Christmas is now just around the corner, so with many of us still watching our spending, why not take a look at these Top Ten ideas for an Eco Christmas Gift for your friends and family. Many of the ideas give you a personalised handmade option that costs more in time than money, so if you get started now, you’ll be finished and wrapped for Christmas Day, no problem!
1. Homemade Mini Christmas Cake
Christmas Cake is a classic, and I came across a lovely idea for making Christmas Cakes as gifts. The thought of embarking on baking a big Christmas Cake might be a bit daunting for many, but mini cakes are quicker and easier, and because they’re in individual portions, they’re much more personalised too! Just take any Christmas Cake recipe you have and instead of baking your cake in a normal tin, use baked bean cans or other such tins (just wash them out before use) and they give you the perfect size cake when half or third filled with cake mixture. Once covered in icing and marzipan, they can be decorated with festive items such as red, gold or tartan ribbons, sprigs of holly, cinnamon sticks or even pine cones. Wrapping the cakes in brown paper and tying them up with coloured string or ribbon adds the perfect finishing touch to a delicious homemade gift.
Christmas Cakes do need making in advance, especially if you use brandy or other spirits in your cake mixture, so they can mature. Normally recipes made around 3 weeks in advance still taste just as good as those made earlier, so there’s plenty of time to get baking this weekend. A mini Christmas cake or two also look fantastic in a hamper if you’re looking for a slightly larger gift, or are giving a gift to family groups or friends.
Every girl, and many guys, love to pamper themselves so why not use Christmas as the perfect excuse to indulge? Rather than just plucking any old bath set of body cream set from the shelves of your local supermarket or gift shop, body care products are easy to make green!
There are many brands of beauty products available that offer eco credentials, from Lush who use organic oils and natural ingredients. Other companies such as Green People and Faith in Nature also have ranges of natural products from shampoos to shower gels, whilst Weleda and Neal’s Yard provide little bits of luxury for your friends and family to pamper themselves.
Top things to look out for are paraben free, organic oils and natural extracts, products that are not tested on animals, and packaging that is made from recycled or recyclable materials.
This is the ideal option for the family member or friend that has everything. Charity gifts don’t give your friend anything physical to cherish, but it does give a warm fuzzy feeling and the knowledge that somebody less well off is benefiting from the decision to not splash out on a gift this Christmas.
The range of charity gifts available is wide, from purchasing a goat for a family in Africa through to sponsoring a range of endangered species through WWF. Another option is sponsoring a charity closer to home, such as a local animal home or donating to a hospital fund or hospice.
Whether your loved one is a fan of fiction or non-fiction, there are a few ways to make a book an eco option when shopping for Xmas gifts. Apart from the perhaps obvious choice of giving a book on going green, you could opt for a book that is made from FSC or recycled paper. This helps increase demand for sustainably sourced paper and reduces the impact of the publishing industry.
Another option is choosing a second hand book. Many are in excellent condition and older books not only have a story to tell, but can be classic stories, out of print editions of reference books or may not even have been opened by a previous owner. Second hand books can be found in charity shops, therefore also helping local charities, old book shops, so you’re helping small businesses, on eBay or at a car boot sale where you’re recycling items other people no longer require.
A further option is choosing an e-book, therefore requiring zero paper. However if your friend or family member prefers the feel of a proper book and turning the pages, one of the previous ideas could be the perfect way to treat a green loved one.
A large choice in eco fashion items are perfect for the eco fashionistas in your life. Perhaps you could choose a necklace from a charity shop – many have new items that are fairly traded or you could choose a second hand item. Charity shops can also have a choice of handbags, hats, scarves or even items for your home.
Alternatively, products made from recycled fibres can offer a large choice with a lower carbon footprint. Eco sourced fabrics such as organic cotton and fair priced wool or natural items like alpaca wool socks are available from online stores such as Howies. You’ll need to make sure you order in time for Christmas shipping however.
Whatever you decide to purchase for your friends this year, a gift that is thought of especially for your family members and friends will mean even more.