I love handmade gifts. They are usually very thoughtful and you can just see the dedication that the other person put into making them. First, thinking of what to make. Then, taking the time to gather all the materials. And finally, making the present. Sometimes, it can take days, weeks, or months to create one present. I can’t imagine a better occasion than Christmas to be giving handmade gifts.
In this article, I will give you an idea of what you could make for Christmas and still be eco-friendly. Unfortunately, not all crafts or craft supplies are green. I will give examples of different crafts/techniques, what materials you can use, and specific ideas of what to do. The main focus of handmade eco-friendly Christmas gifts will be on materials.
If you are not up to crafts and making a handmade eco-friendly gift, you can review this article where I list non-traditional eco-friendly Christmas gifts such as making family projects or pampering your loved ones with a massage or a spa day.
Knitting or crochet
If you already know how to knit or crochet, or if you are a beginner and you have never had knitting needles or crochet hook in your hands, you can make a great Christmas gift. I have started to crochet less than a month ago. I learned just by watching Youtube videos, and I have already made 2 pairs of slippers for my husband and me. Now I am in the process of making a baby blanket.
To make knitting, or crocheting eco-friendly you need to pick an eco-friendly yarn, this can be very daunting. To choose the best eco-friendly option for you, read this article on eco-friendly yarns. I give you all the details on each material, specific brands, and the reasons why each one is or is not eco-friendly.
Yarns to avoid
For purposes of this article, just let me tell you, that you should avoid using any synthetic yarns like acrylic yarn, polyester, nylon, or yarns with synthetic dyes, but also commercially produced cotton, chemically processed bamboo yarns, and even mass-produced sheep wool yarns.
Yarns to use
The yarn you should be using instead are responsibly farmed sheep wool or alpaca wool, organic cotton yarns, Tencel, recycled/upcycled yarns, T-shirt yarn, flax/linen yarns, hemp fiber yarn, mechanically processes bamboo yarns or soy yarn. Some of them might be more difficult to source, but in the article mentioned above, you can find eco-friendly stores to buy from.
You can also reuse old items made of yarn that you are no longer using, make your own T-shirt yarn from T-shirt you don’t use anymore, or even try something unique as using plastic bags to crochet or knit. This way, you give these items a brand new purpose, instead of sending them to the landfills.
After you have sourced the yarn you are comfortable using, lets look into what could you make as a gift.
If you are a beginner, you might need to search for a project that is easy, and you are able to learn effortlessly how to make it. You can look for video tutorials for scarfs, socks or legwarmers, easy blankets, washcloths, or even some types of bags.
If you are an experienced knitter or crocheter, you can basically make anything from sweaters, funny hats, home decor to toys (amigurumi).
Before going out and buying random accessories and yarn, pick the project you want to do, and see what size of needles or crochet hook and yarn weight you will need for this specific project.
Another craft you can try is sewing. You will need a sewing machine or more patience. You can also sew simple projects by hand. My husband always wanted a neck pillow that many people use in airplanes. I had some fabrics and some stuffing at home and I wanted to make him one. I didn’t have a sewing machine at that time, so I sewed it by hand, it turned out great.
Fabrics to use
Again, we need to look at materials you will use, to learn all about eco-friendly fabrics, read this article. Try to look into fabrics like hemp, linen, bamboo linen, Tencel, organic cotton, or recycled fabrics.
You could also use fabric from old clothes or home products you don’t use anymore and upcycle them and create something new. To reuse these materials, you can make a memory blanket using loved ones’ old clothes. It is very common to make a memory blanket, duvet, or a quilt using baby clothes. To reuse old sweaters, you can make a sweater pillow cover for more coziness.
Easy beginners projects to make are tote bags, napkins or placemats, picnic blankets, aprons, table runners, heat packs, even some simple toys.
For advanced projects, you could be making clothing, purses and backpacks, quilts, or more complex toys.
I give a lot of handmade gifts and nice homemade cosmetics is the one everyone appreciates and even asks for more in the future.
As I talked about in my article about creating an eco-friendly home, we can have a big impact if we change the cosmetics and toiletries we use. The conventional products use chemicals and preservatives as ingredients, and the packaging is usually not recyclable because it is made of mixed plastic that we are unable to recycle.
Materials / Ingredients
We can make our own products, that will be great for our skin, and the environment using simple and natural ingredients. The basic ingredients you might need are coconut oil, shea butter, cocoa butter, olive oil, aloe vera gel, beeswax, honey, sugar, coffee grinds, baking soda, and essential oils.
You can find easy recipes for several products, make a bigger batch of each and create a cosmetics sets for friends and family. You can find great recipes for body butter or lotion, lip balm, body scrub, or soap.
Be sure to follow the instruction in the recipes and learn something about the production process beforehand, so you are not surprised at the moment. Especially for soap making, you need to read about safety during soap making, as you will be working with lye that can burn your skin.
If you want something unique and special, look into creating a terrarium. A terrarium is an open or sealed glass container filled with soil and decorative plants. All the materials you are going to use are natural, renewable, or recyclable, and do no harm to the environment. On the other hand, having more plants in the house is a great eco-friendly option, as plants make our homes and environment healthier.
The system could be sealed and it should be able to sustain itself in a natural cycle. There are terrariums around the world that have survived for decades without any human interaction! But you can choose to make an unsealed terrarium that will need to be watered and taken care of.
You will need a transparent glass container, soil, activated charcoal, some pebbles or stones, and some smaller decorative plants. You can run your imagination wild and create a one-of-a-kind mini-world inside a (hopefully recycled) glass jar.
As the environment inside the terrarium will be humid, you want to choose plants that like and strive in a humid climate. Chose plants that won’t overgrow in the small space and don’t cram the terrarium with too many plants.
You might not be able to do pottery in your home, but if this is something you are interested in, you could take a pottery class just before Christmas and give the items you make in the class as gifts to your family and friends.
Clay in a renewable material naturally occurring in nature, it needs to be exposed to high temperatures to harden. The process requires a lot of energy, but the resulting product is durable, and can be used for decades or more!
Some glazes might be made with harmful chemicals. Either make unglazed pottery or find out which glazes are chemicals-free and use those.
The options of what to make are endless: vases, bowls, plates, mugs, planters, decorative objects, and more.
If you love to collect pebbles as I do, you can make beautiful and fun pebble art projects. I have not done this myself, but I am very eager to try it soon.
Pebbles are naturally occurring small rocks. They do not have an environmental impact and you can collect them in many places for free. You might need or want to use some paint and glue, please look for eco-friendly options available to you. Please do not collect pebbles or minerals in places where it is prohibited.
To make your art pieces, you can use paint and paint images on the pebbles, or write poems on them. You can also create a mandala using one bigger rock and paint, or arrange various pebbles in a mandala. Use Natural Earth Paint for more eco-friendly results.
If you don’t want to paint pebbles, you can simply arrange the pebble into images and frame them. The results can be amazing, search for pebble art in Google images results for inspiration.
You could also create games with pebbles. Easy and quick one would definitely be tic-tac-toe. More complex game to make could be Scrabble, but I have also seen a hand-engraved pebble made into chess pieces.
If you have the skills and tools, you can also hand engrave messages or images on the pebbles.
Macrame is a craft technique using knots to create different textures or textiles. The origin of Macrame is usually attributed to Arabic weavers from the 13th century. They used decorative knots to finish the loose ends of hand-woven textiles. However, decorative knot-tying can also be traced back to third-century China on ceremonial textiles as well as wall hangings.
While it may be hard to pinpoint the very first Macrame ever made, thanks to those Arabic Artisans macrame slowly spread throughout Europe and eventually became a common pastime for Sailors. (1)
To make this project more eco-friendly, pick eco-friendly supplies as cords made of linen, hemp, jute. Alternatively, use the eco-friendly yarns that we mentioned above or in this article. You could also reuse material like old cables that you don’t use anymore.
You can make wall decorations, plant hangers, jewelry, carpets, curtains, and many other projects.
I hope you loved some of the ideas, and you will dedicate some time to prepare handmade eco-friendly Christmas gifts this year. You will see how much more joy you can experience while making gifts compared to just buying them from a store. People will appreciate the dedication and time you put into creating these handmade eco-friendly Christmas gifts.
After you have chosen the best gift, you might need to wrap and decorate it. I have written a whole article on eco-friendly ways to wrap a gift. Read it and get inspired so you don’t mess your green gift with plastic wrapping. In this article, I cover how to reuse what you already have in your house for wrapping, some non-traditional ways of wrapping including a Japanese traditional way of wrapping called Furoshiki. Moreover, I give tips on how to tie and decorate the gift.
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