In my dreams, the holiday season is warm and candle-lit, the house smelling of gingerbread and pine and mulled wine. The gifts I give are always handmade, home-cooked and eco-wrapped in recycled newspaper or hand-died fabric, artfully tied. Almost no money was spent, and everyone is happy.
- I live in Australia. It's the complete wrong season for all this. Think sunburn and beaches and iced drinks instead.
- I'm pregnant and tired. And even when I'm not pregnant, unless I've been preparing all year, those homemade gifts are not going to get done. Let's be honest. I'm a work in progress when it comes to homemade, eco, waste free living.
But since all this still matters to me, even if I'm realistic in the expectations I place on myself to achieve the ideal, I do like to do my best when it comes to gift giving.
Christmas can turn into an incredibly wasteful, expensive time of year very easily. It's hard to reign this in. Suddenly the urge to eat and buy and consume is at least double what it normally is! And we all know, when we are honest about it, that waste free living is a challenge at the best of times - and even more-so when it comes to Christmas and holiday seasons.
So if you're not already well into the swing of waste-free, eco living, and if you haven't prepped your family for a really pared down Christmas, now may not be the time to spring it on them. And I'm never keen to be a grinch. You don't win people over to different ideas by taking away everything they are used to all at once.
And a balanced approach to money and buying things is better for everyone's mental and emotional wellbeing that trying to meet some perfect ideal. You have permission to feel free and generous this season.
See this as an opportunity to explore the possibilities. GIve gifts that are ethical, responsible, eco-friendly - and also amazing & quality & just what they want!
Look for things that are made to last and are both practical and beautiful. And since a lot of this stuff can be an expensive investment - it lasts, but it comes with an upfront cost - Christmas is a great chance to give people things they may have been putting off or unable to afford buying for themselves.
Handmade can be this also, of course. And I do love shopping at markets where you can find beautiful stuff made my artisans. We just bought some beautiful handmade ceramic mugs with silicone lids fitted to use for takeaway coffees. I'd recommend these to you in our gift guide, but these guys - with a pottery wheel right at their stall doing some stuff while we watched! - didn't even have business card yet. (If you're local to Aldinga, SA let me know and I'll tell you where to find them! Update: they now have a facebook page.)
But if you can't find the right stuff at markets, or have run out of time to hunt around, then hopefully this guide will help a bit. Aimed at Australians, (and contains affiliate links to an Australian store that we love) but will give you ideas wherever you are.
And we've tried to cover everyone - kids, gardeners, foodies and more. (Several of these things we have bought or will be buying ourselves, so we'll try to get up some reviews for those as well!)
And most of these are really not expensive - most under $50.
(Contains affiliate links - mostly to Biome or Amazon. But we've focused on things we've either bought/used ourselves, or things we would be really happy to receive as gifts ourselves! None of it is influenced or sponsored by Biome or anyone else - I'd love to get free stuff from them! But I haven't. 🙂 Thanks for supporting Berkana.)
There are much cheaper versions of these kinds of bottles all over the place now. But the S'well bottles are the real quality ones, that keep liquids hot or cold for a lot longer than the cheap ones. And maybe something people have put off buying for themselves because of the cost.
I know I have. I'd love a real quality S'well one to replace my cheap one. They come in so many designs too, so this one is a great gift idea for anyone, not just men.
I've just realised everything in this 'gifts for him' section is black.
Sorry men, apparently you're not allowed to like colour...
But whether the man in your life is a hipster or just your regular old beard grower, keep it fresh!
Gifts For Her
A little pampering won't totally make up for what can be a stressful time of year, but it does go a long way!
Gifts For MUMS & BABIES
For new mamas and their bundles of
Mindfulness for Mums - Yvette Jane
"Calm. Composed. Compassionate."
Who doesn't want to feel like that over Christmas! Especially mums, who have likely been so busy thinking of everything and everyone else.
Give them a little calm in a book of beautifully designed mantras & mindfulness tips.
I was given a scented eye pillow and a pack of herbal tea last year, and it was such a nice gift.
Putting the pillow over my eyes for even 5-10 minutes of relaxation is surprisingly so refreshing, when you don't have time for a nap. And who does right now? 🙁
(Maybe give a coupon for a nap with this!)
An Audible Subscription
I am getting ready to try this, when the new baby comes and I don't have my hands free to read books. A few mums I know have highly recommended it, and swear by Audible now as a way to get back to 'reading' books when kids are taking up any time you used to have for sitting down to read.
A mum can use it in the car, listen in the shower, the bath (if she's so lucky to get one), while feeding, cleaning etc.
Gifts For KiDS & FAMILY
Fun, long lasting & something that they'll love for longer than a day.
They make a couple of different shapes of these. We have the round ones, and they are great. I can see my daughter one day using these with her kids. There is a little bit of silicone on these - where the sticks insert - but the rest is totally made of stainless steel.
They are great for summer!
We have this, but I actually found it at an op shop. Because of the packaging, I at first thought it was something old from the 70's - then I saw it on Biome and realised it's a current product!
It's such a cool, simple, low-tech idea. You lay items - flowers, leaves, anything around the house - over the special paper then expose it to sunlight and it leaves the print. It's both artistic and nature-inspired.
Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls (on Amazon)
Or from Biome
I just bought this for my daughter for her birthday - I haven't even seen what she thinks of it yet, but I LOVE it.
It is filled with 100 inspirational stories about real women, plus it is so beautifully illustrated. And even the cover has a really nice, almost suede like feel. It's great.
Book 2 is up for pre-order now too, so you may be able to get both in time for Christmas.
Gifts For Foodies
Cooks and food lovers are an eco gift buying delight. There are so many options.
(find it on Amazon if you're not in Aus or want the digital version. But I recommend the Hardback for cookbooks!)
You can almost never go wrong with a good cook book - if it has beautiful pictures & healthy, trendy recipes, a foodie is probably going to love it.
And this one, filled with one-bowl vegetarian and gluten free recipes, is definitely on trend right now.
Delightfully vintage. Couple with a jar for honey - maybe a handmade clay pot if you can find one - and this makes a cool, unique gift. Great for a Secret Santa or stocking stuffer too.
Something that can put people off making their own brew of the Booch is not having the right container to make it in.
I know that was a delay for me for ages!
This one is more on the expensive side, but a great idea for the right person.
Bonus points if you give them the SCOBY and starter brew as well for a whole kit.
Gifts For Gardeners
Whether newbie gardeners or experienced green thumbs.
This is one of those things you don't have to have, you can make paper seedling pots without it - which is why it makes a really good gift idea. Because it does make the job easier, but so many people won't end up buying it for themselves.
Maybe they'll even gift you some seedlings back!
We love the Bokashi bucket system! We have two in our house, so we can keep them rotating. This could be a gift for foodies too - as it is a great system for your food scraps. But to make the most of it, you need a garden - the liquid you get is used as fertiliser, and the fermented scraps can be composted or buried for super nutrient rich material for your soil.
Gifts For ADVENTURERS
For people who make the road their second home.
Great for camping trips, road trips, adventure travel - any time access to power points might not be available, or you just want to use the power of the sun instead.
I haven't got one of these to recommend a particular brand, but I would love one. A cool alternative to the traditional back-up power banks.
Gifts For Stationery Addicts
For those sloth-like post Christmas feels. This 'Veggin' Out" notebook features some sloths in vegetable leaves. There are other cool designs too.
Made with 100% post-consumer-waste, printed with soy ink, and designed and printed by a small family run company using bio-gas. Doesn't get much more eco for stationery!
This one's got me intrigued! "According to the book Change the World 9 to 5 (2007), if every offer worker in Australia saved one staple a day, that would be 88.3 tonnes of steel saved a year."
So this is a pretty cool idea. It only joins three sheets of paper, so it's not a total replacement - but pretty handy for small jobs, and pretty nifty! (Stationery addicts tend to like nifty things. 😉
Gifts For Entrepreneurs
Subscriptions - there are lots of tools and programs that make an entrepreneurs life easier. Whether they already have the subscription, or you're introducing them to it, paying for a year of something like Evernote Premium, Tailwind or ConvertKit for them could be invaluable.
(Just make sure you know what they actually use or would want to use though.)
Gifts For ANYONE
Again - gift cards. Let them go shopping themselves - don't think of this as a cop-out. I really love gift cards! I love shopping and I love to pick my own things, and choose from my own wish-list of things I've got mentally stored up so. So a gift card, like from Biome, can actually be a really thoughtful present!
I hope that's given you some inspiration and ideas!