Gifting Without Garbage
Over the past couple of years, we have been much more interested in giving experiences, rather than material goods. Of course there are always tickets to sporting events, musicals and concerts that come to mind, but there are so many other ways to get creative when planning gifts. Below, I’ve listed some of the ways we have gifted time and experiences:
Cookies & Cards My grandparents are much more excited about spending time with us than getting little gifts. They also have a sweet tooth! Because of this, I wanted their gift to include both treats and quality time. Their Christmas gift was a coupon that said: At 4 pm on the first Sunday of every month, we will deliver a dozen cookies and play card games for a couple hours.
Ice Cream Sundate
We are big fans of the Sundate (Sunday + date) at my house, and ice cream can only add to the fun. This is a perfect gift for the ice cream lovers in your life, don't be thrown off by the word date! Take a jar into the ice cream store, and order their favorite type. Most stores charge per scoop, so they will put it in your jar and charge you the standard price per scoop, depending how much you get. You can make this a one time gift, where you fill a large jar. Or, to ensure more bonding time, deliver them a scoop (or two) one Sunday each month. You can experiment and try new flavors each time, or stick with what you like!
Zoo Membership My husband is a zoo lover. Each year, he gets a Friends of the Zoo membership so he can visit as frequently as he wants! There are many different membership options, and can include couples, families and the rides.
Farmers Market Do you have a friend that loves going to the farmers market? Gift them a coffee and breakfast at a nearby restaurant, so when they go load up on groceries, they can enjoy a nice meal! Or make plans to take them to breakfast and go to the farmers market together! If you haven't noticed, I'm all about quality time!
Local Winery There are amazing wineries all over with tasting rooms. We gave a “voucher” for a free wine tasting at a local winery and favorite bottle of their choice. This was so much fun, because it encouraged us to schedule bonding time, and then go to a winery together! Then, send them home with a bottle of their favorite wine to enjoy!
Local Brewery There are constantly new breweries popping up all over the city. Most offering ways to sample different styles. One great gift option is a beer flight and growler of choice. Growlers are perfect for zero waste beer. Breweries will fill the growler up for you so you can enjoy beer without having to worry about bottles and cans. There are now some liquor stores with the same option.
Coffee Lover’s Dream There are so many coffee shops constantly popping up all around us. For one of the coffee lovers in our life, we gave certificates for a drink at a number of shops to try. Instead of giving gift certificates, you can have the person pick dates and meet them at a different shop each time. This is another great way to get built in bonding time!!!
Planning dates for a couple is also so much fun. Whether you join them, or give gift-certificates, this is a great way to give an excuse to go on a date! Here are two dates we have gifted as ideas:
Museum & Lunch There is a local museum with an amazing restaurant inside. This was a perfect opportunity for the couple to explore the museum and then had a gift certificate for lunch.
Dinner & Dessert There is a new restaurant in a trendy part of town that is across the street from a bakery. We got gift certificates for both places, so they will can eat dinner and go across the street for dessert!
Encourage the adventurous people in your life to try new things!
Fitness and Meditation Class Options Not every gift has to revolve around food. Many people may be trying to strive for a healthier lifestyle. For people like this, gift them workout classes or a gym membership. Many places offer punch cards, where you can prepay for a set amount of classes. If someone is still not sure what type of exercise they like, buy them a few different types of classes to try, like boxing, cycling, yoga, rock climbing, meditation, etc.
Lessons and Classes We are never too old to learn a new skill! They have classes in so many different areas, there is an option for everyone. There are one class options, or an entire course! My father-in-law and I took an 8 week watercolor course at the local art institute. My brother took a class about making gnocchi. My best friend has taken multiple cooking classes. A local cafe offers many different coffee classes. If there is something they have expressed interest in, give them a class or lessons to learn more. Do they want to travel to France? Gift them a french course. Are they intrigued by handmade ceramics? Send them to a class to learn to make their own. Even if they are end up being really terrible at whatever the skill may be, it’s always fun to try new things!
If there is a person in your life who prefers “things” over experiences, there are a few ways to gift these things without creating waste.
Homemade Goods If being in the kitchen feels like torture, this is not the section for you. Skip to the “Local Bakeries” section below. I love to bake, so love to give people baked goods! I get the same sense of relaxation in the kitchen as I do in yoga. There are so many options and varieties of things you can make, so you can have so much fun with this. Whether you give them a “voucher” for a dozen cookies of their choice whenever they want, or just surprise them with a batch on the spot, treats are never a bad idea.
If you have friends that love to host bonfires, make them homemade marshmallows, and deliver them in a jar! Did you and your sibling used to eat pop tarts together every morning? Make them a homemade batch! I also really like to make pasta. For my friends that don’t have a sweet tooth, I give them dried pasta. I have friends that love making strawberry jam out of the berries they pick from their garden, so they gift jars of jam each year. Sometimes these amazing homemade goods become traditions that people are so excited about! Alex’s aunt and uncle have a huge garden that produces lots of green beans, so they gift jars to his family each year! I have never seen a group of people as excited about green beans as I am. These beans bring them so much joy, and so will your homemade goods!
Local Bakeries If you don’t like to bake (or you failed on your homemade goods, as mentioned above), take a container with you to the local bakery and get their favorite baked goods! You can present them on a platter or in a jar. Surprise them in the morning with breakfast, or the evening with dessert! Really, when isn’t a good time to gift someone their favorite treats?! If your local bakery makes incredible loaves of bread, get someone a few different types to try.
Local Goods Supporting local businesses is great for the community. Recently, I was given jars of local jam, marmalade and bruschetta that are all made in Kansas City! Instead of being wrapped in waste, they were tied together using a tea towel, which looked adorable. There are so many uses for tea towels around my house, this was perfect for me! The jars are amazing to reuse for homemade staples! Almost anywhere you go you can track down a market with local products. Forego the usual junky souvenirs and bring home some local specialty goods!
Every year my dad goes on a fishing trip. There is an amish store in a really small town on the way that he always visits, because they have some of the best canned goods! He brings them home so we can enjoy them together, which is such a treat!
Plants Gift a plant to bring new life to their home. As for the flower pot, if you don't have one on hand, go to a thrift store or repurpose something else you have on hand! Recently, I used an old can (that was awaiting its time in a recycling facility) as my flower pot.
Secondhand Shopping Zero waste doesn’t mean you cannot gift things. It’s just places more focus on shopping responsibly. Shopping pre-owned doesn’t mean poor quality or poor condition. Majority of the things you would buy brand new you can find secondhand. There are many well cared for items that people have owned (and in some cases, never used) and I am not just talking clothes here. Many things you wouldn’t normally think of, like jewelry. My wedding band, for example, was pre-owned. Our local jeweler has a whole section of “estate” jewelry that houses some of the most beautiful pieces, many of which are very high quality. Normally these pieces have no sign of wear, and the only reason you know it’s an estate piece is because they tell you.
Have you ever gifted dates or experiences? If so, share your ideas and I will add them to this reference sheet, so next time we need to come up with a gift, we will have this resource to look back on!