5 Ways to give without gifting this Christmas

The space beneath my family’s Christmas tree is empty this year. Santa and his reindeer won’t be stopping by.

Kate Hall

I promise it’s not because we’ve been naughty, and don’t worry, we haven’t become the grinches who stole Christmas.

We’ve simply boycotted gifts. That’s right, on Christmas morning, there will be no flurry of tacky Christmas wrapping paper, cello tape balls, or a towering pile of presents.

Sound odd to you? I’m more excited about Christmas than I’ve ever been before.

This year we’re gifting without gifts.

We’ve replaced the usual physical gift exchange, with gifts of more meaning and importance.

Ethical Christmas Gifts

We don’t want rubbish, plastic packaging, and unwanted gifts to end up in landfill, plus we already have everything we need.

My parents, siblings, and our partners are thinking outside the box and trying something new.

Here’s how we’re doing it

1. Time

It seems the main thing we’re all poor in these days, is time. We’re always running against the clock, late for something, or sacrificing relaxation and sleep. So, what better present than your time? Giving someone the one thing you’re most poor in, is the ultimate sign of love and affection.

Gift the promise of a dinner date, a hike, a movie night, or a walk along the beach.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t remember what my brother got me for Christmas last year. What I do remember, is the time he took me rock climbing by the seaside the previous summer. See what I mean?

2. Experience

A trip to the nail salon, a massage, a zip lining voucher, or a stand-up-paddle-board lesson; the most memorable gifts are those they wouldn’t buy for themselves but have always wanted to do.

Think of the best way to spoil them: what would be their ultimate way to spend time? Give them the voucher, and join them if they want you to (a solo experience works just as well too).

3. Donating

Charitable giving at Christmas is usually a sidenote, but companies such as Tearfund and The Good Registry have taken things to the next level. You can now gift a donation. It may not sound extravagant or personal, but through these companies, you can choose what type of charitable donation you’d like to gift.

A chicken, an emergency meal, a coffee plant, and even newborn care are a few of the gifts my family will open on Christmas morning.

But instead of the actual present (there’ll be no loose chickens causing havoc), they’ll receive a card explaining a donation has been made in their honour, and feel the good vibes of giving back to our local and global communities. Meanwhile, a village in need will receive help.

4. Service

A particularly perfect option for the grandparents, gifting time and skills is one of my favourite ways to exchange gifts on Christmas day.

My brother, a surprisingly good masseuse, has given my mum a 20-minute massage voucher every Christmas for as long as I can remember. My sister and I frequently gift my mum a song: all she wants is to hear us sing together.

Create a voucher for mowing someone’s lawns, weeding their garden, or depending on your expertise, offer to help them with a project. I promise it will work a treat.

5. Words

We have the chance to tell our friends and family why we love them every single day.

Usually, we only take that chance on their birthday, if that. After the usual ‘Merry Christmas’ message written boldly in the card to take up as much room as possible, write what you love about that person. Explain why you love having them in your life, and why you think they’re a great asset to the world.

Words can mean more to someone than you realise, and surprising them with a heartfelt message, may be the thing that makes their Christmas.

With our cluttered minds and growing to-do lists, the last thing we need in our lives is more junk to gather dust and maneuverer. Give without gifting, consider how the person will best feel loved and don’t give in to the flashing ‘SALE’ signs that urge you to buy your mum yet another scented candle and bathrobe.

Gifts don’t have to be physical; they can be a kiss on the cheek or a smile and a speech. This Christmas, get creative.


ethical Christmas gifts

Kate Hall

I live and breathe sustainable living and ethical fashion. This alternative way of consuming and existing dominates my every waking moment- and sometimes more. Ethical fashion and living are no longer my hobbies, it has become my mission... to change the future of fast fashion and the way we consume. My husband and I strive to live a zero-waste lifestyle, live at thrift stores, and always look to 'up-cycle' rather than throw out. Eco-living is not a choice for me, it's in my blood, and I am trying with all my power for it to be the new 'norm'.