The Ultimate Conscious Gift Guide

The Ultimate Conscious Gift Guide

It might seem strange to start a Christmas gift guide this way, but I recommend trying the non-gift giving gift route this season. For almost the entire time Simon and I have been together, we haven’t brought each other gifts because we just don’t need “stuff” - instead, we usually opt for a shared experience, something we can do to make memories together. It also just happens that “the no-gift-giving” Christmas works in perfectly with trying to live more sustainably, as it means we reduce unnecessary consumption.  

During the silly season, we tend to get a bit carried away and spend far too much money on things we don’t really need. In our case, our families are scattered around New Zealand and Australia, so Christmas is much more focused on catching up and spending time with our families.

However, not everyone is comfortable with the idea of not giving gifts at Christmas, and that is completely okay, traditions are important and gift giving can mean different things to different people. Therefore, we’ve created a list of ideas and tips for you to gift more ethically and sustainably this Christmas, as well as hopefully being a little kinder on your wallet!


If you have a talent or two use it to your advantage, whether it be sewing, baking or offering up your handy-man skills.

  • My go-to gift is homemade sugar scrub, it's easy to make, costs very little and you can change up the ingredients to suit a person's particular tastes, and it can be made completely waste free!
  • Recycled fabric to make stuffed toys for kids. You can also use fabric scraps to stuff it.
  • Baked goods, like homemade cookies, cake or whatever your go-to recipe is and you enjoy making.
  • Homemade scented soy candles, you can make these in batches and also upcycle all sorts of vessels to make bespoke candles for the whole family.

    Photo by Arnold Leung on Unsplash

    An experience

    This is how we like to give gifts, creating memories together rather than collecting stuff. For years Simon and I have been organising an activity to celebrate birthdays and anniversaries. It’s an excuse to do things we wouldn’t normally do.

    • Vouchers to restaurants or cafes (get in touch if you want to know my favourites).
    • A weekend away – we love off grid glamping eco getaways (and highly recommend North Landing)!
    • Movie or date night ideas, you can add a list of ideas to a jar and use throughout the year.
    • Vouchers to workshops like pottery, cooking classes or a terrarium workshop.

      Photo by Neslihan Gunaydin on Unsplash

      Food & Drink

      Who doesn’t love food (and wine!), this is an easy win and again can be completely waste free.

      • Bulk buy delicious treats, like chocolate or dried fruits from your local bulk food store and package in a glass jar.
      • Locally made wine, beer or olive oil. These generally always come in glass bottles which are easily recyclable.
      • Roasted coffee beans or loose-leaf tea in reusable glass jars.
      • Market finds - there are loads of farmers markets selling locally made foods. This is a great way to support locals and the food has travelled fewer miles.

        Photo by Scott Warman-from on Unsplash

        Something more meaningful

        Why not gift something to those less fortunate? Christmas is a hard time of year for many families all over the world, and donating to a Charity can be a great gift that makes a world difference for those less fortunate.  Instead of buying a gift that has a limited lifespan, or worse yet, one that just never gets used, you can give that money to a charity that helps those in need, as it has a far greater impact.

        • Oxfam unwrapped – By choosing an Oxfam Unwrapped gift like a piglet or a solar lamp, not only are you buying a great gift, you’re giving someone living in poverty in the developing world the chance of a better life. 
        • Million Metre - Give a gift to family, friends and colleagues this Christmas that will keep on giving. Million Metres is on a mission to restore NZ’s rivers, streams, lakes & wetlands. We can defiantly do with more trees in the world and improving our waterways.
        • Tearfund Gift of life - Giving a little never meant so much. Donate a life-changing gift on someone else’s behalf and receive a card to give them, letting them know the difference they’ve made in the life of someone in need.
        • Christmas Box – Christmas gift-wrapped food boxes to neighbouring families in need. Christmas Box is a food box that caters to a family of 4-6, helping supplement breakfast, lunch and dinner meals for over a week.

        Photo by Noah Buscher on unsplash

        Shop Local

        If you are going to buy something new, then try supporting small local New Zealand businesses – locally made products tend to have a smaller impact on the environment.

        Head to your local farmers market, hunt around online or check out the great bunch of locals over on @our_zero_waste_xmas. But if you get in a real pickle, send me a message and I’ll recommend a few of my favourites to help you out.

        Now how do you wrap these beautiful gifts… stay tuned for our low waste gift wrapping guide coming soon!

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