\n\n‘Tis the season for giving, which means that it’s the season for rampant consumerism. And that’s about as un-eco as you can get. But, it doesn’t mean you have to get all Grinchy - just a little bit of thoughtful planning means you can give gifts that contribute to the world you’d like to live in.\nBuy nothing\nYou do have the option to just...opt-out. Tell people ahead of time that you won’t be doing presents and don’t expect them in return. The ‘nothing’ approach is the most eco - zero consumption! If that sounds too bah-humbug to you, the next-best option might be to organise a Secret Santa, so you’re buying one gift instead of a million. Oh, but you LOVE giving presents? That’s lovely :) Read on! \nMake a list (check it twice)\nThe worst thing you can do is ‘go Christmas shopping’ and then sift around shops letting impulse take you. You’ll end up buying by least resistance - which generally means you’ll end up with items offered by larger chain stores. You’ll probably also overbuy - spending more than you wanted to and coming home with more presents for yourself than for other people. The solution: make a list. Plan what you’d like to give to each person and then research the best, most ethical option. Or if you’re into it, simply ask. Since I can remember, my mum has asked me what I’d like for Christmas and I do the same for others! \nBuy second hand\nThere are already MOUNTAINS of stuff out there just waiting for new homes. Stuff that people will love. The common misconception is that second hand means sub-par. But as an avid thrifter, I can personally vouch for the treasure trove of goodies out there. And buying one thing second-hand means one less thing has been bought new (a win for the environment too!). A feel-good bonus: many second-hand shops are attached to charities, so each purchase also represents a donation. \nNew to thrifting? Check out my ultimate guide here.\nSupport local and ethical businesses \nClever marketing coupled with the busy season can tempt us to purchase everything online or in malls. And whilst this may make last minute shopping easier, it doesn’t do anything for your carbon footprint. Instead, consider supporting local and ethical businesses this holiday season. Even better, they may already be stocked in local stores near you or offer plastic free shipping if you’re in a rush. And I don’t know about you, but I LOVE a good Christmas market and this time of year, they’re on pretty much every single weekend. Not only does supporting local help your community, especially as many small businesses do good within theirs, but it also means you are lessening your environmental impact. Win!\nGive experiences (or things that create experiences)\nScience is clear: experiences make you happier than things. That’s because material goods visibly degrade as time goes on, while our memories of experiences get better. Give a massage voucher, book a night at a local comedy club or hire a karaoke machine. A 2014 study published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology suggested that things that create experiences are great too. Books, art supplies, tools, an instrument or music - all winners. \nMake, bake, create \nYou know how it’s the thought that counts? I’d like to tweak that a bit - it’s the effort that counts. Anything that feels like it has real effort and intention behind it will be treasured. It doesn’t have to be complex - collect old bottles and infuse some delicious olive oil, bake and wrap some of your signature brownies or craft a pretty bookmark.\nAsk what people want\nWhen people want the things you’ve given them, they’ll value and use them - ie. they won’t become waste within days. So um, ask what they’d like - or better yet, really take notice. Then, include exchange cards, and don’t be offended if they make full use of them.\nDon’t buy pets \nLet’s talk puppies: so cute, and also such a big responsibility. Christmas always sees a sharp uptick in pets being abandoned, or surrendered to animal shelters - people get gifted animals they simply can’t take care of, or leave their animals behind when they head away on holiday. Recently a single charity in the UK fielded 5,000 calls in the five days following Christmas, from people wanting to hand over their dogs. \nIf a pet really is on the list this Christmas there are a few must-dos - first, make sure that whoever is getting the animal knows they’re getting an animal. They need to have input into this decision so they can be sure they can offer an animal a home for life. Then, adopt, don’t shop - there are so many wee fluffies waiting for love in the animal shelters, while pet shop pets come with the added worry that you might be supporting puppy farming, or other unethical breeding practices. A hot tip is to give a representative present - a picture of a dog or a cat, and then wait until after the holidays to choose the animal with the recipient. That’s when shelters most need good homes for the huge influx of animals left with them. \nGive to charities \nInstead of 20 small things people don’t need or want, how about one big thing that could change someone’s life? Pooling your gift budget and giving it all to charity could really make a difference - and it’s really delivering on the spirit of Christmas, however you look at it. \nChristmas spirit\nThere’s a lot to love about Christmas (hellooo food!). But, between the mad Christmas rush, last minute work rush and gifting angst, the actual spirit of Christmas can seem lost. The number of times I hear people say “It just doesn’t seem like Christmas this year” is astonishing. But from my experience, stripping the day away of all materialistic expectations means less pressure and more enjoyment. \nYou can choose to opt-out altogether, but if gifting is super important to you, following a few simple steps and making better choices will go a long way to ensuring your Christmas doesn’t cost the earth. Buying eco, ethical or local are good, hardline ways to approach gift buying. They immediately cut out that fast fashion, useless junk and silly throw-away novelty items - all extremely high contributors to our ever-growing landfill problem. So skip the mall these holidays and opt for more environmentally friendly gifting options. Not only are you saving the environment, but you’re also supporting your local community.