• Lisette

Conscious Gifts

Updated: Dec 4, 2018

The holiday season is around the corner and lots of us are running around or doing a lot of online browsing trying to find the perfect gift for our loved ones.

It can definitely be challenging to get the perfect gift and I will attempt to give you some great suggestions which will not only please the receiver but will also be good for the environment.

conscious gifts, sustainable, ethical, no waste

In the week after Black Friday and Cyber Monday, I want to show you how we can make better choices. For me, this quote summarizes beautifully what these days are about:

“We are once again spending money we don’t have on things we don’t need to give to people we don’t like” – Dave Ramsey.

Since I am Dutch, a big tradition is to celebrate Sinterklaas (Saint Nicolas) on December 6th. It is mainly directed towards children and we would get lots of gifts! This meant that Christmas was never as big when it came to giving presents and it remained like that throughout the years.

I was also brought up with the principle of quality over quantity, so all of us have the tendency to buy fewer gifts but long-lasting ones. I realise this is not the case for everyone so here are a few suggestions of how to approach this holiday season a bit differently, also including sustainable and ethical gift giving.


My first suggestion is to forego on gifts altogether. Christmas and the holidays are about spending time with your favourite people and time is the most precious gift you can give since it is the only thing you will never get back. I did it last year and the entire family ended up agreeing we would not buy any gifts for each other.

You can also agree to give, whatever you would spend on gifts, to charity and give back to your local community. A variation on this is instead of giving money to charity, you can give your time to charity and volunteer at your local soup kitchen or shelters. Giving back and contributing will make you feel great. It’s been proven!

conscious gifts, sustainable, ethical, no waste, home-made, self-made

Choose to give experiences over “stuff”. Be honest, what “stuff” do you really need? I believe experiences are much more fun, you keep the memories and spend time doing/learning something new and maybe even do it with people you like to be around. Don't forget to take pictures and whenever you look at them later, you will (hopefully) have a great memory you can reminisce on.

Need some inspiration? Movie tickets, concert tickets, LENA Fashion Library subscription or your local fashion library (for my friends in Amsterdam), film/music streaming services, dance classes, adventure trip, city trip, spa voucher, beauty treatment, artistic classes like drawing or painting, cooking classes, pole dancing classes, amusement park tickets, cocktail making workshops, wine or any spirit tasting events,…

conscious gifts, sustainable, ethical, honey, local products
Swiss Alpine Honey subscriptions package

Another lovely idea, especially for my Swiss friends, is a honey subscription from Swiss Alpine Honey. You receive 3 beautiful kinds of honey of your choice every month for as long as you choose (3, 6 or 12 months) delivered to your home. All the honey comes from the Alpine region and is simply exquisite. You can also order them separately of course and they offer beautiful hand-carved wooden gift boxes. Highly recommend it!

They currently only ship within Switzerland, however, due to high demand from abroad, they are working hard on expanding. Check them out and get in touch so they know you’re interested as well!

Instead of buying something you can also draw, sew, knit, cook, sing, build, make,… something.

conscious gifts, sustainable, ethical, no waste, essential oils, bath salts

One of my passions is DoTerra essential oils and you can make so many beautiful gifts with them. One super simple recipe I can share with you is a sugar scrub. I have made it a few times now and it is super easy and quick and is an amazing gift!

You can use glass jars or re-use your old scrub containers.

Sugar Scrub:

1 cup of sugar

1/3 cup of olive oil

10-15 drops of high-quality essential oils

  • Summer Delight: 2 drops each of Grapefruit, Ylang Ylang, Eucalyptus, Lavender and Geranium

  • Asian Spice: 3 drops Ginger, 3 drops Coriander, 2 drops Lemongrass and 1 drop Lime

sustainable, gifts, ethical, home-made, natural, essential oils
DoTerra Bath Balls

There are many other beautiful gifts you can make with essential oils such as bath salts, bath balls, hand or foot cream (buy a basic cream without perfume and add essential oils), room spray, natural perfume and more. Please make sure to use high-quality oils and respect the dilution rules when making these gifts. If you are interested in this, please check out the DoTerra website and feel free to contact me if you’re interested.

Another slightly more time-intensive suggestion is to make something with pictures. It could be a book, a calendar or a picture frame or board. Pictures remind of us good moments in life and can cheer you up. It invokes gratitude for the beautiful memories we have created with is a very important sentiment for our wellbeing.

Self-made gifts always add this little extra charm, however, I understand not everyone has time to do this. So I would like to suggest a few websites where you can find gifts with attention for people and planet and which will last longer to prevent creating waste.

UK: Buy Me Once - https://buymeonce.com/

US: https://www.thehonestconsumer.com/

NL: https://www.greenjump.nl

conscious gifts, sustainable, ethical, no waste

Megean wrote a beautiful list with 101 waste-free gift ideas on the website Zero Waste Nerd. No point in trying to repeat it all so you can find it by clicking here. You can also find great gift ideas on www.eco-age.com.

Gift wrapping

A few ideas to save on gift wrapping paper because the quote below is very concerning:

“Each year, the US spends over $3.2bn on wrapping paper and each year Britons throw out enough gift wrap to circle the globe nine times.” - The Guardian
no waste, no plastics, conscious, sustainable, ethical, gifts
Avoid plastics in your gifts this year!

Some suggestions on alternatives:

1. Use brown paper with a simple string and add some greenery to liven it up.

2. Save wrapping paper from gifts received and re-use it.

3. Use Newspaper or magazines.

4. Wrap your gifts in a vintage silk scarf or funky linen tea towel. It is a fabulous way of wrapping gifts and they are a little something extra without creating waste! This is an old Japanese technique called ‘Furoshiki’.

5. Have your kids draw and decorate paper and use it as wrapping paper.

conscious gifts, sustainable, ethical, no waste
Furoshiki, a Japanese wrapping technique with scarves or tea towels

Using these suggestions reduces waste and allows an opportunity for reuse, but another reason is that a good portion of wrapping products aren’t recyclable.

That’s right, although it’s called wrapping paper, many kinds of gift wrap are actually made with shiny foil or coated in plastic film, rendering it unfit for the recycling bin. Same goes for plastic ribbons and bows (they’re inexpensive and pretty but can’t be recycled).

I hope this gave you some renewed insights and some original ideas to give “better” gifts.

Please feel free to share your suggestions, would love to hear them!

Tags: #sustainability #consciousgifts #nowaste #ethical

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