For mindful gifting this year why not make your own gifts with love and lessen the load on the planet….
This is such an exceptional time of year, whether you celebrate Christmas, the solstice or just the pure joy of having the time to share food and fun times with your family and loved ones, quite simply it is the season of sharing.
And have you noticed how the spirit of human kindness reaches its highest peaks around this time of year, it seems to be the one time of the year where we all feel more for the people around us? This year, more than ever, we are being called on to tap into our common humanity. So, because it’s about the little things, the Eco Atlas team sat down and brainstormed some thoughtful ideas to #MakeYourOwn gifts, to deepen the meaning of gifting and also lighten our consumer footprint. After all, the greatest gift you can give anyone is your time.
Some tips for you to #MakeYourOwn gifts are to…. visit second-hand stores; you might find inspiration there in glass jars, pillow cases, old tops and books. Also, think of the person you are gifting, his/her likes and dislikes, interests. #MakeYourOwn doesn’t only need the time investment in the actual making, but also the thoughtful process that goes into choosing the right idea, and that there is the love.
1. Bake Off
Instead of buying commercial sweets (with huge amounts of sugar and palm oil), you can make your own. Anything from home-made granola, chocolate or cereal bars, gingerbread or even doggy biscuits! You can store it in glass jars, which you could even decorate. The plus of gingerbread biscuits is that you can even use them as decorations. (Always try to remember any dietary requirements.)
2. Tea Leaves
If herbs are your thing and know how to mix them well, you could make a personalized tea mix, with dried fruit too. You could buy a tea strainer and gift a complete tea set. Rebeka, our friend from Hanoi gave us this idea and she adds home-made labels so you can write your own messages and attach them to the box with a string. If you’re in doubt, pop by Lady Bonin’s shop in Woodstock. The Lady knows tea, really.
3. Shopping Bags
You can never have enough tote bags for shopping – sew it yourself or get a blank one. You can then use textile markers, acrylic or fabric paint or embroidery. If you choose to use acrylic paint a good way to make an even pattern is to make a potato stamp. Cut a potato in half, draw the pattern on it with a pencil and cut around the pattern. (The same kind of stamp can be used for making your own wrapping paper this season!) It’s a very practical, yet cute present and it’s environmentally friendly.
4. Knit It or Crochet It
Use the person’s favourite colours to knit or crochet a mat, coasters, pot holders or oven mittens. These are tutti frutti inspired beauties, perfect for beginners. This idea works for children too, if you use their favourite superhero colours!
5. Tops for Your Fitness Friends
You can use a plain T-shirt to make a fashionable top for workouts for your yoga or gym loving friends. You can keep the T-shirt as it is or cut it to make a different design. There are a lot of videos on how to transform a T-shirt into something new. Once you have the desired cut you can decorate the top, using markers or paint, or cut out pieces of fabric and apply them to the top with fabric glue. (If you don’t feel like decorating them yourselves, you can always look up a carbon-neutral printer, like Hot Ink in Cape Town, and ask them (nicely) to print your design.)
6. Body Products
Make a luxurious body lotion for your friend and attach the recipe, so that they can learn and make it themselves. Another idea is to make a batch of natural toothpaste and add a few compostable toothbrushes, with a note that doesn’t comment on the person’s breath ;)
7. Sourdough Combo
Make your own sourdough starter (look here for inspiration), put it in a jar and attach your favourite bread recipe. It takes 5 days to start your starter, so get ahead with the prep! If bread is your thing, you could add a bread bag, made by transforming an old pillowcase or old sheet into a bag. You could even make two little ones that can be used as sandwich holders. This idea was inspired by a site called Life Without Plastic, check it out.
8. Personalised Journals
There are many ways to personalise notebooks and folders by covering them with some of your friends’ favourite images. You can use the same technique to cover notebooks or journals. You could even make recipe notebooks, following the same technique.
9. Skill Vouchers
Maybe there is something you do that your friend or family member loves too. Anything from icing, decorating, social media tips, make-up tutorial, sewing. The gift is a voucher from you to help them with this skill/passion, ensuring that you will also spend some quality time together. You could give a voucher for anything, a home cooked meal, a massage, some time in their garden.
And now for some ideas especially for children….
10. Advent Calendar
For those who celebrate Christmas there is nothing quite as exciting for children as the count down to that special day of gifting and family sharing. Why not make your own advent calendar for your child, or, even better, make it with them. Some ideas are to create a ladder from the stars and an angel or star could make its way down the ladder each day until it lands in a nest of soft cloud on the last day. Or make an angel or star from soft wool and she can move along stars that you have cut out and stuck on a large piece of card until the final day which could be a painted matchbox with a little thoughtful gift inside. (See the photos for visual descriptions) And if Christmas is not your thing you could use this idea to count down to any special day of significance in your culture, religion or family traditions.
11. A Memory Book
Children love looking at photos and we live in a digital age where we hardly ever print out any photos for them to hold and pore over. A great tradition at this time of year is to choose 10 or 20 of the best photos from your child’s year and make a book of memories for them in a small photo album. (Admittedly there is a lighter footprint if you just look at photos digitally and don’t print them out, but a book of photo memories will have more meaning AND a lighter footprint than most of the imported gifts lining the store shelves!)
12. Your Time
There are loads and loads of ideas for specific gifts you could make with love for your child, here are some great DIY ideas and have a look at these 101 ideas too, they will inspire some wonderful #MakeYourOwn gifts. Ultimately though, if we want to decrease the stuff coming into our homes and live with a lighter footprint then the best gift of all you could give your child this season (and every season) is your TIME. The time to cloud watch, play a card game, read a story, look at photo albums, build a sand castle, bake cookies, dance in the lounge and tell silly jokes til your belly aches. Ask your child what they need to feel loved. I did and the answer was “More hugs, more cuddles and more time with you mommy”. Well there you have it, in a nutshell. Give the gift of time.
Wishing one and all a meaningful season of togetherness, sharing, giving, gifting, fun, compassion and kindness.
This blog was collaboratively written by Rhian Berning, Clotilde Angelucci and we also drew inspiration from Rebeka, from Hanoi, Vietnam who sent us some of her awesome ideas. Thank you Rebeka!