I love Christmas. I can't lie. It's my favorite holiday. This year it may look a little different, but don't think that that means we can't get holly jolly! Whatever holiday you celebrate or don't celebrate, you may be giving some gifts around this time of year. So, let's talk about gifting sustainably!
- Save your Amazon boxes! All of them! I know that we've all ordered a lot of packages this year. I've ordered everything from tiny boots for my dog to books I may never read. So, because I ordered so many different things I have a variety of different box sizes for a variety of different presents. Bonus Tip: Save all of your packaging and bubble wraps too. You may need to, you know, mail your presents instead of giving them to your family because there's a global pandemic or something.
- Use your wrapping from last year. If you don’t have any wrapping material saved from last year, be sure to save it this year! Keep all your ribbons and bags and paper. Try not to rip your tissue paper, so you can use it to wrap gifts next year. Plus, it's kind of fun to pass the same wrapping or gift bag back-and-forth with the same friend or family member from year to year.
- Wrap with newspaper and old magazines. Are you like me and always grab the locally-published free publication from the coffee shop? And then end up with a stack of magazines that you've already read, but don't feel comfortable just tossing in the trash? Use them for wrapping paper! It's beautiful, the amazing designs from the magazine get a second life, and your family thinks you're 'creative', but you really just don't want to buy wrapping paper. Remember to reuse or recycle it again once it's been ripped off the gift!
- Use scrap paper for tags. I know those cute, over-priced, gift tags with the trees on them are tempting, but you can achieve the same thing with a scrap of wrapping paper. You can even just use a scrap of paper. The point is, I'm sure there are plenty of things that are already in your house that can be used for this purpose. You don't need to spend $6 on 20 gift tags, it's about the gift, not the packaging.
- Wrap your boxes in fabric instead, the gift recipient can re-use the fabric for future wrapping or other uses. I love a good dish towel, and I've been gifted a few over the years. Which is the perfect opportunity to just wrap the gift in it! Then the wrapping is a gift in itself.
- Re-usable gift bags. One could argue that all gift-bags are reusable, (ahem, tip #2, keep your bags) but it's also nice to give gifts in fabric or canvas bags that can then be used for a future gift, or at the grocery store!
- Books that you’ve read and enjoyed and think a family member or friend would enjoy too. Write a little note and your name on the inside cover to make it more special. Encourage them to continue the tradition and pass the book on once they’ve read it.
- Re-gifting. No shame it this! If you were gifted something that you do not want or use and know someone who will use it or wants it, why not give it to them? I personally would not be offended if I gave someone a gift, they ended up not using it, and re-gifted it to someone they know will use it! What a beautiful chain of giving. Let's make this more socially-acceptable!
- Antiques! Looking for a one-of-a-kind, beautiful gift for a loved one, but still, want to shop second hand? Head to an antique shop! Maybe a friend or family member is looking for a tea kettle, or coffee grinder, or something like that. You can probably find something that they'd love, is unique, and means more because it took a little time to find it.
- Shop small. There are so many small businesses on sites like Etsy that you can support. There's definitely something that someone makes by hand out there that your friends and family will like. I've found so many cool, personalized gifts on Etsy.
- Shop local! A lot of local businesses have made their products available online or with curbside pickup. So support those local businesses! They've been struggling a lot during the pandemic and need your business. If you are in the Jacksonville, Florida area, check out Medcom's Featured Small Businesses!
However you gift, or however you wrap, just remember it is all in the spirit and the meaning of the gift, not what is on the outside. Try to think of sustainable gifting as keeping the giving nature of the season top priority. In the end, those you love will be happy knowing you thought of them this year and were also able to think of the planet and your communities, too.