Fa-la-la-la-lots of money: holiday retail sales in the U.S. last year surpassed $1 trillion, with each American household spending on average more than $1500 on Christmas gifts.

But the holiday season doesn’t only deck the wallets—it also impacts our environment.

Consider the carbon footprint created by manufacturing and shipping those trillion-dollars worth of products. Then consider how many of the items you receive at Christmas you actually end up using long-term. If you have children, you know how many toys get piled in the closet, forgotten, after the “new” wears off.

But you don’t have to fall into the environmentally-damaging blackhole of Christmas consumerism this year—you can still have yourself a merry little—and sustainable—Christmas!

As we continue our sustainable Christmas series, we’re offering you 5 ideas for sustainable Christmas gifts for everyone on your list!

1. Donate monthly to a favorite organization.

Does your friend or family member have a charity or cause that is meaningful to them? Offer a monthly donation to that organization in your loved one’s name. You can print the donation commitment and include it with a handwritten card to give to your gift recipient.

Organizations benefit the most from committed monthly donations. It allows them to plan their finances accordingly rather than relying on fluxating one-time donations.

Your loved one will be honored by your thoughtful donation, and the nonprofit will have the resources to continue its impactful work—wins for everyone.

Need some ideas? Your local food pantry, Alive Hospice, St. Jude Children’s Hospital and homeless shelters are just a few ideas, but the list and needs are enormous!

2. Give eco-friendly items.

Eartheasy.com offers an entire catalog of great eco-friendly gifts. You can even shop by category, like “For the Chef” or “For the Gardener” or “Stocking Stuffers.”

Reusable coffee cups, cute recycled cotton socks, an organic herb garden kit… we’ll bet you can find something that fits just about anyone’s interests.

3. Support local businesses.

Rather than relying on the big box stores for your gift-giving, consider supporting local businesses. You can give gift certificates for all sorts of services from local entrepreneurs, like:

  • Massages or mani/pedis from a local spa
  • Music lessons
  • Art classes
  • House-cleaning services
  • Local restaurants or farms

If the business doesn’t have certificates, simply offer to pick up the tab. This supports your local community and offers your gift recipient a memorable experience rather than another item that they’ll forget about as quickly as Christmas comes and goes!

At Stoney Creek Farm, we offer gift certificates for our classes and Sustainable Farm Conference.

4. Give the gift of homemade.

For many years now, my go-to Christmas gift has been a basket of homemade canned goods. I have so much fun creating these baskets, and my family and friends love receiving them, sometimes requesting more of their favorite items from years past. I always include green beans, tomatoes, dill, sweet pickles, plus seasonal jams and jellies in them.

It’s a unique gift that you can’t find anywhere else!

Great items for a gift basket include canned goods like jams, jellies or pickles. Love to bake? Homemade bread, rolls, or other desserts are always a crowd-pleaser.

If your gift recipient also enjoys spending time in the kitchen, give them a mix of measured-out dry ingredients for your favorite bread or cookie recipe, packed neatly in a mason jar with a ribbon tied around it.

5. Give the gift of your time.

How about giving the gift of your time this Christmas season?

Create a “coupon book” of helpful services you’ll provide, like mowing the lawn, cleaning the house, making dinner, washing dishes, etc.

This gift is great for school-age children to offer their parents, spouses to offer each other, or for you to offer an elderly friend or relative.


No matter what gifts you choose to give this Christmas, what really matters is spending time with the people we love and celebrating the true meaning of this holiday season. Everything else pales to this.

Keep reading: Throughout the month of December, we’ll be offering more tips and tricks for a sustainable Christmas season!