Sustainable Christmas gift ideas

Giving can be expensive and stressful, or it could be an exercise in thoughtfulness and gratitude while being kind to loved ones and the planet. Below are some of my go-to gifts to make it a season of giving.

Sustainable Christmas gift ideas for adults:

Sustainable Christmas gift ideas for kids:

If none of these suit you, check out marketplaces for ethical suppliers like @biomestores@floraandfaunaau, or @goodonyou_app.

For a full gift guide, see my blog post with categorised Sustainable Christmas gift ideas for every type of person in your life.

How to drop hints for sustainable Christmas gifts

While giving and receiving is about much more than the item itself, sometimes we need to drop a few hints so that what we do receive from our loved ones is kinder to the planet and more useful to ourselves.

Be prepared. Think about what you need, not want, for when someone asks you ‘What would you like for Christmas?’ Think about what you or your family need to be more sustainable, or if you don’t need anything, then say so and maybe suggest a donation, experience, or just forego gifts instead.

Be a role model. Get in early and give sustainable Christmas gifts yourself. Talk about why you chose the gifts, too, so the other person understands that it's important to you and that those options exist.

Place limits on gifts. Part of being sustainable is consuming less. Think about a family Secret Santa instead of giving a gift to everyone. And tell the grandparents that the kids maybe don’t need all of those plastic toys they want to get them, and instead only give one or two gifts each.

Be honest. It can be awkward to say ‘thanks but no thanks’ to that suggestion of a particular gift. But with the environment as your reason to say that, it is worth the gentle steer in the other direction.

But also don’t forget - always be kind and gracious with whatever you receive.

Re-gifting: Smart or rude?

This is something to consider for gift giving and receiving all year round, not just at Christmas!

What I have learnt over the years is that with BIG parties comes BIG piles of presents. But, even if it's not a large quantity, you still might not even like what you do receive. Some of it we just end up not wanting or needing. So what do you do with it if that’s the case?

I personally think you can totally regift! (just make sure you aren’t giving it to the person who gave it to you). Stash the gifts away and if you need to buy something for a birthday, baby shower or other occasions, check the secret pile first before buying something new.

Or, if you still feel weird about regifting, consider if you could donate it. There are many charities that work especially hard on Christmas to provide for families that need it most. And if all else fails, list it on a second-hand marketplace for someone who might want and treasure it.

Whatever you do with it, remember that you have already experienced the real reason for the giving of the gift - the feeling of love and security and belonging that comes when you receive a gift is far more valuable than the gift itself.

Eco friendly gift wrapping options

Did you know that most regular wrapping paper can't be recycled?

It usually contains foil or glitter (or both) and is often laminated with a thin layer of plastic to make it slightly more durable and flexible than regular paper. A lot of wrapping paper is also too thin to effectively recycle and arrives at the facility covered in sticky tape, so the whole paper goes to waste.

So what other options do we have to make our gift-giving more eco-friendly for a sustainable Christmas?

Use Kraft paper. It’s a natural, biodegradable, and compostable material. If you don't want to buy kraft paper, use what you already have at home instead.

You can use:

Use Washi Tape instead of regular sticky tape. It’s typically made from hemp and bamboo and the self-adhesive used in washi tape is compostable and recyclable.

Use jute string or fabric ribbon instead of poly ribbon or curling ribbon. Jute string is natural and biodegradable, or using fabric ribbon means it's easier to untie and more likely to be used again and again. Add a paper gift tag to complete the look!

Use leaves or flowers as decoration. It’s all-natural and adds a unique look. A sprig of rosemary looks romantic and fresh and smells delicious. You can also use pressed flowers or even gum leaves.

Use the folding and tying method of Furoshiki - the art of wrapping with cloth! You can use any square piece of cloth, or even a decorative tea towel to add an extra gift to your gift. You can also use a pillowcase, scarf, handkerchief, or old unused fabric pieces found around the home or in op-shops.

Eco friendly greeting card alternatives

Similarly to wrapping paper, did you know that most greeting cards have a plastic film on them and can’t be recycled? Thank goodness there are plenty of alternatives out there:

DIY cards. Use scraps found at home or good old regular paper. You can decorate them as creatively as you like and it adds a personal touch.

E-cards. Adobe Spark is a free service with pre-made templates you can use. Or Charity E-cards has pre-made cards that you can customise for just $2, part of which goes to your chosen charity. Bush Heritage Australia is one of my favourites, and they also sell (virtual) gift cards to help support their conservation work.

Buy from eco-conscious brands. Thinktree and Earth Greetings are just two of the many companies providing amazing sustainable Christmas cards that are made from recycled materials and are Australian-owned and made.

Write directly on the wrapping paper. If you’re giving a gift, skip the card entirely and write on the (Kraft) paper wrapping instead.

Sustainable Christmas decorating

Real is better than plastic. Real trees produce oxygen and can be composted after use. Even better if you are willing to buy the one that no one else wants, to save it from being wasted later. But obviously, if you already have a plastic Christmas tree, don’t throw it out just to buy a new, real one.

However, if you really want to buy a plastic tree that will last for many years to come, check out second-hand marketplaces like Facebook or Gumtree. This will contribute to a circular and sharing economy rather than consuming new plastic, plus it will more than likely be cheaper than buying new!

Make your own sustainable Christmas tree. If you can’t buy the real deal, you can make one out of paper via origami! Or find branches and pop them in a pot or vase and decorate them so it looks like a tree. This way also saves space and effort.

Create a reusable felt tree for the kids. Let the little ones unleash their creativity without the mess. They are also easy to store away and can be reused for years to come.

Use LED lighting or solar-powered lights. LED uses less energy so it’s good for your wallet and the environment!

Opt for natural wreaths. Instead of more plastic, choose to buy from a local artist who uses live plants or paper. They not only look great but smell good too.

Ditch the tinsel. Not only is it non-recyclable, but it also falls apart really easily and can become microplastics that get everywhere. Go for hanging decorations made from paper and other natural materials or make your own snowflake garland. This could also be a great arts and crafts moment for the family.

Eco friendly holiday party hosting

Are you hosting a family or friends Christmas get-together this year? Here are some tips on how to make your work Christmas party, family gathering, or friend group catch-ups more sustainable.

When getting ready to host, here are some things to think about:

Consider what kind of wrapping your food, napkins, and other party products come in. Avoid plastic if possible and buy from local businesses.

Make your gathering into a potluck lunch or dinner, where people bring a seasonal, homemade (vegetarian?) dish. You can also ask them to write the recipe down, then copy and share those recipe cards with all the guests after the party.

Skip the balloons, plastic confetti, and glittery decorations. If you need to have a theme, go for something natural with flowers and paper decorations, or forego the decorations altogether.

Ditch the single-use items and go for reusable plates, cups, and utensils. But if that's not possible look into biodegradable or compostable versions and how to dispose of them properly.

Encourage carpooling with guests coming to the location. It helps reduce pollution and eases parking congestion too.

Recycling and compost bins should be as easy, or easier, to find for guests than garbage bins. If trash cans are more readily available and accessible, guests will likely use those as default. If you don't have compost, check out the ShareWaste app to find the closest compost drop-off location to you.

Planning a sustainable Christmas Day meal

I know for me and many others, the highlight of Christmas day is tucking into a delicious roast lunch or dinner (then not moving for the rest of the day).

But, can we really have a sustainable Christmas meal? Below are some ideas on how you can do just that…

Christmas food wreath made from tomato and basil salad

If you don't want to give up meat, here are some things to think about:

If you're open to trying new, vegetarian alternatives, have a look at these:

One of my favourite Christmas group activities is also baking and decorating sugar cookies. Grab some Christmas-shaped cookie cutters and some red, green, and white frosting, and go nuts! This is also a great activity to do with the kids in the lead up to the day, while they are on school holidays and need some entertainment!

Avoiding food waste during the Christmas holidays

Australians throw away $20 billion of food a year, and half of the waste is happening in households. The problem accelerates over the festive season!

Plan your food shopping with a list and portion sizes for how many people you’ll be catering for. Nearly half the respondents to a 2020 Australian survey on food wastage don’t make shopping lists.

Buy ugly fruits and vegetables. Unless they smell wrong, a fruit or vegetable's size, shape or colour should not affect their eating or cooking quality. Plus, the 'odd' pieces are usually left to rot so they are actually discounted in some stores compared to their perfect siblings.

Get wise to sell-by and best-before dates. These are often simply manufacturers’ suggestions for peak quality and not strict indicators of whether the food is still safe for consumption. Know the difference between the two and research whether they are hard deadlines for consumption, or if there is some grey area where they are still okay to eat.

Store leftover food properly, freeze it if you can, and remember to eat it. You can also regrow certain vegetables from their stems or stumps, so don't throw those away either!

Get creative by preparing different meals with leftovers. Here are some suggestions from common Christmas foods:

Bon appétit!

How to make your holiday travels more sustainable

It might sound complicated, or just too hard, but every little bit counts. Whether you're going to visit family, or take time off work to travel around, it’s all about taking the sustainable mindset from your everyday life, into your holiday experiences.

Looking for ideas for more sustainable Christmas holiday travels, right here in Australia?

Take an empty esky and explore somewhere new in your state or closer to home. Plan a slow road trip and really soak up the local way of life. Fill up your esky with scrumptious food, drink and even a cheeky bottle of wine from local producers.

Try an Aboriginal-owned eco-lodge or experience. At certain places, you can stay in low impact accommodation that reflects the First Australians' values of caring for Country.

Remember - resist the temptation to feed or disturb wildlife and leave nothing but footprints when you go.

The spirit of giving

We all want to feel good during the holiday season, and what better way to do that than by giving donations, time, or money to the people who need it the most. Not only is it more sustainable than physical presents, which the receivers may or may not want, but it encapsulates the true meaning and spirit of Christmas as well.

Christmas is an especially trying time for a lot of people and families, only made tougher with the consequences of the pandemic in recent years.

Here are some easy and valuable ways to give back to those in need:

Please feel free to share any causes that are close to your heart this Christmas in the comments.

To see more sustainable tips related to life and travel, follow me on Instagram.

Sustainable gift ideas for budget friendly Secret Santas

1. eBooks

Find Your Why, The Book of Gutsy Women, Zero Waste Home books
Find Your Why, The Book of Gutsy Women, Zero Waste Home

eBooks are amazing. They don't use up any resources in making them, and everyone loves a good read for their work commute, or simply to help chill out before bed.

Booktopia has a major selection of the classics, best-sellers, and self-help variety. For example, why not gift someone an eBook on how to make your home more sustainable, or inspire someone with The Book of Gutsy Women by Hillary Clinton, or Find Your Why by Simon Sinek.

For people with Kindles specifically, check out Amazon.com.au. They also don't need a dedicated eReader to use Kindle, since there is a free app for your phone.

2. Plants

2 plants and a decorative pot
Indoor house plants or herbs with a nice pot are a great gift

Plants are a cute gift for anyone. They can pop a flower pot on their desk to brighten their day, or take a veggie or herb plant home to leave on the kitchen bench or window sill.

Add a beautiful ceramic pot, like any of these, to make it look a bit snazzier and you have yourself a certified, amazing Secret Santa gift!

3. Homemade Food

Home made chop chip cookies and apricot balls
Home made food such as cookies and bliss balls

Everybody loves food. Why not make your own little edible gifts. Like these apricot balls, or these delicious and healthy choc-chip cookies.

Wrap them up in a small produce bag, or a reusable container like these glass ones from Ikea, for an even more amazing gift that looks great, is useful after they've been eaten, and is environmentally friendly.

4. Keep Cup

Keep cups for coffee
For the coffee lover, keep cups made from recyclable material

There's always that one person in the office who asks you if you want to go grab a coffee at least three times a day. Why not gift them a glass keep cup like this one.

I personally also love Frank Green, as the products are recyclable at their end of life. They also stock water bottles and other reusables. To add that extra personal touch, you can also add a monogram of their initials.

5. Reusable Shopping Bags

Reusable shopping and produce bags
Grocery and produce bags in all shapes, colours and patterns

With plastic bags at checkouts being slowly banned across the board, reusable shopping bags are becoming more of a necessity than a nice-to-have.

For produce bags that are stylish and useful, try colourful and playful net string bags or these simple sets. Or, if you are after something that can fit a bit more, a canvas bag made from organic materials. You can find so many options in cute prints, too. Check sustainable marketplaces or Etsy for a wide selection.

6. Bees Wax Wraps

Beeswax wraps around bowls and food
Beeswax wraps

This might be a slightly more unusual option, but no less valuable for your produce and leftovers to keep them fresh. This would be perfect for that person you know loves to cook or spend time at the local produce markets.

Pick up a pack, or mix and match. Again, Etsy or marketplaces like Flora and Fauna are perfect starting points and choose a print that suits the receiver's personality.

7. Reusable Straws

Bamboo, metal and silicone reusable straws
Bamboo, metal and silicone straws

There are so many options for reusable straws these days. Plastic straws make up about 4% of plastic waste (per piece), so it's understandable people are looking for alternatives.

Options include bamboo, metal, or silicone versions.

8. Scented Candle

Scented candles made from upcycled bottles
Scented candles

The classic Secret Santa gift. A scented candle is useful in any situation and can come in a huge variety of scents so no matter if you're after something floral, candy, or location scented, you can find it for your Secret Santa.

For an extra level of sustainability for your candle, you can pick up a beeswax or vegan soy candle. This one comes in a reclaimed beer bottle, and smells like candy canes.

9. Coconut Bowls

Coconut bowls and Acai mix
Coconut bowls and Acai blend

Do you have that one person in the office that is always raving about the Acai bowl they had by the beach on the weekend?

I'm finding coconut bowls are becoming more and more popular, and not just for those Acai lovers. They add that level of fun or tropical vibes to a meal or are perfect if you like to eat outside in the sunshine as they are durable too.

Gift a coconut bowl, maybe add an Acai mix, and grant happiness all around!

10. Loose Leaf Tea or Coffee

T2 tea and reusable capsule for coffee
Loose tea leaves and reusable coffee capsules

Did you know that tea bags are not recyclable as they mostly contain plastic (and you are drinking microplastics as a result)? Loose leaf is the perfect solution and is a great gift for that tea-obsessed person in your life.

T2 has a great range of fruity, savory, and spicy teas. There is something to suit everyone. Include a keep cup, as was mentioned earlier, and complete the set.

Not a tea fan? If you're Secret Santa is more of a coffee drinker, why not gift reusable Nespresso pods with certified sustainable coffee?

11. Vegetarian Recipe Book

Veg by Jamie Oliver
Veg - Jamie Oliver

The most effective way to reduce your carbon footprint is to eat less meat. Gift someone a recipe book full of alternative meat meals. Here is one by Jamie Oliver (so you can't really go wrong).

To go above and beyond, why not add some dry ingredients to the gift to get them started on one of your favourite recipes from the book.

12. Oxfam Charity Cards

Charity cards from Oxfam
Oxfam charity cards

For that Secret Santa that has everything, why not gift them a greeting card that gives back to the less fortunate through the charity organisation, Oxfam.

For example, buying one of these cards can gift a chicken to a farming family, who can eat and sell the eggs it lays, or give clean drinking water to a village to prevent sickness from drinking polluted rivers or in the event of a disaster.

Sustainable gift ideas for Her

1. Experiences for Her

High tea food and champagne
High tea is a great experience

Experiences are absolutely my favourite way to gift something special. It can be personal, exciting, and something you can do together.

Why not go on a wine tasting tour, have a luxurious high-tea, dinner at sunset, or go on a weekend staycation at a nice hotel (check out my review of a staycation at the Shangri-La Sydney).

My favourite experience sites are Redballoon, ExperienceOz, and Adrenaline.

2. Gratitude or goal-setting journal

The Gratitude Journal Co is not only beautiful, but mindful and thoughtful too

This gift could be the most thoughtful and beautiful item you could give your loved ones. The absolute favourite one that I've used is from The Gratitude Journal Co, which is all sustainably Australian owned and made. It comes in a beautifully wrapped package with a wax seal and dried flowers for that extra delicate and wow-factor touch.

Use code 'TWILLI10' for a discount.

3. Massage, Facial or Nails

A woman getting massaged
A spa day can be rejuvenating

This is my go-to gift for my mum and sisters. I mix it up between any kind of spa treatment but who doesn't love a good massage or facial?

Depending on your budget, you can opt for a foot massage or full body massage. Or a rejuvenating and relaxing facial is bound to satisfy even the pickiest of women. Why not make it a girl's day and join them for the experience?

4. Handbags, totes, and purses

Anew Atelier makes all vegan, plastic-free, timeless bags, pouches, and more.

Anew Atelier is an Australian vegan fashion and accessories brand for those passionate about adventure, smart design, and a sustainable, ethical lifestyle. Their style is effortless and timeless, with everything from work-appropriate 'leather' handbags, to casual beach totes and everything in between. There is something for everyone.

Use code 'BLACKFRIDAY30' for 30% during the Black Friday season, or 'ANEWFRIENDS10' for 10% off all year round.

All of their bags are made from sustainable materials, including apple peel leather. They are completely plastic-free, even in the packaging, and are 100% carbon neutral.

5. eBooks

The Handmaid's Tale, Bossypants and The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck books
The Handmaid's Tale, Bossypants, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck

I know I've already gone through eBooks in the Secret Santa section, but I love to give the gift of a good story and especially in the self improvement and empowerment area.

For example, The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood, Bossypants by Tina Fey or The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson. All are perfect options for the strong woman in your life!

6. Sustainable Swimwear

For the Dreamers sustainable swimwear one piece suits
A selection of swimwear from For the Dreamers

I'm loving that sustainable swimwear is becoming more and more popular over the last couple of years. Some are made from recycled plastic, some are organic (use less water and resources).

Some of my favourite brands include Vitamin A and For the Dreamers.

7. Sustainable Activewear

Sustainable activewear bra, tights and shorts from Team Timbuktu
Team Timbuktu sustainable activewear

Along the same line as sustainable swimwear, why not give some eco-friendly activewear (or a voucher for them) to the gym junkie in your life.

Some brands to look at include Team Timbuktu and Girlfriend Collective.

8. Knitting Kit

Knitting kit for scarf, knitting kit for a shawl
Wool & the Gang knitting kit

Arts & crafts are a fantastic way for creative people to relax, reset, and learn a new skill. I love the Wool & the Gang knitting kits for this exact reason.

They have kits for beginners, like scarves and blankets, all the way through to the more advanced crochet pieces, like jumpers and more.

9. Handcrafted Jewellery

Luna & Rose jewellery
Luna & Rose - sustainable jewellery

Instead of the cheap, plastic jewellery that will fall apart in a few months, take the time and money to invest in a beautiful, custom piece made by local artists.

Why not have a look at these recycled tyres made into different shaped pieces.

Luna & Rose also makes beautiful gold and silver jewellery from recycled materials and with sustainable and ethical practices.

Sustainable gift ideas for Him

1. Experiences for Him

2 people indoor skydiving at iFly
Indoor Skydiving

Men are some of the worst people to buy for, I never know what to get! But with an experience, you can't go wrong. There's everything from go-karting to indoor skydiving.

If your man is a little less of an adrenaline junkie, there's always a walking ghost tour, or a whisky tasting masterclass.

Have a look on Redballoon, ExperienceOz, and Adrenaline.

2. Bottle of Spirits

3 bottles of Game of Thrones themed whisky
Game of Thrones themed Whisky

Continuing on from the whisky train of thought, a really good bottle of alcohol is perfect for celebrating a special occasion.

You can go to your local bottle shop and pick up anything from a $50 bottle to a $300+ bottle of spirits. Or if you're guy is obsessed with certain shows or cultures, then find something specific for that. For example, Johnny Walker has a limited edition range out just for Game of Thrones fans.

3. Eco luggage

Backpack and 2 different types of spinner suitcases
Backpacks, duffles and spinner suitcases - made from recycled material

This is a great gift for any travel-loving person, not just for men, but I'm so glad that eco luggage is now a thing!

The best ones I've come across are Kathmandu and Patagonia. Or for the more luxurious spinner suitcases, there is the Samsonite Eco range.

For a smaller, everyday option, there is always the Fjallraven backpack range - perfect for work, local hikes, or travel.

4. Sustainable material sneakers

High tops, low cut and slip on shoes for men
Etiko sneakers

Etiko is one of my favourite sneaker brands. They make converse-style shoes including hitops, lowcuts and slip ons in cool colours.

Etiko is founded on the principles that everything they make is made ethically, sustainably, and conscientiously for animals, people, and the environment.

I've also recently discovered All Birds, which uses all-natural materials and the supply chain is all sustainable and ethical, too. I have been wearing my Tree Skippers for days and they are so comfortable and stylish.

5. Recycled material towel & board shorts

blue beach towel and striped swim shorts
Turkish beach towel and board shorts made from recycled material

Dock & Bay has a great range of sand-free beach towels and swim shorts that are made from 100% recycled materials.

Or maybe try an organic cotton Turkish towel. I love these as they are lightweight and quick-drying, and come in some really nice patterns and colours, like these ones from Aegean Loom.

6. Pela Case - Compostable Phone Cover

3 phone cases for iPhone 11 Max Pro with different colours
Pela biodegradable phone cases

Pela cases are 100% compostable and are super protective while still being soft and looking great. They also stock sunglasses and other accessories.

The more amazing thing about this company is that they run campaigns where their profits from certain cases go towards a good cause. For example, their yellow bee case contributes towards saving the bees and our planet!

7. Will & Bear Hat

Wide brimmed and bucket hat with baseball cap.
Will & Bear hats - plant 10 trees for every hat sold

I love Will & Bear hats. They fit well, are sustainably made, and they plant 10 trees with every purchase! They have wide-brimmed hats, caps, or even straw hats and beanies, depending on the season.

Their hats are technically unisex, too, so you can get one for anyone that needs protection from the sun (aka everyone).

8. Recycled material wallet

Black and blue wallet made from recycled inner tube
Wallet made from recycled bike tyres

Who knew inner tubes from bikes could be so useful? These wallets are made from recycled rubber material and are made to last.

You can also source them on Etsy, one of the best places to shop from local and international artists. These kinds of wallets can come in all shapes, sizes, and colours. So there's no excuse - there's something for everyone!

Sustainable gift ideas for Babies and Toddlers

1. Sustainable Baby Clothing

Christmas themed baby clothes in red and white
Baby clothes from PureBaby

Baby clothes are cute and so versatile. Everyone wants to give their baby the best there is, which includes dressing them in sustainable materials, such as organic cotton, bamboo and more.

Some of my favourite brands to gift include Boody, Purebaby, and New Zealand's Nature Baby.

2. Wooden/Bamboo Toys

Wooden baby toys, puzzles and games
Beautifully crafted wooden toys

With a little nephew and niece to buy for, I've recently become obsessed with eco and wooden toys as substitutes to the harmful plastic ones you find in most stores.

Little Earth Nest has beautiful organic rubber and fabric toys, as well as wooden puzzles, rollers, and games to suit any toddler.

3. Dummy (& Chain) or Teethers

Rubber dummy with blue and wood dummy chain
Natural rubber dummy and dummy chain

Even dummies can come in eco-friendly options these days. Here are some natural rubber versions from Flora & Fauna.

Also, why not gift these with a beautiful dummy chain to spruce it up a little. Here are some from Eco Child that goes perfectly with their natural rubber dummies.

4. Reusable Cloth Nappies

reusable, cloth nappies in black spot and purple
Reusable nappies

Regular, throw-away plastic nappies are harmful to the environment and are a money sucker. It's estimated 3.75 million disposable nappies are used each day in Australia and New Zealand, on average taking 150 years to break down. Wow.

Try a reusable cloth nappy, like this cute adjustable one. Depending on the brand, they come in a range of colours and patterns. And you can even buy reusable swim nappies for that perfect Summer splash.

5. Organic or Recycled Material Muslin Wraps

Harry potter and floral themed muslin wraps
Aden + Anais has Harry Potter wraps and floral design wraps + more

I've been told you can never have enough muslin wraps for your baby. They are a great way to bring some personality into a gift with beautiful colours and prints.

My favourite ones to buy were from Aden + Anais and Flora & Fauna also stock some beautiful prints that are all organic and sustainable.

6. Photography Session

A sleeping baby dressed as a bear for a photography shoot
Photography sessions are a great gift that last a lifetime

If you aren't sure what to buy for the parent that seems to have all bases covered, you can't go wrong with a photography session. Besides, iPhone photos uploaded to Facebook are just the start. You can never have enough precious moments captured on camera, and even better when done by a professional!

7. Free Baby sitting

Example of a baby sitting coupon
Create your own vouchers for baby sitting

This is one gift I've given multiple times and every time was a hit! It's cheap and easy to do, and gives you quality time with the little ones to cement yourself as the favourite aunt or uncle 😉

New parents are always thankful when they can have a night off to enjoy themselves. Maybe go on a date like the old days, or just sit at home with a good book and a movie that doesn't involve animated characters.

Make up some beautiful voucher booklets on seeded paper to make it extra special. Canva is a great place to start with designing your own little cards.

Sustainable gift ideas for Kids

1. Experiences for Kids

Chocolate with different toppings on a baking tray
Chocolate making class is great for kids and parents

I've said it before and I'll say it again. I love gifting experiences. And there's even some for kids, too.

For example, in Sydney, why not get them entry tickets to the Sea Life Aquarium or Taronga Zoo. If you want to include the parents, there's always a Parent & Child Chocolate making class. Yum!

2. Sustainable Kids Clothing

3 examples of dresses and overalls for young girls
Girl's clothing from Arnhem and Slow Threads

As kids grow, new clothes come and go and there's nothing we can do about that. But by buying sustainable alternatives, thrift shopping and reusing old clothes, we can help an otherwise fast fashion cycle.

Here are some sustainable outfits for kids from Thread Harvest. Slow Threads also stocks multiple brands, catering for kids of all ages.

I also love Arnhem Clothing, a brand hailing from Byron Bay (the sustainable capital of Australia). Their kid's clothes are so cute and are identical to adult styles, so you can match!

3. Card and Board Games

Gardenopoly, a board game based on Monopoly
Garden-opoly

Card and board games are a great way to get the family together, and even teach kids something new while having fun.

One board game I'm wanting to try is Garden-opoly. Based on the classic Monopoly, kids actually buy garden favourites, collect clay pots and trade them in for greenhouses.

These playing cards are also biodegradable, and you can play so many games with them depending on the age and competitive spirit of the kids.

4. Recycled Material Sunglasses

Red and white sunglasses for kids
Sustainable sunglasses

Cool kids wear sustainable sunglasses. This is a great option to pair with some swimmers and a towel to complete the summer package. Little Soek is a great brand with colourful designs for kids.

5. Grow Your Own Pot Plant

A potted plant with a face
Pothead - grow your own plant

Who didn't love growing their own pot head when they were a kid? Pass this awesome learning experience onto the kids in your life now. It doesn't have to be a pot head, though. You can gift flowers, herbs or full on trees that can grow with the kids for years to come.

Some marketplaces and stores also sell full gardening kits aimed at kids.

6. Colouring Book with Sustainable Pencils/Crayons

Colouring book with coloured pencils
Colouring book and Sprout pencils that grow!

A nice, quiet gift for kids is colouring books. You can find some for all skill levels (such as whether they can colour within the lines yet.)

Gift a book or two with some sustainable pencils or crayons for a complete gift. These Sprout Pencils can be buried in soil when you're done with them and then watch them grow into different plants!

7. Sustainable Pencil Cases

A pencil case made from an old Skittles packet
Pencil case made from recycled candy wrappers

Following on from the pencil and creativity thought, why not gift them in a pencil case made from recycled materials.

Etsy is full of them and you can find materials such as recycled plastic, leaves, leather, and even upcycled food containers.

8. Reusable Water Bottle

A steel water bottle with a spaceship on it. A pink water bottle with rabbit design.
Resuable water bottles from Biome and Flora & Fauna

This is an absolute classic and a good one. Teach your kids the importance of saying no to single-use plastic by gifting them a reusable water bottle. There are so many out there, for all different uses and situations.

You can get ones shaped like animals, ones with straps so they aren't so easy to lose, stainless steel ones, ones with cute patterns, and ones that tell them how much they should be drinking. You can even get them personalised.

Two of the best sites to browse include Flora & Fauna and Biome. Etsy is also, yet again, a great place to support local artists while shopping.

Everyone loves a birthday, and everyone loves free food. So why not put those two together and go crazy, exploring Sydney and getting fed while doing it?

Below are some of my favourite (and easiest) options to grab some birthday freebies while you are out and about.

Boost Juice

Claim a FREE Boost from 2 days before until 2 days after your registered birthday! You need to be a Vibe Club member, but signing up is easy and almost instantaneous so you can even do it while waiting in line to order.

Then it's just a simple matter of downloading the app or scanning your club card and presenting a valid ID to get your Birthday Boost.

Muffin Break

With the Muffin Break Rewards card or app, you can claim a free muffin during your birthday month. Register online or through the app.

But make sure you sign up for the rewards program before your birthday month starts. Once the first of the month has passed, you have to wait until the next year to be able to claim that yummy muffin. It pays to be prepared!

Nandos

Are you a Peri Perks member? Then you could get a free meal from Nandos!

You will need to have verified your Peri Perks account prior to the birthday month starting AND made a transaction on that account within 6 months prior to the start of your birthday month.

If you meet the criteria, you will get a special email in your inbox on the first day of your birthday month. It is able to be used at any time during the month. You can choose between a regular 1/4 chicken meal or any Burger/Wrap/Pita meal. This is one of the best freebies you can grab, so sign up now!

Subway

Be a part of the Eat Fresh Club and you get a regular Six Inch Sub and 600ml soft drink or water for free! Lunch is sorted.

It will be available right away after signing up and can be used any time during your birthday week. Activate the offer for your nominated store, show the voucher on your phone and that's it!

They are in the process of phasing out this club, so get in quick.

Mrs Fields

As with most freebies, you need to be a Club Cookie member. For this one you will have to pick up a club card in store before registering online, so not quite as easy as the rest. But once that is done, take your card along with some photo identification and you get a free birthday cookie!

Your goody can be redeemed within 7 days before or after the birthday that is shown on your ID.

Lord of the Fries

Would you like fries with that? Get a free regular size fries on your Birthday. You don't need to be a member either! Just flash your ID, buy a classic sauce, and get the fries for free.

Is there really anything better than deep fried potato? Even better when you don't have to pay for it. This is an easy one, so you have no excuse.

Salsas

Who doesn't love a free burrito? This is probably one of the better rewards, but not as easy to get.

To get this, you will need to pick up a loyalty card at your local Salsa’s. Register the card online through the Salsa’s Mex Club then present your card and ID in store within 2 days of the big day to get your birthday freebie.

I've also heard that you can get a bowl instead of a burrito, but unconfirmed at this time. Give it a try and let me know!

Sumo Salad

They say you don't make friends with salad. But why not when it's free?

You can get a free salad within 7 days starting from your birthday. To receive your birthday salad you need to be subscribed to their Sumo Society membership emails and have been a member for over 14 days.

You can sign up by picking up a card in store, or downloading and registering via the Sumo Salad app. The voucher will then be emailed to you when it's time to redeem!

Starbucks

Get a free drink at Starbucks on your birthday!

To be eligible, you must join Starbucks Rewards at least seven days before your birthday, and have made at least one Star-earning purchase prior to your birthday each year. You can only redeem this on your actual birthday, through an email that is sent to you 2 days prior.

Baskin Robbins

Get the scoop! The free birthday scoop, that is. Simply go to Club 31 website, register and be emailed with your exclusive reward 5 days before your birthday. It's valid a month from your birthday, so you can even save it for later.

As a plus, you’ll also receive a discount on a birthday cake. Plus a BOGO scoop offer when you sign up!

Hungry Jacks

Celebrate with a birthday Whopper! Simply download the HJ's app, register or login and complete your profile. Then three days before your birthday, they add in a voucher for a free Whopper. You can even pre-order it straight from the app up until your birthday.

Don't forget to also do the Shake & Win on the app, giving you the chance to also get some free fries or drink with your burger on the day. When you shake and accept, you have 30 mins to grab your food from the nearest HJ store.

San Churro

Get free churros or a $15 Churros Fiesta the day before, day of or day after your birthday. Just download the app, sign up at least the day before your birthday and the voucher should appear in the app on those days!

Then it's just a case of scan and enjoy. Yummmm.

T2

Pop in-store during the week of your birthday, flash your ID and T2 will shout you a free full-sized brew of your choice to celebrate!

Of course, you need to be a Tea Society member, but you don't need to wait. Sign up on the spot. And make sure to bring your own mug to help out the environment as well!

Free birthday ice cream from Baskin Robbins in front of the Sydney Harbour Bridge
Enjoying my free birthday scoop from Baskin Robbins

Special mention: Taronga Zoo

Get $1 entry to Taronga Zoo on your birthday!

Considering that entry to the Zoo isn't cheap, with tickets costing around $50, this is a steal! However, Taronga is not for profit and every Zoo ticket, even your $1 entry, helps Taronga to ensure a brighter future for wildlife.

You will need to register online first, but they send you the voucher via email pretty much straight away!

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