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12 Days of Wild: The Gift of Giving this Christmas

Emma Nord gives some ideas for a sustainable gift-giving this Christmas to decrease waste.

One of many things to do in December is to give gifts to loved ones. However, it is one of the most wasteful seasons of the year. UK households are throwing away about three and a half bags of Christmas packaging every year.

Christmas trees. Image credit: Emma Nord

All I want for Christmas is… What? What do you want?!

Gift giving can be a tricky business. For many, this season - supposed to be filled with cosy comforts and reflection on the passing year - is stressful. Whether financial, emotional or even the knowledge that all the excessive gift shopping and wrapping paper are very harmful for the environment, there is no doubt that Christmas can be chaotic.

Studies show that about 300 000 tonnes of cardboard and cards and 125 000 tonnes of plastic packaging are discarded every year in the UK. This is the consequence of a habit we simply must rid ourselves of. Therefore, it is important to aim to give presents that are kind both to the receiver and the planet, ensuring we are more mindful about the sustainability of our gifting in the festive season.

Charity shops

Aiming for a preloved item is a good idea. Browse in your local charity shop and maybe you will find the perfect vinyl for a music-loving uncle, or a novel for your bookish friend! And, if shopping in person isn’t accessible for you, some charity shops now have an online store!


While on the topic of second hand gifts, try finding second hand clothing to give. The fashion industry is the second most water intensive industry and emits 2-8% of carbon dioxide. With the rise of fast fashion and consumers buying more clothes and discarding them faster than ever before, the fashion industry is a major threat to the environment. Trying to buy from sustainable brands with the environment in mind or buying second hand, is a wonderful way to be more mindful about your fashion gifting this Christmas.

The wintertime is a cold one here in the UK; an extra jumper can keep you warm outside and inside, as well as allowing you to lower the temperature inside your home, saving energy at the same time!


Making your own gifts is both creative and fun! There is a multitude of ideas for handmade presents you can make for a loved one this year, some examples are:

1. Printed and framed photos make for a lovely sentimental gift. You could even take your loved one for a professional photoshoot together! A fun activity for the both of you.

2. Make your own lotion and use a jar found in a charity shop to fill.

3. Another idea is to make your own scrunchie for your fashionable friend. This could be a calming project for you to do on a chilly evening, listening to Michael Bublé on the stereo.

4. Baking your own treats can be a thoughtful gift for anyone with plenty of vegan recipes available online. Decorate and display in a pretty jar for a beautiful and sweet gift!

Homemade gingerbread biscuits. Image credit: Dari lli on Unsplash

Donation to your favourite charity

Something I always appreciate is a donation to a charity close to my heart. You know it will be well received and never under appreciated. Charities such as WWF, Oxfam, Woodland Trust or Save the Children all do amazing and admirable work that could bring joy in threefold.

Time together

Give the gift of time, do something together! Making time for a loved one and spending time creating warm memories is a really valuable gift and can be really meaningful to someone.

There are so many museums, art galleries and sights to explore. Locally to me, here in York, you can go pottery painting so perhaps try investigating if your city has something similar.

Another thoughtful idea is to look at upcoming concerts for both of your favourite artists and give tickets for you to go together.

To wrap it up

Try to use brown paper that is recyclable. Most wrapping paper ends up in the waste bin, but brown paper can be recycled. To decorate it you can use stamps, your own drawings or maybe flower pressings from your garden.

Another idea to spice up your wrapping is to add a rhyme. In Sweden where I come from, we have the tradition of rhyming to the gift inside. Say if you are giving a book, then the rhyme should match that. Father, sitting in your cosy nook, you can now enjoy your…Try it together for a guaranteed laugh!

Presents wrapped in recyclable brown paper. Image credit: Nathan Lemon on Unsplash

It can be stressful each year to find something marvellous to give your near and dear ones, but always remember that above all else, what matters is the thought behind the gifts, and the love you spread this Christmas.

Wishing you a peaceful holiday with lots of love.

See you in the new year!

About the author: Emma Nord is from Sweden but is currently a student at University of York, doing a MSc in Environmental Science and Management. Her interests are conservation, ecosystems and nature based solutions. When she is not reading or writing she enjoys going for long hikes, ballroom dancing and wild swimming.


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