alive logo

The Sustainable Holiday Gift Guide

Inspiration to help you spread the eco-love this season


Whether you have time to DIY or you’re running a packed schedule (the holidays have a tendency to sneak up on even the most prepared among us!), it doesn’t have to be complicated to make your gift-giving thoughtful for both the recipient and the planet.

Choosing local and purpose-driven brands that strive to be kind to our environment or crafting your own unique gifts that sidestep waste are great ways to keep the joy in the season. We’ve rounded up some sustainable gift-giving inspiration for everyone on your list. Check out these ideas.


The natural beauty

Introduce your friends and family to new beauty options that sidestep plastic packaging and limit waste, while being gentle on their bodies. Think natural makeup that comes in eco-friendly paper tubes, package-free beauty bars—such as shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, and moisturizers—or body oils and other products that come with reusable packaging and refillable options.

Another option is to curate a box of sustainable beauty tools, such as natural fibre and bamboo brushes, reusable organic cotton rounds, washable swabs, linen face cloths, loofah or konjac sponges, and a stone gua sha or facial roller.

Alternatively, embrace DIY options; for example, a beautiful glass jar can be made even more gorgeous when filled with a customized mixture of dried botanicals—such as dried camomile, rose petals, lavender, marigold, citrus, rosemary, mint, or lemon balm—to create an all-natural facial steam.


The cook

When it comes to managing an earth-friendly kitchen, limiting packaging, reducing plastic use, and avoiding food waste are three major steps that aren’t always easy.

Help the resident cook on your list to green their cuisine with reusable options, such as beeswax wrap for saving leftovers; bento boxes for waste-free lunches; reusable water bottles and traveller mugs for on-the-go, earth-friendly hydration; mesh produce bags and cloth grocery bags for shopping; or organic cotton terry cloth lettuce bags that not only avoid plastic but also help greens last longer to reduce food waste.

For those who haven’t yet discovered a love of cooking or baking, help show them the way by gifting them with homemade dry soup mix, granola, or healthy cookies presented in a glass jar with a handprinted label and any required cooking instructions.


The cleaner

Help friends and family kick toxic cleaning habits to the curb by getting them started with some sustainable alternatives, such as a natural dish soap block, natural bristle dish brush, refillable natural cleaning spray, natural fibre dish scrubber, and washable paper towel alternatives.

You can also create your own simple cleaning products. Use baking soda, citric acid, essential oils, a little water, and a mould to create your own toilet cleaning fizz bombs—a fun, easy, and wallet-friendly DIY option.

Arrange a mix of these sustainable cleaning items in a box or basket to help empower those on your list to create cleaner, greener homes.


The office worker

Whether they work at home or head into an office every day, bring a little nature and nurture to the desk of someone on your list with eco-friendly options that support ergonomics, organization, and an overall feeling of calm.

Wireless keyboards and mice made of bamboo or sustainable wood can help sidestep plastic, while wooden adjustable laptop stands allow the easy switch between standing or sitting at a desk to help avoid staying sedentary for too long. Wooden or bamboo desk trays and organizers provide both aesthetically pleasing and earth-friendly storage for phones, earbuds, stationery, and more.

A potted plant is a simple yet charming gift that can bring the beauty and relaxing sight of nature to the office and help support focus. Choose plants with helpful herbaceous scents, including sage, rosemary, or lavender, to provide subtle aromatherapy to help quell stress and improve concentration.


The gardener

Give the gardener on your list some eco-friendly tools to make their thumbs extra green. A paper planter maker and ceramic or bamboo markers offer a plastic-free way to ensure plants get a good start and don’t get mixed up before they sprout.

Whether bought or made yourself, insect hotels—which provide welcoming space to butterflies, bees, and other important insects—can help support a healthy garden and are another great gift for any eco-friendly gardener.

Made with one part wildflower seeds to three parts clay and five parts peat-free compost or potting soil, wildflower bombs are easy to make, support vital insect and pollinator populations, and are fun for kids and adults alike. Gift them individually or in a decorative jar.


The stressed one

With hectic schedules, lengthy to-do lists, information overload, and anxiety-inducing pressures all around us, this might seem like everyone on your list.

Give loved ones the gift of calm: introduce them to local, artisanal, and eco-friendly brands by curating a basket or box of serene reprieve, including items such as bath salts, beeswax or soy candles, an essential oil blend for their diffuser, herbal tea, a handmade ceramic mug, and fair trade chocolate.

Using relaxing essential oils—such as lavender, eucalyptus, clary sage, bergamot, vetiver, sandalwood, and cedarwood—can add aromatherapy stress relief power to DIY gifts, such as shower melts, room spray, lotion bars, and candles.


The gracious host

The holiday season brings with it plenty of gatherings and warm welcomes into people’s homes. Show your appreciation for your host and the planet with eco-friendly options such as biodynamic, organic, and sustainable wine; a natural material charcuterie board topped with a plant-based spread; a natural fibre blanket; or a soy or beeswax candle.

Potted plants grown from clippings of your own houseplants can become the gift that keeps on giving—a gift from your home to the home of your host, which they can propagate into more plants as well. Some common houseplants that are easy to propagate include pothos, philodendron, snake plant, spider plant, and string of pearls.

Wrap it up

You’ve found the perfect sustainable gift, but don’t forget the wrapping! To make the presentation as eco-friendly as the present itself, be sure to use natural, uncoated, and glitter-free paper, or wrap using natural fabrics such as linen or cotton. Tie using natural ribbon or string and decorate with foraged greenery, flowers, berries, or dried citrus.

Go tape-free

One advantage of using fabric, string, and ribbon to wrap gifts is that you can skip the tape. However, if paper is all you have, creative folding and wrapping techniques can also allow you to go tapeless—and wow your gift’s recipient in the process!



Hollywood Balancing Act

Hollywood Balancing Act

Drawing on martial arts philosophy, Peter Jang finds mind-body balance in a decade-plus career

Shawn RadcliffeShawn Radcliffe