Now that Halloween is safely behind us, the advertising hamster wheel has spun to the winter holidays. Tinny music wafts through stores, red and green decor takes center stage, and glittery cards and baubles stock displays. Whatever holiday you choose to celebrate this time of year, there’s an aggressive marketing campaign directed at you.

In this commodified season, more is more seems to be the motto. In all this consumer focused messaging, it’s easy to get caught up in the hype and to lose focus on why we exchange gifts. At the end of the day, gifting is one of the five love languages. It’s an opportunity to show affection and regard for another person. Not all gifts cost money or are tangible things. In this holiday gift guide, I’ll be offering suggestions for all the people to whom you might want to show a little extra love this holiday season. 



Experiential Gifts:

Rather than wrapping up another item, giving an experience offers the opportunity to share precious time together and create a memory. The process of brainstorming what experience might be meaningful or fun for the recipient and planning the experience shows affection and attention to detail. If you are interested in giving an experiential gift for a loved one to enjoy or an experience for you to share with a loved one, here are a few ideas:

**Tickets to an art exhibition, play, or concert.
**A lesson or class subscription
**A gift card for a favorite restaurant or cafe
**National park pass (or state park pass if this is appropriate in your state)
**A subscription to an online news provider
**Streaming services
**Membership to an art museum
**Make a charitable donation in the name of a loved one. Giving to an organization doing work important to your recipient can be a meaningful way to show love while contributing to social and environmental causes.

Experiential Gifts:

Rather than wrapping up another item, giving an experience offers the opportunity to share precious time together and create a memory. The process of brainstorming what experience might be meaningful or fun for the recipient and planning the experience shows affection and attention to detail. If you are interested in giving an experiential gift for a loved one to enjoy or an experience for you to share with a loved one, here are a few ideas:

**Tickets to an art exhibition, play, or concert.
**A lesson or class subscription
**A gift card for a favorite restaurant or cafe
**National park pass (or state park pass if this is appropriate in your state)


**A subscription to an online news provider
**Streaming services
**Membership to an art museum
**Make a charitable donation in the name of a loved one. Giving to an organization doing work important to your recipient can be a meaningful way to show love while contributing to social and environmental causes.

Tangible Gifts

Giving physical gifts is an ancient practice, which can convey admiration, regard, and affection. The value of a gift lies not in the market value of the items, but in the thoughtfulness and consideration with which they are given. When deciding what to give, I recommend thinking local, secondhand, regifted, or handmade..

Shop Local:
When purchasing tangible gifts, I  strive to support locally owned businesses as much as possible. I won’t link to or recommend specific brands or stores. See what you can find in your city.  Shopping locally supports members of your community and keeps your dollars in the area where you live. 

Secondhand:
Let’s normalize secondhand and thrifted gifts. A preloved gift is no less thoughtful or useful than an item with a much larger environmental footprint. Thrift shopping for gifts allows you to find more unique items which might suit your recipient’s specific taste. You might find  a fun vintage sweater for your sibling or a cute home decor piece for a friend who recently moved. Preloved items come with a lower environmental and social footprint, which is a little gift to Mother Earth.  

Regifting:
There is absolutely nothing wrong with regifting. Using what you already have cuts down on waste and helps to make the holidays more affordable. We all do it, so we may as well normalize it!

Handmade:
Handmade gifts can be an expression of love. Even if you don’t have a craft that you regularly pursue, the holidays can be a great time to tap into your creative side. The act of making a gift for another gives you time and space to meditate on the recipient of the gift. Not all homemade gifts need to be elaborate. Simplest, and sometimes  best of all, a  handwritten card can share your love and appreciation for someone in your life! The act of giving serves to show love; it isn’t really about keeping up appearances.

Of course, this is a busy time of year for many, and you may not have the energy or bandwidth for crafting. Shopping for handmade items is also a wonderful way to gift usable and beautiful pieces. Seeking out artists and craftspeople in your area or online allows  you to purchase one of a kind items while supporting independent artists and creators.

Consumables:

Consumable gifts are used, enjoyed, and gone. In some ways, this is the ideal holiday gift!

**Coffee or tea
**Chocolates, fresh fruit, or other treats
**Gourmet mustard, sauces, salad dressings, or other condiments
**Environmentally friendly soaps, lotions, and other “spa” products.
**Homemade baked goods or treats
**If you have the time and energy to let your creative side out, you might try your hand at making sugar scrubs, cookies, baking mixes, or any number of crafts as a gift for your friends this holiday season. The possibilities are endless.

Sustainable Swaps:

Certain single use items may be replaced with items which can be used time and time again. For those people in your life who want to make these swaps but balk at the initial investment cost, these can make wonderful gifts. You know that these items can be used and enjoyed on a daily basis, which always feels good.

**Reusable straws (try to find a set which comes with a brush so your recipient can keep the straws clean)
**Waxed cloth wraps
**Storage containers for food
**Silicon storage bags for food
**Reusable water bottle or travel mug
**Reusable produce bags
**Silicone baking mats

House and Home:

For the most part, people spend more time indoors as temperatures drop. This can be the perfect time of year to add a little hygge to the homes of the people you love. 

**Blankets and pillows
**Secondhand books, including cookbooks, art books, or literature.
**Serving dishes, thrifted or handmade mugs, or cookware
**Safe and sustainable candles, oils, or incense
**Decor items (this may depend on your familiarity with your recipient’s personal taste and your comfort in buying for them)
**Handmade art items, including pottery, mugs, paintings, prints, tapestries, etc.
**Table runners, table cloths, cloth napkins, placemats,  and other reusable home textiles
**French press, pour over cone, or other coffee brewing equipment

Just Because:

**Gardening tools including plant pots
**Plants
**A thoughtful and heartfelt letter
**Stationary for writing letters or a journal
**Clothing or accessories
**Photos or other personal memory items

Gift Wrapping:

This is by no means an exhaustive list, just a jumping off point to explore the winter season gifting. Now that you’ve made, shopped, upcycled, or found the perfect gift items, let’s talk wrapping. Nothing is more of a bummer than using wrapping paper once, filling a trash bag with it, and tossing it away. Here are some alternatives:

**Present gifts in reusable bags, which can become part of the gift.
**Reuse paper gift bags, tissue paper, or wrapping paper if you can.
**Wrap in brown packing paper or newspaper
**Wrap in cloth. This might include bandanas, cloth napkins or handkerchiefs,  or even a table cloth
**Forget about wrapping and just throw it all in a box you have lying around.
**If you really love beautiful wrapping paper, try to find brands that are more eco conscious and recyclable.

I hope this list helps you to jump into the holiday season in a way that feels sustainable for you and the planet.

Eleni Georgiadis

Eleni Georgiadis is a classically trained horn player currently residing in Kentucky. Outside of music, she enjoys knitting, sewing, composting, kombucha brewing, and spending time outdoors. She is thrilled to have the opportunity to share her thoughts about sustainability and inclusivity in fashion, weaving together her technical knowledge, passion, and research.