How to give gifts sustainably this Christmas

  • 28 November, 2022
  • News

Dorothy House volunteer Eliza Howell gives us a how-to guide on sustainable gifting this Christmas.

This year I’ve successfully completed my goal of buying only second-hand clothing. Now I’m really keen to practice what I preach and take this pursuit of a more sustainable lifestyle through to Christmas.

I love this time of year – it’s all so wonderfully nostalgic. But there’s one thing the festive season is definitely not – sustainable. It’s frightening to think how much waste is generated during the Christmas period – unwanted gifts, uneaten food, unnecessary wrapping which just gets discarded and far, far too much plastic.

So, to help us all enjoy a more sustainable Christmas I’ve come up with some helpful ideas for guilt-free gifting.

how to give gifts sustainably this christmas

Second-hand shopping

Charity shops are wonderful places to pick up unique and vintage pieces, with the added bonus that you can be sure your friends or family won’t receive the same gift twice. Charity shops don’t just sell clothes, in fact at our Dorothy House shops we have a whole range of things that would make brilliant presents for every age, such as:

  • handbags
  • jewellery
  • games and puzzles
  • books
  • photo frames
  • candles
  • vases
  • mugs

Asking family and friends what they actually need is such a great idea (especially during the cost-of-living crisis) – allowing you to give a gift that is both wanted and required. Everyday items that are needed are often even more appreciated than unnecessary luxuries. Whether it’s a cosy teapot for a nice hot cuppa, or a hearty casserole dish for a family feast – many of these kinds of gifts can be found in your local charity shop.

Not only will choosing charity shops at this time of year help you become more sustainable, but they’ll also save you money and give you the feel-good factor, knowing you’ve supported a deserving charity.

Plus, why not treat yourself whilst you’re there? Our Dot Shop is offering 3 for 2 on all womenswear!


If someone you know is into spa-like self-indulgence, then check out the Ubiety body care and home fragrance range. It’s vegan, UK-made and all natural. They’ve got scented candles, hand lotions, body salves, lip balms and much more. With all of Ubiety’s profits going to Dorothy House Hospice Care you can double up on the feel-good factor!

Ubiety items

Shop local

Buying gifts at independent shops is not only a lovely way to spend your time in the run-up to Christmas, but it also helps to support small businesses and the local economy. This is vital at a time of year when global online retailers are the ‘go-to’ for those last-minute gift purchases. Local shopping is far more sustainable, as online shopping can involve long distance delivery, unnecessary packaging and often workers receive low pay.

Local places to visit include independent bookshops, vintage shops, farm shops, garden centres and of course, Christmas fairs and markets.

Gift vouchers for local shops, restaurants and activities

It’s always nice to have some things in the diary to look forward to after the festive period is over. Giving your friends and family vouchers to local restaurants and shops is guaranteed to give them an experience they’ll enjoy –- my friends and I often forgo presents and instead go out for dinner together somewhere local in January.

Alternatively, you could give vouchers for a new experience to try, like pottery or wine tasting. There are many websites nowadays, such as Yuup which is based in Bristol and Bath, where you can find inspiration and allow you to support the local economy.

gift wrap sustainably this christmas

Sustainable gift-wrapping

Once you’ve chosen your gifts, you could try swapping the usual shiny Christmas wrapping paper (which is hard to recycle) for recycled brown paper. To give it a more festive feel you could tie it up with reusable coloured ribbons for a traditional Dickensian look.

For gifts that will be opened on Christmas Day, you could simply pop them in a second-hand pretty pillowcase – with the added bonus of saving you time wrapping the gifts when you could be peeling the potatoes.

Don’t leave it until the last minute…

Preparation is key! Shopping sustainably does take a little more time – a precious commodity at this time of year. However, shopping sustainably needn’t add to the seasonal stress. It’s so easy to get swept up in the festivities but taking a few simple steps towards sustainability can do wonderful things for your pocket, your conscience and the environment.

For more of Eliza’s Sustainable Shopping tips – head to her Instagram page.

To locate your nearest Dorothy House Shop – click here.