The holidays can be a time of celebration and connecting with friends and family, often with the tradition of exchanging gifts. You can reduce your environmental impact with non-traditional gifts or homemade presents. Many sustainable gift options are also more affordable to help you celebrate with less financial stress. Here are a few things to consider for a more affordable and sustainable holiday season.
Give experiences, not things
Studies have shown that experiences bring us more happiness than things. You can help your friends and family make new memories—creating a great holiday gift. Treat your friends to a concert or a movie together. Take a cooking class with your family to make a special meal, or plan a self-care day to relieve holiday stress.
There are also creative ways to give experiences without spending money. You could plan to bake cookies together, organize a game night or start a holiday tradition of decorating your room or apartment with homemade crafts. If you’re celebrating the holidays away from home, try playing a game online while video chatting. Whatever it is, focus on quality time together.
Campus event gift ideas:
- Treat a friend to bowling at The Connection.
- Give tickets to a CU Presents performance.
- Cheer on the Buffs with tickets for a CU Buffs men’s or women’s basketball game.
- Plan to watch a movie at Program Council’s Friday Night Film Series.
- Give passes from the Rec Center with a day pass or specialty pass for the Climbing Gym, Intramural Pass or Be Fit Pass to access fitness classes.
Consider how you can use your time and talents to make gifts this year. Making your signature dessert 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. Do you like photography? Gather photos you’ve taken for a digital photo album or give a frame with your favorite photo. You can get creative and make practical custom crafts.
Use campus resources to create gifts:
- Register for DIY Night pillow making.
- Attend Buffalo Nights guided painting class.
- Make a personalized beanie at DIY Night beanie embroidery.
- Check out the Second Saturday program at the CU Art Museum to create a work of art.
Choose gifts that reduce waste
Sometimes, a new item makes the most sense for someone on your gifting list. Consider reusable 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
Give gifts to use, enjoy or grow
Potted plants make great gifts that can brighten up living spaces. Environmentally friendly brands of candles, soaps or other items are gifts that your friends and family can use for a long time—even better if they are refillable or come in a reusable container. Gifts can allow people to try products they might not otherwise buy, like bars of shampoo and conditioner or toothpaste tablets in a reusable container with a compostable bamboo toothbrush.
With a new semester around the corner, replenishing school supplies can make an excellent gift for a friend, sibling or roommate. Look for school supplies made from sustainable or recycled materials. Board games, art and books are also gifts people can keep and use for a long time. Think about longevity and usefulness when choosing presents over fad or gag gifts.
Check out campus shopping ideas:
- Use Campus Cash to purchase gifts at Fiske Planetarium or retail markets, including the Emporium, which has a selection of board games, succulents, skateboards, eco-friendly products and fun gift items.
- Shop for school supplies and other gifts at the CU Book Store.
- Select education items, art, books and other gifts from the CU Museum of Natural History gift shop.
Be mindful of reducing and reusing items
There are other ways to be sustainable beyond just the gifts you give, including being mindful of how you order, wrap and send gifts and decorate your space.
Here are ways to incorporate sustainability:
- Use reusable shopping bags when buying gifts.
- Reuse items you already have to wrap your gifts, such as old maps or fabric.
- Avoid extra decorations in wrapping, like tissue paper and ribbons or bows that can’t be recycled.
- 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.
- If ordering items online, try to order together to avoid multiple shipments or choose in-store pickup.
- Recycle boxes and shipping materials or reuse them to wrap gifts.