2016 has been the year of environmental awakening: the #zerowaste hashtag, Leonardo DiCaprio’s documentary ‘Before the Flood’ and a rise in popularity for reusable alternatives to disposable household items. It has been a revolution and is only the beginning of something great for our planet and it’s inhabitants. In-keeping with this theme, I’ve put together a list of minimal waste and zero waste items that you can gift as stocking fillers this Christmas if you’re keen to have a more environmentally friendly festive season!
What: A classic Christmas decoration that not only looks lovely but scents your room and home beautifully, too. It’s simple to make and will be a nostalgic and welcome gift for your family and loved ones.
How: Simply grate the skin of an orange in any design you like, poke a few holes with a skewer or toothpick and slot in some cloves. For an optional finishing touch, roll your pomander in ground spices for an extra boost of scent – cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cardamom all work well.
DIY macrame wall hanging:
What: A very popular decorative wall hanging this year and something totally customisable and unique. You can make these as small, large, colourful, neutral, modern or rustic as you like… so it really is the perfect piece for any home!
How: Macrame is simple a series of knots, so there are seemingly endless variations to suit just about anyone. I’d recommend looking on Pinterest and YouTube to find one you love and practice. After a while you’ll soon pick up new techniques and discover new ones for yourself. So play around with it and have fun!
What: Bunting is a classic decoration and something that rings of yesteryear and the ‘good ol’ days’. Traditional gifts are perfect at this time of year when we reflect and meditate on past years in fondness. Echoing the past through gifts and decorations is always welcome at Christmas and this vintage-style crocheted gift will make the perfect stocking filler.
How: There are plenty of crochet and knitting patterns online (again, Pinterest is your best friend here) and all you need to know are the basics.
What: No, not the kind you pull in anticipation of a bad joke and ill-fitting paper crown; these Christmas crackers are the sort that look rustic and delicious in a recycled jam jar tied with a piece of string. Crunchy, tasty and so easy to make, these little guys will look fantastic and go over a treat with your family and friends.
What: A completely elegant gift that’s both beautiful and practical. If you know someone who loves to cook, this is the perfect gift. Make sure to use a clear glass bottle so that the ingredients can be seen and admired.
How: Grab some fresh rosemary, bay, thyme or whole garlic, lemon or chilli and place them in a bottle. Top up with virgin olive oil and you’re away! The longer the herbs and veggies sit in the oil, the more flavour will be produced so if possible let sit for a few weeks before gifting. If this is a last minute gift you can heat the oil in a pot and infuse the flavours for a few minutes before decanting into the bottle. This kick-starts the process and gives a little boost of flavour. Don’t be afraid to get creative with this one… you can add any flavour you like or make a concoction!
What & How: This time of year we’re all about the sweet treats and baking once again becomes our favourite past time. So why not make it a gift, too? After you’ve made your favourite treat – mince pies, peppermint creams, ginger snap biscuits, chocolate chip cookies – wrap them up and place them in a jar or box with a homemade label and personalised tag. There’s nothing better then receiving a gift made with love!
What: Who doesn’t love granola? Buying it pre-made can be expensive (and is often packed with sugars, salt and nasties), but making your own is easy, quick and you can add whatever you like into the mix! Make a festive batch with colourful berries and pecans or ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg to really get into the festive spirit.
How: There are plenty of recipes out there if you look, but here’s a favourite of mine to get you started:
Home made body butter:
How: Simply whip up shea butter and coconut oil (melted in a pot) and stir in your favourite essential oils for a unique and handmade gift that is sure to wow. Chose relaxing lavender or ylang ylang, zingy lemon or or peppermint or go totally festive with frankincense and myrrh. Pop into a glass jar and you’ve got yourself a gift anyone would love!
Aromatherapy oil blend:
What: Speaking of essential oils, an aromatherapy oil blend is the perfect gift for someone who’s always got a candle alight or incense burning. Those friends with a penchant for … this is the gift for them.
How: All you’ll need is a base oil (sweet almond, argan, fractionated coconut, jojoba) and some essential oils for that perfect scent. Mix and match until you find the ideal blend for your lucky friend.
Biodegradable toothbrush and toothpaste:
What & How: If you’ve been reducing your waste, you’ll surely be aware that modern toothbrushes are filling up the landfills and creating a massive amount of waste. Thankfully, there are sustainable and biodegradable options that come in the form of bamboo toothbrushes. Not only are they green, they’re a lot prettier to look at too so whether your gift-receiver is eco-conscious or not, this is a great little stocking filler.
What: Know someone who loves to rock a bold lip or strong brow? How about gifting them homemade makeup?! What better way to wow your friends than to give them totally unique and completely individual blushes?
How: All you’ll need is some arrowroot and a natural pigment of your choice – hibiscus, beetroot and cocoa powders are great for adding depth and a pop of pink!
Stainless steel shaving kit:
What & How: Modern razors are expensive, ugly and so damaging to our environment. Not only this, but they don’t give as close a shave as traditional stainless steel razors either! Don’t see the point in them? No, me neither. That’s why I’m opting for a classic, sleek and recyclable razor and will be gifting them to the men and women in my life.
What & How: Everyone loves a candle and by making your own you’re not only saving on money but you’ll be creating your perfect scent (no more nasty surprises from online candle shopping!). You can even create personalised scents for each of your family and friends. Know someone who loves lavender, citrus, or floral scents? Or someone who always opts for a musky, woody scent? Now you can make them a candle you know they’ll love and they can think of you every time they light it.
What & How: Plants are a great gift but don’t have to be confined to house-warming presents. Fiddle leaf figs, rubber plants and cheese plants have gone full circle since the 70s and are back in style so if you know someone who loves a good trend or just likes to bring the outdoors in, a bit of greenery will be well received this year (plus they provide the home with much needed fresh air and life so are especially great presents for city-dwellers or people who work from home).
What: Scented sachets are so quaint and a real throw back to the age of doilies and arm rest covers. But sewn with a pretty floral fabric and some lace or ribbon, these scented squares can make a beautifully dear stocking filler.
How: Sew together two squares of fabric on all sides but one. Then choose a dried flower (typically lavender or rose) and pop into the sack. Sew up the last edge and you’re ready to decorate how you like – edge with lace, tie with ribbon or add a loop for hanging in the wardrobe.
Reusable coffee cup:
What & How: If you’re journeying on your way to a zero-waste lifestyle or just trying to reduce your footprint, you’ve probably already grabbed yourself a reusable coffee cup. With so many sizes, colours and styles there’s a cup for everyone nowadays so whether you have a friend who loves modern, minimalist style or a family member who likes all things bright and colourful, there is a coffee cup for them, too. And it’s a great way to introduce them to the zero-waste lifestyle!
What & How: Plastic straws are found in almost every household and are filling up landfills and harming sea life. No, straws aren’t necessary but a lot of people still love to use them and aren’t ready to give them up. So, thankfully, there is an alternative… and it’s got an edge! Glass straws are super chic and modern and stainless steel straws are durable and very trendy. Both come either bent or straight and are a total show stopper when it comes to dinner parties or drinks in with friends. They make the perfect gift, too!
DIY flavoured alcohol:
What: Okay, so we’ve yet to touch on one of the most popular gifts of the festive season… alcohol. A great present for dad, best friend or neighbour and this time you can make your very own infusions! A classic sloe gin, chai pear brandy or cherry vanilla bourbon will go down a treat this Christmas and you’ll soon be in everyone’s good books!
How: Add your flavours into a bottle (fruits and spices work best) and top up with your favourite alcohol. Add a personalised label and voila!
Have you made any homemade gifts this year? Are you trying to be more environmentally friendly? Share your stories with us below!