In an ideal world we’d all hand make, grow or bake beautiful gifts for our loved ones, wrapping would be minimal and batteries not required… The reality is a bit different for most of us unless you are a very organised crafter with a fair amount of spare time. So here are a few ideas for making your gift buying more sustainable – don’t feel guilty, just do what you can.

Our top tips for more sustainable gift buying

1. Buy less & buy well. Shopping for Christmas can be stressful, especially if you have a large number of people to buy for. Set up a list, as early as you can bear to think about it and jot down ideas for each person as you see them. A little planning helps avoid last minute panic buying of inappropriate presents!

5. Buy fewer ‘gift sets’. Sometimes gift sets represent really good value for money – like when you pay the normal price of one product such as a bottle of perfume and you get an extra product free. However many gift sets don’t offer extra value (or contain ‘freebies’ you wouldn’t ever use) and they are usually heavily over-packaged.

2. Look at the materials. We mention plastic a lot, but yes – avoid as much of it as possible. Gifts made of glass, wood or other natural, sustainable materials are a good idea. Bamboo for example can be made into anything from soft clothing to stands for your tech devices.

6. Consider creating your own personalised gift basket or hamper. Find a re-useable container – jute / hessian bags are great because they then have another life as a shopping bag – or a box. Fill it with things you know the recipient will like. Only use internal packaging to keep items safe. Use tissue or the packaging you kept from a parcel you were sent.

3. Look at where it comes from. Buy local where you can, it supports local businesses and cuts down on shipping.

7. Consider giving experiences. No need for the pre-packaged type with the fancy box. Either get the company you’re buying the tickets from to give you a gift certificate, or make one yourself.

4. Avoid total ‘novelty’ presents. Everyone loves a giggle, but you know the kind of thing we mean, usually made of plastic and will end up in a drawer a few days after Christmas. If you want to make someone smile, buy them a funny book, a game or a puzzle. Or fill a multi-window frame with photos of happy times.

8. How about giving your time or expertise? Draw or print a ‘gift certificate’ saying what the gift is – so many hours babysitting for parents who struggle to get out for example, help decorating a room or doing some gardening – the possibilities are endless. This is also a nice idea for children who want to give gifts to family members, just help them work out what they can do.