• Judith Newton

Have you started your Christmas gift list yet?

Hello there, are you still putting your head in the sand about Christmas? Well, it's now 9 weeks away until the big day ... just saying! In our first two Christmas blogs, we talked about some gift ideas like making your own gift certificates and the four gift rule. In case you missed them, check out my blogs at www.anethicallife.com.au. This week we're going to look at some alternate gift ideas that are kind to the planet, kind to people and kind to your wallet!

Gifts that keep giving

I'm sure everyone has someone in their lives that's hard to buy for. It seems like they have everything they need and trying to find something to buy them becomes an impossible task. Well, have you thought about these ideas?

1. Oxfam Unwrapped - Gifts that do Good! Ever wanted to buy your brother a goat? What about a chicken or a cow? Well, Oxfam has a gift-giving service where you can buy a card that shows the recipient what you've purchased to help someone in need. What a great idea - you get to give a gift that will actually make a difference in someone's life. Their cards start at $10. Check them out at https://unwrapped.oxfam.org.au/all-gifts

2. Destiny Rescue work to free children that have been trafficked or trapped in sexual exploitation. I know, it's hard to think about horrible things like this but sadly, more often than not, these crimes are happening to innocent, beautiful children who deserve nothing more in life than love, peace and freedom. Destiny Rescue has an online jewellery store where you can buy beautiful jewellery, with the proceeds going to provide critical funding to rescue children from sexual slavery. Here's a link to their online store and while you're there, have a look at the work they are doing to help these kids. https://www.destinyrescueshop.org.au/

3. Kamay Krafts. Over 100 women from poor and depressed areas of Manila have started up a profit-sharing co-operative, where they recycle plastic drink containers like poppers and make them into funky handbags and wallets. For some of the women, this is the only money they have to raise their families. Take a look at some of the products they make here https://kamaykraftscoop.org/ and you can message them on Facebook to find out where the suppliers are in your area.

Gifts that help others

4. Operation Christmas Child. Samaritan's Purse has been filling shoeboxes with goodies to give to children in need for more Christmases than I can remember. Not every child has a Christmas Day full of over-indulgent presents and food. By filling a simple shoebox with things like something to wear, something to play with, something for school, something to love, something special, and some personal hygiene items you can help transform the lives of these children and make their Christmas Day a very special one indeed! Visit https://www.samaritanspurse.org.au/what-we-do/operation-christmas-child/ for more information.

5. Giving of yourself. Don't ever be restricted by the fact that you don't have much money so you can't possibly give anything. The things you do have are yourself and your time and that makes a wonderful gift! Consider volunteering your time on a food van for homeless people or perhaps helping out with serving dinner on Christmas Day. Or why not spread Random Acts of Kindness wherever you go like picking up rubbish on your local beach, leaving a plate of biscuits for an elderly neighbour or letting someone go ahead of you in the supermarket queue. It's amazing how simple gestures like this can make someone's day. Another one of my favourite ideas is to pay it forward. I love this because although you don't get to see the outcome of your giving you know that you've probably made someone very happy. Try paying forward a cup of coffee next time when you're at your local coffee shop or what about paying $5 off the next person's petrol bill at the service station? Little things mean a lot! Here's a link to the Random Acts of Kindness website to give you some more ideas about spreading kindness throughout your day https://www.randomactsofkindness.org/

Ethical gifts

Sadly a lot of the gift items you buy in department stores tend to be over-packaged, which isn't good for our environment. I very much believe in shopping with small local retailers, whether they have a physical or online presence. I also love buying items at local markets as there are always interesting things that you can't usually find elsewhere.

6. Plants. I love plants. They are a living thing that keeps on living long after the gift has been given. You can either visit your local nursery to buy your plants or perhaps grow your own from cuttings or seeds. Pop them in a pretty pot or a teacup from the op shop perhaps, and you have a wonderful gift to give. Also, think about creating a table-top herb garden or perhaps hanging up some herbs with colour string. They look fantastic and make it so easy to grab some herbs for your next culinary creation.

7. Environmentally-friendly 'on the go' goods. Everyone is busy these days - working, travelling, doing stuff - so why not make their lives a little easier and give the planet a present too by buying them reusable items like keep cups for their coffee, water bottles, stainless steel straws and cutlery sets. Google eco products online to find your nearest supplier.

8. Gift certificates - local businesses or workshops. Another great idea is to buy gift certificates for products and services from local retailers near where your gift recipient lives or why not buy them a gift certificate to a workshop that interests them? Perhaps they've always wanted to learn to make their own pasta? Their own soap or make their own jewellery? Have a look at the We Teach Me website for some great ideas (https://weteachme.com). If you're interested in all things resin and live in the South East Queensland region, then I'd recommend you visit my friend at Uniquely Deborah as she runs some fabulous workshops from her home in Sandgate. But I do warn you, as Deborah says, once you start resin it can become incredibly addictive!

All wrapped up!

I remember when I was a child as soon as we'd opened up our Christmas gifts, my grandmother would be there busily folding the paper up into neat squares so it could be reused next year. A quick warm iron on the paper before you used it and it was almost as good as new! Somehow in this age of replacing everything, these ideas have been lost but it doesn't mean we can't start doing it again, does it? Here are some other ideas to help you with your environmentally-friendly, low cost, and unique gift wrapping.

10. Use random leftover pieces of material to wrap gifts. If you can sew, then hem the material neatly and it could be used for a napkin or a scarf. You could also sew your material into drawstring bags to hold your gifts. That way your wrapping lives on as library bags, lingerie bags, eco straw bags - everyone is winning!

11. Use old, clean scarves from the op shop to wrap your gifts. Some of the shops like Lush already offer this type of wrapping service for a small fee, when you buy their products for gifts.

12. While you're at the op shop have a look around for old tourist maps, glossy magazines, and musical scores to use as wrapping paper.

13. In fact, op shops are a wonderful place to find lovely pieces of ribbon and lace to tie up your presents as well as old broaches and hair clips that you could use for decorations on your presents.

14. Another nice way to decorate your gifts is to include a little sprig of a herb like rosemary to give it a fragrant, festive feel. Pine cones or seashells that you collect throughout the year also make lovely decorations.

15. I bet if you have a look around your own home you'll find lots of interesting bits and pieces you've collected over time, that could well look very festive on your Christmas presents. Use your imagination, have fun, what have you got to lose?

Well, that's about it for now. I hope you have fun working out ways you can give and wrap your gifts that benefit others in need, our environment and your wallet.

Til next time,

Judith x

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