It’s almost Christmas, that wonderful time of the year where you have to spend hours walking around the malls and break your head to find “meaningful” gifts that will most probably end up in the trash anyway, or at best, be re-used for someone else’s birthday.
If you think gifts are part of the magic, think again. There are many other ways we can show our attention to someone that are not involving wasting money, energy and the planet’s shrinking resources.
I think Asians are way smarter : they gift red envelopes with money inside for Chinese New Year and most celebrations. That way people can buy what they really want or need.
I’ve tried giving money to people who really need it rather than to people I was supposed to gift, but that might be pushing the idea a bit too far. I’m still not sure what my dad really thought of my gift two years ago… when I made him the sponsor of the education of an unprivileged school girl in Sri Lanka.
So I came up with some better ideas that could inspire you to make your Christmas gifts matter this year :
Buy fair trade products from social businesses
You can gift fair trade products so that at least a decent part of your money is going to artisans and farmers in developing countries.
Here are a few fair trade boutiques that deliver to Singapore and/or Belgium:
- Soko (US) : beautiful luxury jewels with contemporary designs, crafted by artisans in Kenya. They have gift sets. It takes 7-12 business days to ship to Europe or Singapore and costs 20$.
- Raven & Lilly (US): fair trade fashion, accessories and home goods. The brand helps to empower 1500 artisan women around the world. Additionnaly, every purchase helps fund microloans to female entrepreneurs. Shipping cost varies according to the type of shipping (priority, express…)
- So Just Shop (UK): an accessories, homeware and gifting marketplace working directly with women-led artisans from some of the most vulnerable communities in the world. Shipping takes 7 to 10 days to Europe.
- Zerrin (Singapore) : fashion and accessories that are socially or environmentally conscious – from clothing made from eco-friendly fabrics like organic cotton, tencel and bamboo, to hand made jewellry or organic skincare that gives back to communities. The products are expensive but they are very high quality and have unique designs. Free 3-4 days delivery to Singapore.
- Tesselate.co (Singapore): handcrafted jewellery.Most pieces feature high quality semi-precious stones that are individually handpicked. They work only with fair trade artisans and at the same time commit to empowering disadvantaged girls through education. For every item sold, Tessellate.Co donates a dollar to their partner Fior Di Loto, a non-profit organisation in India that improves the lives of over 500 village girls. Free delivery worldwide, shipping takes 3-5 days to Singapore and 5-20 days elsewhere.
- The Third Estate (UK) : beautiful products from fashion to accessories. They keep a balance between working with innovative ethically-minded brands which are manufactured under fair labour conditions overseas whilst also supporting UK design and production. Can be shipped to Belgium and most countries in Europe.
- Thread Harvest (Australia) : an online store where you can shop according to your values. They partner with Australian and international brands such as Soko and Raven + Lily and many more.
Buy products that can change habits
I’ve received a few gifts that I found very useful such as a reusable straw, washable cotton pads to remove make-up, and solid shampoos from Lush. They help to change habits and made me discover how hygiene products can be eco-friendly.
There is also solid toothpaste, solid deodorants, bamboo toothbrushes, “oriculis” instead of Q-tips, non plastic shopping bags etc.
- Zoe Essentiels (French) : here is an online shop where you can buy all these stuff, and you can even buy Christmas gift boxes. Shipping only to France and Belgium.
- Lush (UK) is the go to place for hand-made solid shampoos, soaps, solid perfumes etc. They also have stores in Singapore now.
- Les Tendances d’Emma (France) sells the reusable cotton pads I’ve received. It was packaged very nicely in wooden box and a tissue bag. They seem to only deliver to France though.
- The Sustainability Project (Singapore) : an online shop that aims to encourage and inspire the adoption of low or zero waste lifestyle.
Offer experiences instead of gifts
That can be :
- a dinner at the restaurant (for example this one in Singapore : Open Farm)
- a cooking class
- a ticket for a concert or a show
- a skydiving experience
- a spa / massage session
Hope that gave you some inspiration !
Share with me if you have other ideas or comments on gifts that matter !