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Christmas is a season of giving and while it can be overwhelming to buy presents for your loved ones, I’ve compiled a list of gifts that are good for the planet and good for mental wellbeing. Don’t spend December window shopping in malls, desperately searching for the ideal gift, but buy intentionally and gift them something that will make a big impact on them and a small impact on the planet. Avoid unnecessary waste and choose conscious gifting instead.

Isaac and I have chosen to buy “experiences” for our family this season. Instead of physical products, we are gifting them new or special experiences. We’ve chosen this as we hope they will treasure the memories for a long time.

I’ve compiled a list of gift ideas to help you get started on choosing a special present. And remember, your presence is the best present!

Gift a Class

Give the Gift of knowledge or skill and provide an opportunity for your loved one to attend a class they have always wanted to. Perhaps they have always wanted to learn a new language, or perhaps they have wanted to learn salsa or attend a yoga class. This is where you can gift them that class or course, something that they will truly enjoy and appreciate.

  • Gymnastics

  • Yoga

  • Surfing

  • Pottery throwing

  • Painting

  • Photography

  • Online course

  • Language class

  • Horse riding

  • Programming

  • Woodworking

  • Meditation

  • Gardening

  • Beekeeping

  • Glass blowing

There are so many choices and you can find a class for absolutely anything! Think of something that your loved one has always wanted to try or something that aligns with their interests and you’ve got a terrific gift! This has little or no environmental impact and contributes to wellbeing as they try something new.

Abigail’s Top Pick: Pottery throwing class

Isaac’s Top Pick: Blacksmithing class

Gift a Subscription

We all have subscriptions which we love and rely on, whether they are digital products, an online service, product or access to a physical place. Gift your loved one something that they will use with a year-long subscription. It could be something they are already using, or something new that they would love. In this case, it may be best to chat to them before you gift it to them, as you want to ensure it will be used well.

  • A year of music or video subscription (eg. Spotify, Netflix, Disney+)

  • Gym membership (eg. swimming, climbing, gymnastics)

  • Magazine subscription

  • Software subscription (eg. Adobe Creative Cloud)

  • App subscription

  • Access to specialised space (eg. music studio, woodworking workshop)

  • Meal kit subscriptions (eg. My Food Bag)

By gifting a subscription, you can be assured that your gift will be thoroughly used and enjoyed throughout the year. The impact on the environment is minimal, but the impact on your loved one’s life is significant and it will be a gift that keeps on giving throughout the year. (Food box subscriptions contain packaging and plastic waste, which is not the best for the environment. However, if your loved one is struggling to find the time to cook and eat healthily, a gesture like this would be highly appreciated.)

Abigail’s Top Pick: Headspace app subscription

Isaac’s Top Pick: Makerspace workshop membership

“Presence > Presents”

Gift an Experience

By gifting an experience, you are giving your loved ones lifelong memories. Some of my favourite gifts ever have been of this type and I’ll cherish the memories forever. Thank you to the person that bought me Adele tickets, to the person that took me on the Mt Everest flight and to the people that gifted us our first NZ Great Walk. The memories of those days and getting to share the experiences with you have made them so precious and unforgettable, so thank you.

The extra special touch for me is getting to experience it together. Perhaps you book a weekend getaway with you sister, a go-kart session with your brother, a massage with your Mum or a sailing day with your Dad. Time is so valuable, so show people you care by gifting an experience. They will love getting to share those memories with you and you’ll both cherish them forever.

Abigail’s Top Pick: Accomodation for a weekend trip

Isaac’s Top Pick: Scuba diving

Gift an Appointment

Another way to gift is to gift an appointment towards your loved ones wellbeing. Perhaps they haven’t had the chance to get their nails done in months or maybe it’s been a stressful year and a spa day is just what they need.

  • Mentoring appointment

  • Coaching appointment (eg. sport, music, wellbeing)

  • Facial or salon visit

  • Manicure and pedicure

Similar to experiences, you could gift an appointment to your loved ones and may even choose to do it together. Remember that everyone has mental health and everyone can benefit from a boost in their wellbeing, especially at the end of a long year.

Abigail’s Top Pick: Full-body massage

Isaac’s Top Pick: Rock climbing coaching

Gift a Digital Product

There is so much available online now, that you’re bound to find something perfect to gift your loved one. Along with subscriptions, you can make a one-off purchase for some digital products.

  • Recipe ebook

  • Fiction/non-fiction ebooks

  • Audio book

  • Workout or nutrition plan

  • One-off app or software purchase

Abigail’s Top Pick: An ebook about mental health (Lost Connections by Johann Hari)

Isaac’s Top Pick: Patreon donation

Gift a Physical Product

If absolutely none of these are right for your loved ones, go ahead and purchase a physical product instead.

Consider products that will contribute to their wellbeing – products which they can use every day to enhance their health, either physically or mentally. Perhaps you could put together a self-care package or contribute to a hobby which brings them joy.

On a day when I was feeling particularly down, I was given the most special care package from my best friend, which really lifted my spirits. I was able to use the products over the next weeks, whenever I was having a rough day. It has been so helpful and was truly a gift that kept on giving.

  • Gratitude Journal (eg. Frank Stationary)

  • Exercise or sport equipment, gear or clothing

  • Consumables (eg. tea from Better Tea, chocolate from Whittakers)

  • Adult colouring book or sketchbook & colouring pencils

  • Plants, succulents or cacti

  • Candles, or other nice smelling things

  • Bath bombs or other care products (eg. Lush)

When considering physical products like this, do your research well. Try to shop local, avoid plastic packaging, consider who made the product and where. It can take a little while to do this research, but remember that you are voting when you spend your dollars, so support businesses that align with your values!

Abigail’s Top Pick: Bath bombs

Isaac’s Top Pick: Aquarium & fish

I hope that this guide help you out and that you’re able to find the perfect gift for your loved one. Feel free to refer back to this guide for upcoming birthdays in 2020 too!


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