If you’re the type of person who enjoys giving gifts but you’re interested in reducing your eco-footprint, you may have already taken a look through our DIY Eco Christmas Gifts and found some ideas for making gifts that don’t generate much waste or require much financial input. But what about when you’ve been invited to a festive gathering at the last minute? Or you’ve realised in the nick of time that you’ve forgotten an important birthday? Or the present you’d been planning for months didn’t pan out?
Well, that’s what this list is all about.
Here are 18 simple gift ideas that you could pull together in under half an hour, using things you may already have laying around at home.
- Look through your books, magazines, games and puzzles that you’re no longer using, and set aside a pile that would be more use in someone else’s home. Identify which ones might suit the people you’re wanting to gift to. The beauty of this is that you’re (usually) gifting something that you’ve enjoyed yourself, so you’ll have a really good understanding of who they might suit best.
- Regifting!! We’ve all been given something at least once that really wasn’t our favourite cup of tea, but that doesn’t mean they won’t suit someone you know. Check the cupboards for unopened or unused items – at Christmastime you my have received items from a work Kris Kringle perhaps? – and think about who you could regift them to.
Just make sure it’s not going back to the same person who gave it to you!!
- “10 things I love about you”. Grab a piece of paper and write down 10 or more things you like or love about the intended giftee on 10 separate lines. Cut each line out, roll it into a mini scroll and pop them into a little box or jar, and create a sign to go on the lid saying “10 things I love about you”. Attach the sign, pop a nice ribbon around it, and there you have it: a sweet, heartfelt gift that really spreads positive cheer.
- Grab a greeting card (or make your own by cutting the front off an old one and sticking it to the front of a folded piece of card) and write a voucher in it. Maybe it could be for a lunch/dinner date, a picnic in the park, babysitting services, help in the garden… we’ve got more ideas for vouchers here.
- Bring a fun game along for everyone to play. It could be Celebrity Heads, or “two truths & a Lie”, or perhaps if you have a bit of extra time to prepare, you could create a ‘quirky trivia” about the people who will be there!
- Bring a joke book or joke cards. If ever there’s a time to mutual grain and chuckle at some bad jokes, gatherings around a meal with friends and family are it.
- Make a batch of simple cookie dough (like our Swedish Gingerbread thins, or a simple sugar-cookie, perhaps with some spices mixed in) and shape into logs. Pack logs in a sheet of baking paper large enough to cover a cookie tray – tie up like a bon bon with ribbons, and write up the baking instructions to go along with them. For future emergency gifts, make up a large batch of dough, wrap them and keep in the freezer for up to 12 months.
- Cake, muffin, brownies or cookies in a jar. This is basically making someone a baked treat without having to do any of the actual work! Dry ingredients are layered in an airtight jar, a ribbon goes around the top, and instructions (and any extra wet ingredients) either get printed or written on a label or swingtag, or you can just write them up in a card for the recipient. We’ve put together a selection of different recipes and instructions for you to try here, but you can always just adapt your favourite baking recipe and use that.
- Dahl/curry in a jar. If you’ve got dried lentils, onion & garlic powder and a decent range of dried herbs and spices, you can whip up a DIY emergency meal for your giftee. Layering the ingredients like you would a cake or muffin mix and tying a ribbon around the jar makes it an attractive gift. Write up the ingredients and instructions in a card and you’re done! Here’s a good recipe to follow.
- Risotto in a jar. If you’re someone who dehydrates food, you’ll no doubt have lots of ingredients in your pantry which you could combine to create a risotto blend. Think of things like mushroom & leek, pumpkin & sage, or Mediterranean vegetable.
- Make up a quick batch of dukkah, using whatever nuts you have on hand and adding a variety of spices. Dukkah is a great versatile item to have in the kitchen. From dipping bread, to topping pizzas, to grilling meat or roasting veggies and sprinkling over salads: it makes an excellent gift and is quick & easy to throw together. Here’s our recipe.
- Create a spice mix, salt blend, or flavour rub using the dried herbs and spices you have in the pantry. The simplest is a herb and garlic salt blend, which is basically just dried herbs, garlic powder and salt whizzed together in a spice blender (or mortar and pestle). But you can also try things like celery salt, lemon pepper blend, chilli & garlic salt, or have a go at making up Moroccan or Mexican seasoning mix. There are heaps of recipes out there – and if you use a recipe-finder website like Foodwise, you can plug in the ingredients you have and it’ll give you recipe ideas based on that!
- Do a whip around the pantry, find items that you’re unlikely to use in the next 6 months, and put together a mini hamper. Think nice teabags, coffee (beans or ground) in a jar, spice/salt blend (see above), crackers, biscuits, wine, dried fruit, sweets or chocolate. If taking things from packets that may have been opened (obviously make sure they’re fresh), decant into a clean jar and pop a ribbon around the neck to make it look festive and keep fresh.
- Do you make bread? Or biscuits? Or preserves? Or ferments? These sorts of homemade foods are often appreciated, so check your cupboards or the freezer and if you’ve got spare jars or loaves to share, wrap them up in a clean teatowel, or baking paper, or even just add a ribbon.
- Do you have spices? Fruit? Wine? Make a mulled wine kit. All you need to turn one bottle of red wine or cider into a spiced, festive drink is 1 cinnamon quill, 5 green cardamon pods (or about 25 cardamon seeds), 5 whole cloves, a slice of orange and a slice of apple. If you have dried fruit, you can join all the ingredients together in a little bag or jar: if not, just package the spices and add a fresh orange and/or apple for the recipient to slice up.
- Do you have any seedlings that might be appreciated? Grab a pot, chuck some paper or a ribbon around it, and maybe include a little plant marker written on a paddle-pop stick, or a shaved twig.
- How about seeds? Have you got any leftover from this season’s plantings? Or perhaps you’ve got some dried seed heads out in the garden! Either pack up a single type of seed, or maybe make a mixed batch of ‘pollinator attractor’ or ‘salad garden’ seeds. Quickly fold up some mini envelopes from spare paper (kids unwanted artworks are great for this), label them, and you’re off!
- What about garden produce? Do you have excess silverbeet, lemons, fruit, broccoli, kale…. Anything edible that you can’t see yourself using in the next month or so if a great thing to share. Herbs are always a winner too. And flowers! A handpicked posy of homegrown flowers is a lovely gift to receive. Or, if you know the recipient is a keen gardener, you could even take cuttings of plants you think they’d like, or perhaps dig up and pot out some suckers from things like mint, bay tree, wild violet, lemon balm etc. Wrapping is entirely optional of course, but don’t overlook the joy of using old newspapers or baking paper with a bit of twine as a fast, frugal option.
Hopefully that’s given you a few ideas to get you out of a pickle with last-minute eco-friendly gifts. The planet will thank you as much as your friends and family will!!
If you’re keen to see what handmade eco-friendly gifts we have on offer, please head to our Products page here.
Permaculture Principle 1: Observe and interact; 3: Obtain a yield; 5: Use and value renewable resources and services; 6: Produce no waste; 8: Integrate rather than segregate; 10: Use and value diversity; 11: Use edges and value the marginal.