10 Sustainable and Thoughtful Gift-Giving Ideas for a Real Kiwi Christmas

The spirit of Christmas brings joy and warmth. Sadly, it also brings with it a surge in financial stress and waste. Christmas can be an environmental nightmare. According to Consumer NZ, 50,000 tonnes of additional waste enter landfills in New Zealand in the weeks surrounding Christmas. “if stacked up in a tower, would stretch 105 times higher than the Sky Tower”.

So why not reconsider our gift-giving way? Why not rewrite the narrative of excess and waste by adopting more thrifty and sustainable practices and a commitment to reducing waste when it comes to present time this Christmas?

From wrapping presents in repurposed materials to choosing handmade, second-hand, upcycled, recycled or experiential gifts, we have the power to make a positive impact on the environment as we exchange gifts the Christmas. In this blog post, we look at budget-friendly and thoughtful gift ideas that can be kind to our wallets as well as the planet.

Wrapping without waste

The Kiwi Christmas tradition of beautifully wrapped presents contributes significantly to landfill waste. So why not just forgo the whole Christmas wrapping paper idea altogether? Instead, wrap gifts with tea towels, cushion covers, old fabric, scarves from second-hand shops, kids’ artwork, maps, or even old posters. The possibilities are endless, and the result is environmentally friendly and charming.

1. Handmade delights

Handmade gifts add a personal touch while reducing the environmental impact associated with mass-produced items. Consider gifting baking, preserves, or infused vinegars using citrus fruits and herbs presented in recycled glass bottles. Turn empty glass bottles into planters for small succulents or herbs. Decorate them with paint or twine or get the kids to paint them for that extra-special personalised touch and then plant them with herbs like basil, mint, or parsley.

2. Experiences over things

Shift the focus from material possessions by giving “experience gifts.” These gifts linger in memory long after physical gifts have faded away and can often have a smaller ecological footprint. Consider taking someone for a picnic, a day at the beach, or gifting vouchers for massages, facials, or even an unconventional trip to the dentist. An annual membership to the zoo, for example, provides a whole year of exploration and family adventures. The ability to pack a picnic lunch and take the children out whenever makes it a very valuable present that truly keeps giving.

3. The gift of adventure

Consider gifting adventure-packed experiences that encourage loved ones to step outside their comfort zones. Activities like cycling, horse riding, fishing, kayaking, jet boating, or white-water rafting not only make for unforgettable days out, but they also support local businesses.

4. Concerts and cultural events

What about tickets to the movies, family-friendly concerts, sculpture trails, festivals or cultural events? This not only supports the arts but also encourages a love for music, performance, or cultural experiences.

5. Second-hand beach reads

Visit local second-hand bookstores or op shops to find popular novels or even magazines. Create a personalised book bundle and wrap them up in a beach towel: perfect for summer.

6. Gift of time

Give the gift of time, a precious commodity in our time-poor society. If you’re handy, offer your skills. Or if you’re not so handy or live far away, you can hire local expertise to complete tasks your loved ones may struggle with, such as gardening, checking the guttering, sorting out the computer, cleaning the oven or washing windows.

7. Declutter for a purpose

Christmas is an excellent opportunity to declutter, especially when it comes to toys or even kitchen appliances that have been forgotten in the depths of cupboards. Items that haven’t seen the light of day can find new life. Re-gifting can be a thoughtful and sustainable practice. So don’t let unwanted gifts languish. Decluttering can give those items a new place and purpose.

8. Op shops: a treasure trove

According to Newshub, three-quarters of Kiwis are choosing to buy second-hand and said they wouldn’t mind receiving a pre-loved gift. Op shops and online marketplaces like Trade Me offer wonderful alternatives to shopping malls. Op shops, with their eclectic mix of pre-loved items, are a wonderful place to unearth treasures. Retro kitchenware like colourful mixing bowls, platters, glasses, jugs, vases or funky utensils make useful gifts and add character to any kitchen or dining table. When it comes to children, second-hand shops frequently carry quality toys such as classic board games or wooden trucks. These pre-loved treasures offer eco-friendly and budget-conscious alternatives and less broken plastic junk means fewer tears on Christmas day.

9. Trade Me: a wonderland of second-hand delights

The number of Kiwis choosing to buy pre-loved gifts on Trade Me this Christmas has almost tripled since 2019. On Trade Me you can find clothes from well-known brands at a fraction of the original price as well as top-quality sports equipment. Trade Me combines the convenience of online shopping with the joy of treasure hunting.

10. Refurbished tech: a smart and sustainable choice

When it comes to fancy new gadgets, it can be hard to resist the newest ones. But, choosing used gadgets that have been fixed up can be a smart move. Websites like GoodTech.co.nz have lots of good choices, and when you buy from them, you’re helping local businesses and not creating any extra waste.

One change, just one change

According to Zero-Waste Network chair Marty Hoffart, one intentional change from every household can collectively make a significant difference in decreasing the mountain of rubbish generated during Christmas. Whether it’s reducing wrapping paper waste, embracing regifting, or opting for experience gifts, each intentional choice contributes to a more sustainable and mindful celebration.

This Christmas, let’s rewrite the narrative of excess and waste by adopting sustainable gift-giving. Here’s to a green and joyous Christmas for all!