Last year, I put together a piece on where to buy ethical Christmas gifts that covered places like Ethical Superstore and the Big Issue Online Shop – retailers where you can buy things to wrap and put under the tree, but which contribute to a good cause or have some serious eco credentials.
This year, I’ve gathered together some ideas for alternative Christmas gifts – things which are still sustainable and/or charitable, but which are a little less material and a little more unusual.
Inspired by the #DontWasteChristmas campaign, here are a few of my favourite ideas for ways to make Christmas a little less ordinary this year.
Give an experience, instead of a ‘thing’
Experience days aren’t all super-expensive hot air balloon trips and Formula 1 race car driving, there are plenty of options for smaller budgets and less dare-devilly experiences too.
I recently went on a Charity Shop Hop through The Indytute, which is one of loads of cool experiences around London that you can gift to your friends and family – alongside disco yoga, static trapeze lessons, craft beer cruises and all kinds of other fun. Check out their under £30 section for some Christmas present inspiration.
It got me thinking about things you can do elsewhere in the country, and of course, you don’t have to book them through a dedicated gift experience site. Some other rad bits I found, for a range of budgets, include:
- Glamping getaways. You could pick a two-night glamping trip for two, at a choice of locations (£99), or, give a voucher for somewhere like Glamping Hub.
- An archery experience for two, in Essex (£18)
- Indoor ice-climbing for one, in Manchester (£40)
- Ghost walks, all over the UK and Ireland – look for one in your local area, because you’ll never be far from a spooky night out. Typically under £10 per person
You could also sign someone up for a heritage or RSPB membership, so that they can visit hundreds of day out destinations throughout the year at their leisure. You can buy a gift English Heritage membership through the main site, or Scottish and Welsh versions at the Visit Britain online shop.
Give I.O.Us for plans and adventures
Some of you at this point will be thinking “Ha! All budgets, right” at the site of the £99 option or the £50 membership thingamajigs. But no sweat. Because you don’t have to spend money to give awesome Christmas gifts – you just need to plan ahead and give a little time.
How often over the course of a year do you try to make plans with a friend and it just doesn’t end up happening? You run into people in the street or they pop up on social media, and you say we must hang out soon! But life gets in the way. This year, make a little extra effort to find the time you mean to set aside, by writing some Christmas I.O.Us.
I.O.Us I’ll be giving this year include:
- A weekend walk in the woods.
- A movie night on the sofa, with supermarket wine.
- A day trip anywhere we can go by bus.
- A picnic in the park. Probably with more supermarket wine.
You could give people vouchers they can call in to have you come round and cook dinner, or to go to a pub quiz, or trawl your local charity shops for goodies. If you’re a keen gardener, maybe you could give an I.O.U for help planning a veg patch or choosing flowers for an outside space. If you’re handy at D.I.Y, you could offer up an hour or two of help with something around the house (and follow it with a well-earned pint.) Whatever you go for, it needn’t cost big bucks.
Give the gift of good deeds
Last up, a call back to my post about the Don’t Waste Christmas campaign. If you want to give something that isn’t another ‘thing’ under the tree, but you’re not sure about experiences and live a hectic life where offering time commitments could end in disappointment, giving charitably is the third bit of inspiration I’ll offer.
What do you give to the man who has everything? Maybe it’s a donation of fruit trees to a family in Uganda that can use them for food and income. For the woman who says she can never decide, perhaps sponsoring a child’s education or the care of an endangered animal might put a smile on her face. You don’t have to spend much, either. Some lower-budget options (from non-religious charities, too) include:
- Unicef, where you can donate 30 books to help kids learn for £10, or enough life-saving salts for 15 children for £6.
- Save The Children will plant 4 tree saplings for £12, or provide a midwife with a birth kit or child with a school kit for the same price.
- Adopt an animal through the World Wildlife Foundation for £3 a month.
- WaterAid have an under £25 section where you can donate taps, toolkits and toilet bases (I know, I know, it’s a glamorous lot)
If you’ve got any other sparks of inspiration for awesome gifts that aren’t the classic socks, bath bombs and DVDs (not that there’s anything wrong with any of those) do let me know in the comments below!