Chanukkah is coming… and so are the holiday sales!
I love getting gifts, but I hate getting things I can’t use. I also hate getting things that I don’t need and that clutter up my house.
Look, cash is king, it’s always the right size and color and fits in with everything but sometimes you just need to give a gift.
So this year, consider switching to gifts that are less wasteful, and more useful.
Here are my top tips for Zero Waste (Low Waste) Gift Ideas
Gift Cards/Gift Certificates
These are good alternatives to giving cash except it’s nice because it is something physical. It’s also great because you can pick a specific store you know that your friend or family member would like. Oftentimes you can personalize them for the occasion you’re giving the gift for.
For Gift cards and certificates you can also think small and think local. Give your friend a gift certificate to a local spa or with a local masseuse, alternative health practitioner, or even a personal organizer! This is especially useful if you know the gift receipt already works with a certain provider. For example, I’ve had some friends of clients buy them time with me, it works out great for small businesses and really is a gift they want.
If you aren’t sure what people want a gift card to Amazon, or for a subscription they already subscribe to like a streaming service is always a welcomed gift!
Memories are made by doing things, not collecting stuff. Give your family a gift that keeps on giving. Membership to a museum, a local theater, a gym (if you know they want that, or else you may be insulting them), a zoo, botanical gardens, or other local attractions. Usually, these memberships have reciprocal memberships, so they are good not only for the location you buy them for but also for their sister locations. Oftentimes they also offer additional discounts on parking, guests, special events, food, and shops for members.
Personally, though, I think the best membership is the Journey to Organization membership – it’s the one that can help you declutter and organize all your stuff! You can get it for yourself or a friend.
Here’s how it works – once you buy the membership you register for the class times that work for you. You get an email confirmation with the zoom link. Log onto the zoom session and we declutter together in real time! It’s super fun, and super productive, join today! (Use code SAVE10 to save $10 on your first month!)
The gift that keeps on giving! Subscriptions are a really fun practical gift. You can usually choose how long a subscription you would like to give and the recipient can choose to extend it if they wish. Things like a streaming service for music, audiobooks (like Audible), or this amazing thrift clothing subscription service called A curated thrift. https://acuratedthrift.cratejoy.com/ . If you’re looking for physical options, you can try, wine, socks, or books of the month clubs.
Sometimes you need to give an actual gift, like when you show up at someone’s home. In that case, wine or alcohol can be a nice option, but since not everyone drinks (raising my hand here!) it’s not always the best gift.
Homemade food gifts (or store-bought if you are low on time, or if kashrut is an issue) can be lovely but food allergies can often be an issue so do some checking before you invest a lot into this.
A fruit platter or candy basket are beautiful options, especially if it’s whole fruit, but these can often come with a lot of packaging that isn’t recyclable so check before you buy.
Plants (versus cut flowers) are also a great gift as they can beautify a home for a long time, especially if they are low maintenance. I love when people bring me plants, every time I water it makes me think happy thoughts of that person. It’s a chance for me to send them love and light! Check out this guide from Martha Stewart and this fun book (Little Book of House Plants and Other Greenery Hardcover – by Emma Sibley on plants to give along with it (when possible you can give second-hand books in great condition).
If you’re giving gifts for kids consider giving refurbished electronics – this is great for things like kindle, AirPods, or a phone. I know kids want the best and newest technology but let’s be real, they often break them or lose them and so secondhand is an economical way to get them the tech they need but also not break the bank. Amazon Warehouse is a great way to find refurbished items that still have warranties.
For kids – secondhand is also great for books, clothing, and toys. You can pick up amazing things at second-hand shops, through swaps with friends, or online.
Friends and Family
Buying second-hand for a friend isn’t usually considered in good taste, (something I think should change!) unless it’s something that you can only buy second-hand, like a vintage record, dress, scarf, book, watch, etc. In those cases, if you know they will love it and use it – get it. (If possible get a gift receipt or if you are unsure, get them a gift certificate to the shop you saw the item in!)
If you need to buy something new, consider getting staple items, like socks, underwear, and PJs. Personally, the Smartwool brand is a favorite in our house. It’s a bit pricey, but it’s ethically made and lasts so much longer than other socks and underwear. We also like Pact, Vegan Outfitters, Patagonia, and wool&.
Of course, buying Organized Jewish Life and the Organized Jewish Life Shabbat and Holiday Planner by Rebekah Chaifetz Saltzman (hey! That’s me!) always makes a great gift! Don’t believe me, check out what Annette wrote me about it:
I am in awe of your ability to break things down rationally and then serve them up in a simple and logical format. After more than 60 years as a Jewish homemaker, I still found the book edifying and plan to use it pre-Pesach, etc to simplify life.
Tips on Gift Giving
No matter what gift you give, zero waste or not, give a gift that comes from the heart.
Think about the person you are giving to and what they love. Giving them something they don’t need or want doesn’t help either one of you.
When possible give a gift receipt.
For more on wrapping gifts click here.
Ready to learn more about how to implement zero waste in your home? Join the Journey to Organization membership and work with me to reduce your clutter and your waste.