A wannabe non-consumer’s guide to gift giving 2016:

It’s that time of year again where most of the nation goes crazy holiday shopping. I’ve been there. My family almost always gave store bought gifts when I was growing up, and I was one of those people in the mall every December trying to find last minute gifts for relatives and friends. Now-a-days I tend to keep my Decembers as stress and consumerism free as possible by doing my gift giving in one of these 4 ways:

  • Buy all year round

This might sound like I’m encouraging consumerism, which I technically am, but only from secondhand stores OR from local artisans. Buying from small stores in your area not only supports small business, but it also keeps money in your community, which is awesome!

Because I tend to have a limited number of places to shop, I look for gifts all year round, not just in December. The stock in secondhand shops changes often, so looking more than once means I’m always finding something new. And small shops, especially shops where the owner has made their own products, tend to have a limited amount of back stock, if they have any at all. Because of this, waiting to buy could mean missing out on the perfect present you spotted.


To make sure I don’t lose or forget about any of the gifts I buy, I keep a box in my closet and slowly fill it throughout the year with presents that I find for people’s birthdays or for Christmas. Once a gift giving event comes around I can easily go through my box to find the right item. As you can see, I sometimes even pack up the presents ahead of time so that I can just slip them in the mail once the time comes.

  • Look in your own house

If you look closely in the box you’ll see many secondhand items, a couple locally made ones, and then I even have a couple I found in my own closet. Looking through what you already have and choosing items you still find cute but rarely use is a great way to find gifts.


For example, that black bag was given to me years ago, and after using it faithfully for many seasons, I’ve found a new black bag to love. So, its going to my sister who saw me wearing the bag a couple months ago and gushed about it, so guess who’s getting it for Christmas!

And this is where you say, “Gasp, but isn’t re-gifting rude?”.


Re-gifting items you’ve been given but you don’t really use or no longer need can be seen as uncouth by some (though I would almost bet that marketing from corporations who would lose money if we all started re-gifting instead of buying new is to blame for that), but I would be much more upset if the item I gave to someone was being stored in the back of a closet completely unused or was thrown away because the owner didn’t love it like I thought they would.

  • Make something

If you happen to be crafty now’s the time to use that skill!


I happen to know how to knit, so my go to gift is often a knitted hat.  But whatever your trade, whether it be making soap, pottery, clothing, candles, furniture, food, or all of the above, use those skills and give homemade. No matter what you end up making the recipient is sure to love the thought and time a homemade gift takes.

If you don’t happen to have a knack for making, buy or barter with your crafty friends.

  • Give an experience

This one is the trickiest for me because you have to really know that person to know what type of experience they would actually enjoy and find time for. But that is exactly what makes it one of the most personal gifts you can give.


One of the best known ways to give an experience would be to buy tickets for a show, play, or concert. But there are tons of ways to make someone’s day memorable. In the past, I’ve written little notes and hidden them around the recipients house as a little reminder that I’m thinking of them all day. Other options are to plan a day trip with their friends, take them out to a museum or gallery, or plan a day out in your neighboring town. Experiences don’t have to be expensive, they just have to be thoughtful.


If you do decide to go with a physical gift, make sure to skip the conventional wrapping paper (which just ends up in the landfill) and opt for more eco-friendly options. I usually have to mail my gifts so I go for reused boxes and packing paper. If I’m going to be giving the gift in person, my go to is some yarn and newspaper, but using pieces of fabric and twine or reusable cloth gift bags are also good options.


One thought on “A wannabe non-consumer’s guide to gift giving 2016:

  1. Hello, nice blog, I been living a zero waste lifestyle since February 2015 we have almost begun at the same time. I was 38 years old when all started and is weird that someone of my age decides to do something like this.
    I invite you to visit my website http://www.intraterrestre.org it is under construction but will be ready this coming week.

    Cheers fellow zero-waster


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