Thoughtful Christmas present ideas for thrifty and eco-conscious people

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Do you ever feel like Christmas can go one of two ways?  It can be a wonderful way to end the year enjoying the things that you value (time with family, relaxation, creating memories). Or, it can be the complete opposite – stressful plans and setting yourself up for a difficult start to the year after wasting money on piles of presents that nobody wanted or needed in the first place.  For people who feel strongly about waste and the role of consumerism in climate change, getting presents you aren’t going to use can throw a damper on the day, leaving you wishing you had all agreed not to get presents.

If you are struggling for ideas for thoughtful gifts that will be valued and appreciated by the thrifty and eco-conscious people in your life, read on.  There might be some ideas here that you can add to your own wish list too.

Items to help them ditch disposables

Often items that help you to cut down on your waste have a higher upfront cost.  This makes them wonderful gift ideas as you can treat your loved one to something that is going to be great for both their finances and their environmental impact without them needing to make the initial outlay.  

Some of my favourite examples are:

  • A metal safety razor – This type of razor will cost more than a plastic alternative (approx £15 versus £5-10).  However the cost of safety razor blades is far lower than other types of refills and the razor itself should last forever, so over the years this gift could save them hundreds as well as avoiding plastic waste. People also typically find that a safety razor gives a much cleaner shave although it can be a bit hair-raising the first time you try ;). I’ve switched and would recommend.
  • Reusable lunch/snack box – A lightweight metal lunchbox makes taking packed lunch to work a breeze which of course helps with avoiding expensive lunches and meal deals in plastic packaging.  We also save so much money by buying dried fruit and shortbread in bulk and taking our own snacks on days out. 
  • Refillable fountain pen – If you are buying for someone who likes journaling (or works from home) then a refillable fountain pen is a thoughtful gift which will also mean they no longer need to buy plastic, unrecyclable pens (or dutifully collect freebie pens from hotel lobbies and job interviews that will end up fuelling a lifelong game of “pen roulette”).  
  • Period pants – I personally swear by period pants, as I don’t find menstrual cups comfortable.  I would have saved so much money and waste if I had had them during my pregnancies too.  They are pricey though so are a great gift if there’s a lady in your life who already uses them or is open to trying something new.

Books about sustainability and or personal finance

If you are buying for somebody who is interested in either of these topics then chances are there will have a long wishlist of books.  I’ve recently created a bookshop with some of my favourites, and through Bookshop.org the books can be bought from local sellers as opposed to Amazon.

For books I’ll always recommend checking World of Books first to see if they have the title secondhand. Every one I’ve bought so far has been in great condition, definitely giftable.  Now that I’ve discovered Ziffit though I am more comfortable buying new books as I know how easy it is to get them back into hands of someone else who is going to enjoy them.

An upcycling workshop

An experience gift is always appreciated by people who are trying to cut down on their clutter, and what better experience than one that can teach you how to breathe new life into something you already have or can buy secondhand.

As well as the eco-credentials you could also give your loved one the skills to start a side hustle by buying them an upcycling course.  Sadly due to Covid many in-person upcycling courses have stopped but there are more online than ever.  

Udemy has an amazing range of upcycling courses, from natural dyeing to eco-friendly interior design and all for under £15 each.

Treat foods

I know that food (or wine) that I love and will eat is one of my favourite things to receive, especially when it means you can have a fancy and frugal date night experience at home.  

It’s always handy to have nice snacks around between Christmas and New Year but the cost adds up, so gifting these can really help bring down food costs towards the end of the year.

I love to get a few treats in bulk and make up hampers as gifts (especially in a box or basket that can become the “kept” part of the present).   

My absolute favourite treats are Perello olives. Wine can also be a good option, especially if you have a few people to buy for as you can often get a discount with six bottles.  Majestic has a large range of organic options.

Kit for crafts, baking or DIY

I’ve written before about how some creative hobbies are great money savers and also good for the environment.  If the person you are buying for is a keen baker, breadmaker, sewer or any other type of DIYer, it’s usually quite easy to get them something that they will enjoy using.

For example, for the sourdough breadmakers out there, you almost can’t get enough bannetons. We now batch cook six loaves at a time, slice them and keep in the freezer for weeks’ worth of toast.  

What passionate sewer would not appreciate a gift voucher for a fabric store? While you are visiting the site, you might like to pick up some Christmas fabrics that you can use to wrap your presents, furoshiki-style…

A subscription for Ethical Consumer magazine

For someone who is really passionate about spending their money with ethical businesses, look no further than a Christmas gift subscription to Ethical Consumer magazine.  This is high quality, interesting and comprehensive content that will empower your friend or family member to spend in line with their values.

Plastic free toiletries

Forget those gift sets that end up gathering dust because the person who received doesn’t actually use body moisturiser, never has time for a face mask or just doesn’t fancy smelling like mango and coconut.

I’d recommend either asking the person what they like and use, or going with staple body products that everybody uses, like deodorant.  I wholeheartedly recommend this deodorant from Scence in glass and metal packaging. It works wonderfully, is creamy on application and lasts forever.

There’s more than one way to do Christmas

Of course, agreeing not to get presents or buying second hand are great options too, but I also realise there are lots of situations where you might be comfortable doing that, or might not want to.  

So, I hope this has given you some inspiration for ideas which not only pass the “what do you get someone who has everything?” test but even the “what do you get someone who doesn’t want anything.”

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