Published: Dec. 1, 2021 By

decorating cookies

The holidays can be a time of celebration and connecting with friends and family, often with the tradition of exchanging gifts. If you participate in this tradition, non-traditional or reusable gifts can help leave a positive impact. Here are a few things to consider for a green holiday season.

Give experiences, not things

Studies have shown that experiences bring us more happiness than things. Experiences with your friends and family help make new memories—creating a great holiday gift. Treat your friends to a concert or a movie together. Take your family members out for their favorite meal. Consider giving someone an audiobook that you can listen to together, or gather photos for a digital photo album. 

There are also creative ways to give experiences without spending money. You could make plans to bake cookies together, organize a game night or start a holiday tradition of decorating your room or apartment with homemade crafts. If you have a good recommendation for a podcast or show, share it with someone you think would like it. Try playing a game online while video chatting. Whatever it is, make the focus of your gift spending quality time together.

Give homemade

Think of your favorite hobbies and consider how you can use your time and talents to make gifts this year. Making your signature dessert as a gift for friends and family is a more personal way to spread holiday cheer. Or you could create a digital cookbook full of collected family recipes. Did you learn to knit recently? A homemade scarf will be a more treasured gift than something from a store—and will probably last longer as well. 

Choose gifts that reduce waste

Sometimes a new item makes the most sense for someone on your gifting list. Consider reusable everyday items that can help reduce waste, or look for items made from recycled materials. Here are some of our favorite ideas:

  • Travel mugs
  • Water bottles
  • Stainless steel straws
  • Fun reusable shopping bags
  • Snack bags and sandwich wraps
  • Bamboo utensil set
  • Leak-proof food storage containers
  • Gift wrap bags

Plan ahead with online shopping orders

The convenience of online shopping is great for the holidays. Planning ahead and ordering gifts early can help you take advantage of greener shipping options.

Depending on where you’re ordering from, there are sometimes in-store pick up options that can help you avoid shipping costs and cut down on trips made by delivery trucks. Some companies also offer different options to have orders delivered together on the same day or in the fewest possible packages.

And remember to recycle cardboard boxes and packaging material once your items are delivered. Similarly, cardboard boxes can also be reused as gift boxes or to store any holiday items until next season!

Be mindful of reducing and reusing items

Between holiday gift giving and more, there tends to be an above average amount of waste during the holiday season. Looking for ways you can reduce and reuse not only helps the environment, but it can also save you money.

  • Reuse items you already have to wrap your gifts, such as old maps or fabric.
  • Plan a craft day to make holiday decorations with items you have on hand instead of purchasing new ones.
  • Save any gift bags or wrapping paper you receive with a gift to reuse next year.
  • Consider including a reusable gift wrap bag as part of the gift.

For more ideas, check out the Green Holiday Guide and join the Sustainable Buffs Community for more everyday sustainable lifestyle tips.