Christmas cookies

Unexpected eco-friendly Christmas gifts

Christmas is many peoples’ favorite holiday of the year. It is definitely my favorite holiday. When I was a kid, I was longing for Christmas the whole year, and it was not only for the presents. I loved the traditions related to Christmas time. We started celebrating Christmas four Sundays before the actual Christmas, observing the advent time. 

Every Sunday, we burnt candles on the advent wreath. My mom was preparing Christmas foods, cookies, and sweets during the whole month of December while listening to Christmas carols or watching Christmas movies and fairy tales. And we had a live carp swimming in our bathtub for at least a week before Christmas!!!

Now, as an adult, I try to recreate the same atmosphere at my home. All except the living fish in my tub. The traditions, foods, and the spirit of Christmas are much more important to me than the presents. My husband and I usually give each other one meaningful present and that’s it. We try to pick a gift that has emotional value. More often than not the gift might be handmade or it is not a physical gift, but an experience.

This article is not the typical list of products you can click on and buy. I will mostly suggest unexpected eco-friendly Christmas gifts that have an emotional value, you might make them yourself, gifts that will promote spending time together, or will support small businesses and local artisans. You might need to look for a specific gift in your local area as I do not give specific suggested items for each category. 

I am not using any affiliate links, everything I recommend is because I like it and think it is useful. Feel free to search for different options in the same products category.


Family activities

To further promote the Christmas spirit, you could think of a gift that will unite your family even more. Think of activities you could do together and spend some quality time.

Eco-friendly board games

If you guys like board games, Late for the Sky develops games around specific topics, some of them include environmental topics or they educate about specific animals or species. The company aims to produce earth-friendly games. 100% of the unused paper involved in making the games is recycled. The fiberboard used in making the boxes and game boards is all recycled material. Environmentally focused games include Earthpoly, Oceanopoly, or Forest Animapoly. 

Genius Games has developed a game called Ecosystem in which you build your own ecological network. Sustainability and diversity are rewarded, monocultures are penalized.

For other kinds of board games, look for games with parts made of natural and recyclable materials like paper, cardboard, or wood. What comes to mind is Jenga, Chess, Domino, Scrabble, and others. 

DIY Projects or Kits

If you are looking for other types of family or couples activities, there are plenty of DIY projects and kits with an environmental focus. You can either source everything necessary yourself or search for a ready-made kit that has it all. The time spent together will be the biggest gift of it all.

There are so many options, depending on your interests or what do you have on hand, pick the right choice for you. These eco-friendly activities can include for example:

worm composting at an apartment: the vermicomposter
  • Building and starting your own worm bin. Read everything you need to know about having a worm bin in an apartment in this article.
  • Planting a vegetable garden in the yard, or an inside herb garden, and if you have very limited space, you can build a vertical garden.  
  • Making a birdhouse or feeder to hang close to your house. 
  • Upcycling your family’s old T-shirts and making bags, rugs, or making T-shirt yarn and then making your own upcycled hammock. 
  • Preserving fruits and vegetables.
  • Making candles or soaps together.
  • Making some new art for the house: paint on eco-friendly textiles.
  • Building furniture from reclaimed wood

Express your love gift

In our family, we mostly give ourselves these kinds of gifts. Gifts that will directly or indirectly express how much we love each other. The last one I received was a small stainless steel mug, and one crochet hook and one ball of yarn. A present that is small and cheap, but the meaning behind it was big. I love to drink my coffee from a small mug, and I broke all the small ones. Yes, I am a bit clumsy. My husband bought me a mug I could not break. I also wanted to learn how to crochet for a long time, but I didn’t know where to start. I was touched. 

Express your love, Indirect

  1. This will always depend on your loved one, it must be something they really want or need. Even better if it is a secret wish that you somehow uncovered. It requires your observation and attention. The gift itself might be small, but because you noticed the wish or need, the joy will be great. 
  2. The other option is to give them many small future acts or services that you will perform:
  • Love coupons: Make a set of 12 (or a number of your choice) of small activities you will perform for them over the next, month, or year. These can be cooking dinner, taking them to the movies, giving them a massage or a foot rub, cleaning the whole house, etc. They get to pick when they want to enjoy each gift.
  • Emergency box: Prepare a box that you will fill with emergency situations and solutions in envelopes. On the outside of the envelope will say the emergency situation like “when you are tired”, “when you need to laugh”, “when you are hungry”, “when you need a hug”, etc. Inside the envelope place the solution. It can be something you will perform like a massage, or it can be something like a list of jokes, an invitation for dinner, a picture of something they love, etc. Just let your imagination run wild.
Unexpected eco-friendly Christmas gifts: Express your love gift

Express your love, Direct

The direct ones will plainly tell the other person how much you love them, in a special kind of way or packaging. You can:

  • Love Story Notebook: Buy or make a small recycled paper notebook and write your love story. This can work with couples, friends, parents, and children, etc. Just write the stories that you want to remember and why you love them so much. My husband asked me to marry him in a notebook, where he wrote all our love story.
  • Message in the bottle: Instead of writing your love story or message in a notebook, you can write it on a piece of recycled paper, roll it tie it and put it in a bottle. Fill the bottle with small chocolates that fit in and close with the cork. Simple, but original. 
  • X reasons I love you: Write a big number of reasons why you love them on separate pieces of recycled paper and fill a decorated jar, box, or any other suitable container with them. You can add their favorite candy inside. The bigger the number of reasons, the more emotional it will get.
  • Engraved message: If you have a habit of picking up stones, shells, or other objects from your travels, you can take a few of those and get then engraved with love messages. 

Pamper your loved ones

Instead of giving a physical gift, you can buy your loved ones experience gift. Something that will help them relax, or an activity they love a lot. This could include spa day, massage, beauty salon visit, tickets to a show they really want to see, stay in nature in nice cabins or lodge, etc. Something tailored to your loved one’s likes, hobbies, or wishes.

When picking the right place, please make sure to pick a place that has sustainability in mind and has eco-friendly policies in place. There are plenty of spas, hotels, cabins that have eco-friendly programs on their premises and that support the locals.  

Eco-friendly Art Pieces / Decoration

There are many local artists and artisans everywhere who are dedicated to making unique art pieces. Go to local fairs or markets or search online. Buying from local makers, you support the local economy and small businesses instead of big corporations. 

Items from recycled materials

If you want to find art made of recycled material, you can find art pieces made of recycled glass, paper, metal, plastics, reclaimed wood, or many other recycled materials

New, eco-friendly materials

If you are looking for an art piece or some kind of home decoration for your loved ones, be mindful of the materials used. If the items are brand new, pick the material that doesn’t have a great impact on the planet and is easily recyclable or compostable, in case it does not serve anymore. You can choose art made of glass, clay or ceramics, bamboo, rocks, cork, eco-friendly fabrics, etc. 


Glass is a material made of sand. It is mostly man-made, but during some natural events like volcano ruptures, sand can be created naturally. It can be recycled over and over again without losing its quality. Recycling glass consumes much less energy and creates less pollution than making new glass, so find a recycled glass art piece for even lesser environmental impact.

Clay / Pottery

Clay has been used for thousands of years to make plates, vases, pots, even jewelry. To harden the clay it is necessary to use very high temperatures. Beware that some glazes may contain chemicals, even lead, so either ask about a specific glaze or pick unglazed pottery.


Bamboo is one of the most renewable materials on the planet. It grows fast, doesn’t need pesticides or fertilizers, doesn’t need to be replanted, as it will grow back from the roots.

If you want to see more suggestions on eco-friendly handmade Christmas gifts or handmade eco-friendly gifts read these articles, where I give a list of techniques you can use, the materials you will need, and I give specific ideas of what projects to make.

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.

I hope you can find something you love in these suggestions and take the time to prepare something really special for your loved ones. Let’s promote a real Christmas spirit. Let’s spend time with family and let’s give back to Mother Earth. Instead of buying many gifts, let’s buy less and support the local economy, and small businesses.

I am not using any affiliate links, everything I recommend is because I like it and think it is useful. Feel free to search for different options in the same products category.