Alternatives to Gifting ‘Stuff’ for Christmas

We’ve entered December so the festive season is upon us.

We will need to start thinking about Christmas presents for friends and family, if we haven’t already.

But, for some, the idea of buying gifts for someone else can be difficult because you may not know what they actually want or need and may just buy something for the sake of buying something. They’ll receive something they don’t want or need and may probably end up sitting in a wardrobe gathering dust. Or worse, destined for landfill.

I wrote a blog last year after I shockingly discovered that £42 million of unwanted Christmas presents are thrown out in landfill each year. Not only is this bad for the environment, but it’s such a waste of money, especially as many of us are in a cost of living crisis.

The idea we need to buy ‘something’ has got to end and start thinking about what we gift instead.

After putting my thinking cap on, here are a few suggestions.


What if you gave your time instead? Maybe they need some help with something?

  • Car Maintenance – Do they need their tyre pressure or oil checked? Maybe it could need a quick clean inside or outside
  • Baby/child sitting – Do they have children and need an evening out? Maybe you could look after the little ones while they are out. They’ll also be leaving their child/children with someone they trust.
  • Paperwork organisation – do they have a massive pile of paperwork that needs to be sorted and organised? or even shredded?
  • DIY jobs – If you’re an electrician or a dab hand with a hammer, maybe they need a picture putting up or a bit of tiling done. Or their windows cleaned.


This is a great way to get them out of the house, maybe they could do with an evening out?

  • Cinema tickets – There’s probably a film they would like to see but haven’t gotten around to it. If you buy them tickets or vouchers, they have no excuse. Plus, if they have kids, you could babysit while they’re out.
  • Restaurant vouchers – Is there somewhere they haven’t been for a while? Maybe you could get them some vouchers for a meal out, they don’t. haveto worry about the washing up either.
  • Bowling night – This is a great way for one or more families to enjoy a night out. It’s also great fun with kids and who doesn’t like a bit of competition?
  • Afternoon tea – There’s nothing better than getting together with friends and having a bit of tea, cake and sandwiches.

Food and Drink

This is a great one for a friend or family who is struggling with their food bill.

  • Hamper – These go down really well because they’re affordable for various budgets and the variety in hampers mean there’s something for everyone.
  • Bake a cake – if you’re a good baker, maybe you could bake a cake and this could be your gift?
  • Supermarket gift card – Many of us are struggling with the increase in the cost of food and drink, a supermarket gift card would come in really handy.
  • Fruit basket – what’s healthier than a fruit basket?


There are some one-off courses that are held at local collages or community centres and can be a great gift. One year, I bought myself and DSLR camera and my partner bought me a short course on how to use it.

  • Calligraphy – Has your friend ever mentioned about learning calligraphy?
  • Microsoft Packages – Do they need a little refresher course on how to use Microsoft packages?
  • Art / Watercolour – Is your friend arty and would like to learn the basics?

If you put your thinking cap on, I bet you’ll come up with loads of ideas. Also, if something is a little pricey, maybe would you and another friend could team up and buy the gift together. Or you could look at a DIY project?

I created a Household Waste Analysis to help identify what we throw away and what we could change. Feel free to check it out – it’s FREE!

These are some ideas that work for me but may not work for everyone. Here are my terms & conditions for further reading

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