Green Christmas: Seven Awesome Gifts You can Make

by - Friday, December 04, 2015

We have been talking a lot about Christmas shopping on this blog, and I have pointed to tons of amazing recycled, Made in America, and fair trade gift options, but there is another side of this story. I recognize a lot of these gifts are a little more expensive (the cost of ethical labor), but I don't think you have to break your budget! There are two other things we can all do this Christmas season that help the environment and our budget- buy used and make it ourself!

I can only say so much about buying used- you can always check Amazon for open box options, but the real way to do this is to go to your local consignment shops and see what's there (and while you are out, go buy some gifts from local shops so you are putting money right back into the local economy- stop sending your money far away). You can also look on Buy Nothing (if you haven't joined one yet, let me just mention again it is the bomb).

The other option, making it yourself, has so many benefits- you give a gift that you have really put your time and heart into, you give someone a gift that you know was ethically made, you can make a bunch of gifts in one shot, and you can save a bunch of money. I think it's the perfect way to give those smaller gifts to friends without it being a stress or a Walmart impulse buy. Pinterest offers about a million options, so you can browse and find an idea you like, but I thought I would highlight a few ideas I thought were especially cool.

from Cleverly Simple
1. Painted Kitchen Utensils- I think these are so simple and gorgeous, and Cleverly Simple takes you through the process perfectly. You could take a simple Epicurean utensil and use this to make them really special. Might be perfect for someone in a new apartment, and certainly more affordable than buying a similar set which may have been made from less ethical utensils!

2. Laundry Soap- This may sound crazy, but this is the idea I am most excited about! I would really like to stop using store-bought soap. It is so expensive in comparison to homemade, and even if you buy in bulk, it creates a ton of plastic waste. Boo! It's not necessary, so it is one of those areas I am changing course, because it just makes sense on all fronts. That being said, I can't imagine a better gift than someone giving us a big batch of soap so I don't have to make quite as much.

 It is such a practical gift, but if you make some that smells good, it would be a treat, and you can make so much in one go that you can cut out a BUNCH of Tide bottles from your loved one's plastic consumption. There are a bunch of options for soap recipes, so you can pick what works for you. Aprons and Pearls has a recipe that looks a lot like the one we bought off Etsy (for our trial run at homemade detergent).  This Hippy Homemaker one looks promising, and you can grate some soap into it for pretty smells. This one looks pretty simple. Dwelling Happiness makes a liquid and chemical-free version that you can do pretty quickly.

3. Christmas Ornaments- For the last three years, we have made Christmas ornaments for family members as a gift. It makes me feel less nervous about doing just one thing, and we have something that costs very little but we do put our heart and time into. My Grammy Binmore made ornaments that are basically icons in our whole family- just some felt and sequins, with a whole bunch of amazing in them. You can do this too! Just pinterest DIY Christmas ornament and get started! Need some inspiration? Start with these Space Invader ones!

from eHow
4. Birdseed Ornaments- This would be a great project to do with kids, and you know anyone can enjoy feeding a bird in their yard. Anyone with outside space could appreciate this gift, and eHow offers a simple tutorial on how to make them. Also a perfect opportunity to re-use straws!

from A Beautiful Mess
5. Sharpie Mugs- I feel like we have all seen this idea now, but it could still make a great gift, especially if you have beautiful penmanship. A Beautiful Mess does a full demo that can be really helpful. You just write with Sharpie on a mug and bake it at 350 for 30 minutes. My suggestion to make this even better? Go find mugs at Goodwill or another consignment shop! You can probably give a gift for less than 3 dollars a piece, and it really doesn't take much time. Perfect for grandparents or people just starting out in new homes! Put it in pinterest, and you can find all sorts of ideas.

If you want to do something a little different, you could also make these chalkboard mugs that they demo on wit and whistle! Seriously, cute. We have no room for more mugs, and I still want this mug.

from Sunset
6. Food Mixes in a Bottle- I love these mixes in jars, but I sometimes think the treat aspect is a bummer when you slide right into New Year's guilt season. I like the idea of doing a bread mix instead (did someone say pumpkin bread? Man I love some pumpkin bread). This mix from Sunset Magazine is low key but still thoughtful (and you could put it in some Made in America Ball jars!). Putting one of your favorite recipes into a gift is such a fun idea, shares a little bit of yourself (and a good idea, and can look really pretty! Win win win.

7. Art- Some of our favorite gifts we have ever received is art from loved ones. Last year, we got a drawing by our nephew which hangs on our wall everyday. We love it. Have a ton of art your elementary schooler made? Put it in a matted frame (I love these ones from Rustic and Refined Design, and for larger art you could buy one from Frame USA), and it will look polished enough to hang on any wall. A pretty small investment for a gift someone will treasure forever.

from Peanut Butter Fingers
You don't have spawn to make art for you to peddle off? Also, no artistic talent to speak of? You can still use this idea! Peanut Butter Fingers has a super cool DIY map project that they suggest for a first anniversary, but I think you could do a variation that would work for anyone (maps make great art, and you can get old atlases for nearly nothing).  All you have to do is put it in a matted frame, and it will look professional!

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