to guarantee you will spend time with those you care about, if not now then at some time soon when we can gather safely. Coupons can be for coffee dates, cooking a meal, offering to babysit or anything you know the person enjoys or would appreciate having done for them.
Another option for gifting time is to give coupons for new experiences. A lot of people are testing out new hobbies and activities during lockdowns. Gifting a coupon for experiences can give your friends and family the opportunity to try something new. Vouchers for cooking lessons, workout classes or escape rooms are just some examples. The best part about this is that many places are offering these online now so participating from home is fairly easy.
This year especially, many non-profits and charities are feeling the financial burden of COVID-19. Many have been unable to host the events that are normally their big fundraising opportunities and are seeing fewer donations. If you have the means, donating to a charitable organization in someone’s name can help these organizations stay open and continue supporting vulnerable populations.
Eco-Friendly, Ethical Gifts
If you do have the desire to gift a new product, ensure it's something you know the person needs and will use. Gift low waste supplies that they don’t yet own, such as reusable straws, wax food wraps, handkerchiefs or dryer balls. Buy local where possible and focus on supporting small businesses (check out Olivia’s blog about why you should try avoid ordering from Amazon).
It’s important to remember that you should never feel pressured to give extravagant gifts or any gift at all. Just because a gift isn’t new or expensive does not mean that you care about a person any less. Especially at a time when there are high financial burdens on many people, you shouldn’t extend yourself further than you’re capable.