Once you decide to rethink your gift giving strategy, coming up with practical ideas for gifts that fit your friends, family, and loved ones can be daunting. But it can be very creative, fun, and satisfying as well!
While we cannot tell you what will make the best gift for Aunt Mildred – I recommend the re-potted plant – we have set out to save you the time and angst of mindlessly scrolling through Pinterest and gathered some of our favorite zero waste and DIY gift ideas and holiday tips right here. .
We hope this list will help you reduce your footprint and inspire others to do the same this holiday season!
- Quality time and skill sharing – everyone loves a coupon for a back massage!
- Experiential (like local film festivals, musical events, local cooking, exercise, and art classes, weekend getaways, etc.) HINT: There are a lot of options for streaming / virtually attending these once-crowded events.
- Donations in the recipient’s name to their favorite nonprofit.
- Avoid over-gifting and unwanted gifts – over 60% of Americans admit to receiving at least one unwanted gift during the holidays. This can be avoided by making and sharing gift lists, doing Secret Santa gift exchanges, and/or participating in a gift registry.
- Ditch the wrapping paper – wrapping paper is rarely recyclable. Gifts are perfectly presentable in a box, or just a bit or reusable ribbon, or “shop” for your wrapping paper in your recycling bin – paper grocery bags that are torn, used calendar pages, and newspaper (we like to use the funnies!) make great wrapping paper! HINT: If you love the thrill of opening a wrapped package – we get it – check out the “Wrapping / Shipping” tips below.
- Reusable, long-lasting, zero waste swaps – help a friend or family member on their zero waste journey by gifting some zero waste essentials like jars, containers, bags, etc.
- Consignment and thrift – just because it’s pre-loved doesn’t mean it won’t make an awesome gift! Check out local antique or thrift shops, luxury consignment shops like Rebag or The Real Real, Facebook Marketplace, Thredup, Etsy, etc. for some sweet deals and unique finds.
- Refurbished electronics (like Back Market).
- Refillable products and zero waste subscription services (like Plaine Products, Filaree, Bite, etc.).
- Regift – we’re not above regifting things you think someone else would make more use out of it than you!
RECYCLE & COMPOST
- Biodegradable gifts – things like food (see DIY edible gift ideas below), compostable products (toothbrushes, sponges, loofahs, etc.), bath salts, or potted plants (from a local garden, farm, nursery,) make excellent presents! HINT: Reuse old food jars to grow plants and then decorate or wrap the outside.
- Recycling and/or compost service subscription – support a local service provider AND your friends and family by setting up and financing their first couple months of recycling/compost pick up. Click here to browse local service providers.
- More recycling resources on our Holiday Guide and zerobyfiftymissoula.com.
- Edible/consumable gifts:
- Potpourri – like these stovetop packages, these baked mixtures, or these coffee filter sachets.
- Homemade spa items – bath salts, body butter, candles, lip balm, perfume.
- Home goods – dryer balls, coasters, infused vinegar, beeswax wraps or other zero waste DIYs.
- Family gifts – board game Lazy Susan, Swiss army key ring, unique shelf/rack (here’s 10 ideas!).
- Upcycled art and jewelry
- If you’re unable to make these things yourself, purchase from a local small business, artist, or Montana Etsy seller.
- Reuse your decorations from last year!
- Secondhand (from a thrift store or relative)
- DIY – try your hand at recycled paper snowflakes, plastic bottle snowmen, tin can lanterns, and other repurposed holiday crafts. Be sure to save your homemade decorations for next year!
- Pallet Christmas trees – (HINT: Did you know Home ReSource sells pallets?!)
- Natural and biodegradable – pinecones, dehydrated fruit (HINT: these are insanely easy and can be reused for YEARS), cinnamon sticks, nuts, tree trimmings, stringed popcorn, etc.!
WRAPPING / SHIPPING
- Alternative gift wrap ideas – package gifts in reused bags from years past, reusable bags or boxes, fabric (like these beautiful Furoshiki wraps), repurposed newspaper or paper grocery bags, homemade wrapping paper, or avoid wrapping altogether! Make a plan to start saving for future years.
- Make your own bows.
- Reuse a box, crate, or mailing envelope you already have instead of buying new.
- Reuse bubble wrap or pad fragile gifts with shredded paper, paper bags or newspaper, fabric or yarn, or biodegradable shipping materials (like these)
- Use paper or cellulose packing tape (like this)
OTHER GIFT GUIDES: Because a little internet scavenging can be fun too!