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Sustainable & Affordable Gift Ideas for the Holiday Season (Plus tips for Black Friday Shopping!)

By Tara McKenna

The holiday season is upon us, and this year looks a bit different. We’re facing high inflation and we’re frequently inundated with news of an imminent recession.

So, this year, wallet-conscious shopping is where it’s at. This is an approach that I’ve always endorsed. However, I’ve expressed it from the perspective of conscious shopping with the added benefit of being budget friendly.

Here's a quick overview of Sustainable and Affordable Gift Ideas and Tips for the Holiday Season:
  • My book: Don’t Be Trashy: A Practical Guide to Living with Less Waste and More Joy

  • Shopping from Small and/or Local Businesses

  • Shop Black Friday Sales Sustainably

  • Gift Experiences and Services

Don’t Be Trashy (my book!)

Of course, I had to include my book in a gift guide! Don’t Be Trashy: A Practical Guide to Living with Less Waste and More Joy guides you month by month through a year of reducing waste and pursuing minimalism, covering:

  • Decluttering and turning off the flow of stuff into your home

  • Breaking up with fast fashion and developing a capsule wardrobe

  • Cutting off your supply of single-use plastic in your kitchen, cleaning supplies, and bathroom

  • Investing in home goods that'll last for decades without breaking the bank

  • And more! All in ways that suit your life

One tip I share in my book about gifting is that wish lists are super helpful in navigating the gift giving season avoid giving/receiving unwanted gifts. It may be a bit unconventional for some, but this approach can help reduce the waste of unwanted items while reducing unnecessary spending at the same time (bonus!).

Gift giving is such an important cultural part of our lives; lets gift with intention by giving people what they’ll love, want and use. Consider asking for and sharing wish lists with your loved ones this holiday season!

Shop Local and Support Small Businesses

Right now, small business owners in the retail space are struggling because sales are down significantly. It makes sense that people are watching their wallets because prices for basic needs are constantly increasing, including the cost of food, housing, and transportation.

With so much uncertainty at this time, people are spending their dollars carefully. While we’re at it (being careful where we allocate our money) we can choose to allocate some of our spending towards supporting small and local businesses. They need our support the most right now to stay in business, compared to big box retailers and large grocery store chains that have profited massively during the pandemic, through high inflation and even as a recession looms.

Here are some brands and products to check out for your sustainable gift giving this season:

Shop Black Friday Sales Sustainably

Black Friday has been a contentious topic in the sustainability community over the years. Slogans like “boycott Black Friday” have trended (and is still applicable for some this year), but I think many people in the green community have landed in a place of acceptance that Black Friday still makes sense for many people. Why? Big sales give people a chance to afford items they might not be able to at other times of the year.

As such, go forth and enjoy Black Friday sales and while you’re at it, support ethical and sustainable brands, local shops, and small businesses.

Here are some tips for conscious Black Friday shopping:
  • Create a budget for shopping

  • Shop with a list, and stick to it

  • Avoid unnecessary purchases (like a new TV if yours doesn’t need to be upgraded)

  • Support small businesses

  • Buy from sustainable and ethical brands

  • Shop local

  • Buy what you need

  • Avoid impulse purchases

Gift Experiences and Services

Shopping for tangible things isn’t the only way we can gift to others. We can gift people experiences as well as our own personal services that primarily cost us our time (thus making them more affordable!).

Here are some examples.

  • Date night

  • Movie night

  • Travel

  • Subscriptions (e.g., Netflix, Spotify)

  • Gym membership

  • Classes (cooking, dancing, sewing, etc.)

  • Museum or art gallery membership

  • Conservation area passes

  • Wine tour

  • Brewery tour

  • Concert tickets

  • Theatre tickets

  • Escape room

  • Cleaning

  • Cooking

  • Baking

  • Massage

  • Yard work

  • Babysitting

  • Maintenance

Happy holidays! Hope these tips help you have a more sustainable and affordable holiday season.


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