Buying Christmas presents (or any present) can be a bit of stress, especially if left at the last-ish minute, and/or you have just run out of ideas. I would normally recommend a donation to a charity of your choice, in the name of the gift receiver, but if you think your nearest and dearest are not quite ready to hear you have given out goats/toilets/school uniforms on their behalf, here are some other more or less sustainable/community friendly ideas.
Local Produce: An obvious and easy choice of me as Cyprus has fantastic olive oils. Most of my friends outside the Island have therefore received half a litre or five when I have been visiting. Herbs such as oregano have also been popular, as has anything made of carobe, honey and teas. You can still gift your local friends with a fancier version of community product, for instance a flavoured olive oil, a nice bottle of (organic) wine or that award-winning gin if you are in Finland.
Non-Material Gifts: Because most of us have so much stuff already. Or have at least heard of Kon-Mari and the miracle of tidying. Some of the most thoughtful presents can however be presented on a card and guarantee to make life a little bit easier for the receiver – here are a few:
- Breakfast in a nice cafe (with or without your company)
- First aid course
- A Massage or a refloxogist session: You can also see if you can book somebody to come home. What would be nicer than a massage waiting after a long day at work?
- Cleaner for the house: not the most sexiest of gifts but does somebody really care? It is a HUGE help
- Promise to babysit your friends kids so they can have an evening off. Or their pets.
- Do some extra good with your gift and offer to join a friend who has been taking up exercise whilst you go and walk the dogs at a local shelter: The dogs (and the shelter volunteers) will love you for this, animals are known for the anti-stress effect and everybody gets to have fresh air and a workout!
- A private yoga class for a friend who has been talking about starting yoga but has not taken the step yet. Why not join in yourself?!
- A workshop in arts and crafts or similar: check what the local art schools and community centres have coming up in 2017 and give your friends a chance to try something new!
A Sustainable Alternative: At the risk of sounding a bit hard core, I always try to find a sustainable alternative if I am buying clothes, textiles, candles or stationary. It is relatively easy these days (depending of course where you live – but there is always online!) to find items that are made of sustainable and/or recycled materials, by people who have been paid a proper wage. Alternatively you can check out the items local designers are making: an individual pair of trousers or a quirky t-shirt with a real story behind it always beats a mass production and is likely to last longer as well. Chocolate can be bought fair trade, and you can look for candles that are made out of soy or beeswax, rather than paraffine, and more environmentally friendly (although there is a lot of debate about this so please share your insights on this topic if you want.)
What are your ideas for sustainable presents for Christmas?