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Local Gift Giving Guide to Warm Hearts, not the Planet: Sustainable Gift Ideas

It's here. The holiday season is upon us, and with it is the rise in gifting. This year, let's embark on a journey of mindful and sustainable gift-giving that not only brings joy to your loved ones but also leaves a positive impact on our planet and community. Mix it up this year with these sustainable gift ideas.

The Art of Asking

Not knowing what to get someone doesn't mean you don't know them well. If I was to ask myself what gift to give me, I wouldn't even have an answer. So, don't be afraid to ask your friends, and family what they might enjoy this holiday season. Remember just because you like something doesn't mean they will so engaging in open conversations about preferences ensures that the gift or gifts chosen are thoughtful and cherished. This not only avoids the dreaded trips down every aisle for you but also guilt-ridden returns for them. Statistics vary but the return rate after the holidays is very high! Many returned items also never return back to the shelves. Talking about interests, and needs prior to the gift-giving season helps prevent the purchase of unnecessary items and fosters a deeper connection through understanding and consideration.

Useful and Practical Gifts

The best gifts are often the ones that can bring value to someone's everyday life. Consider items that are not just beautiful but serve a purpose. Think about the hobbies and interests of your loved ones, and choose gifts that align with their passions. For example, a person who works on concrete all day and is frequently expressing how sore they are might benefit from some really comfy shoe inserts or a gift certificate to a masseuse. Practical gifts not only minimize waste but also contribute to a clutter-free, intentional lifestyle. A practical or useful gift usually solves a problem for them. Listen to them and see what's going on in their lives. A gift that helps them out significantly shows that you really care about their struggles and listen to them when they speak.

Steer Clear of Seasonal Trends

While trendy holiday items may seem appealing, they often end up collecting dust or contributing to environmental waste. If your person LOVES The Grinch then try to find something handmade by a local business or secondhand versus something mass-produced by a large corporation with zero environmental responsibility. If you can, opt for timeless gifts that hold their value and bring joy beyond the holiday season. Choosing items that last and won't be tossed (in a box or trash) at the end of the season reduces the impact on landfills and therefore the environment. Plus most people don't really enjoy cheap tacky seasonal gizmos.

Shop Local Small Businesses

Crowded malls? Yuck. No thanks. Venture beyond big shopping plazas and discover the treasures hidden in local small businesses. Many local businesses carry products from vendors in the area that are masters of their craft. Shopping locally not only supports entrepreneurs and artisans but also brings a unique story to each gift. Here's one way it might go down. You want a cutting board for a friend who just started culinary school. Buy one from a local woodworker and they can tell you all about the types of wood they use and how the wood they buy is from a small logging business up the road. They will tell you all the tips on how to make that board last year and years and the labor of love that went into making it. Or, you can hop over to a box store and grab any ole board. No story.. no community support.. no appreciation... no thanks. By shopping small you are directly impacting your own community in a positive way and helping support your neighbors in pursuing their passions. As a small business owner, we thank you for choosing small & local!

Second-Hand isn't Second Rate

For some reason, people tend to look down on second-hand items or thrifted finds. I'm not sure why. Shopping second-hand gives life to a pre-loved item that otherwise would've been tossed in a landfill. It promotes a circular economy and saves you money too. Vintage items are actually well sought after and tell stories of the past which create a unique aspect to any gift. You can also find thrifted good to fix, or add to in order to make an even cooler gift! Maybe someone in your life just got a new apartment and they love to read so you could fix up an old bookshelf to help them create a cozy reading nook.

Handmade with Love

Whether you're just a very crafty and skilled person or handmade is more within your means, it's a great way to show the love and time you put into your gift. Handmade can also extend to gifting your time, or expertise. You could say hey, let me mend all your torn clothing this year. Or, you could say "Hey, I didn't know what to get you for the holiday so I thought I could bring over my power tools and help you finish up the new bathroom you're installing." I would only recommend doing this if you know the person very well and know they would respond honestly and not out of obligation to not make anyone feel bad/awkward. One year I was gifted snow tires! The person knew I had an order in and they paid the bill for me and said "Merry Christmas". Another year I expressed how I wanted fewer material things because I felt overwhelmed by it all and instead of an object my Dad paid my electric bill for the month. Other handmade gifts could include a coupon for a "forgot my lunch" delivery to their place of employment, or jars of all their favorite foods preserved from your garden.

Warm Hearts, not the Planet

This holiday season, let's redefine the art of gift-giving. Choose gifts that are thoughtful, have meaning, and tell stories. Avoid pre-packaged quick-buy gifts covered in single-use plastics and opt for a DIY gift basket of all your friend's favorite things from local makers. It is possible to have a sustainable holiday season, even if it isn't what is traditional to you. Sometimes the norm shouldn't be the norm. Branch out and make earth-friendly choices this holiday season and the next and the next. What sustainable gift ideas are in your future?

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