Merry & Meaningful; A Sustainable Holiday Gift Guide
Each and every year, right about now, humans from all over the world begin to deck the halls and light up their worlds, they start making lists and checking them twice while they cheerfully bake and wait for the most wonderful time of year.
However, from family gatherings, unwanted stress and drama, to gift buying and decorating, extra cleaning and the economic / environmental impacts, this last stretch of the calendar year can also leave many people feeling less than jolly.
Our holiday wish is that the coming days be merry + meaningful for you and yours. Discovering magic, not madness in the moments.
We don’t believe the holidays have to be a burden on you or the planet but instead can be used as an opportunity to consciously reflect on the ways in which we give as well as how and what we choose to share. With a little awareness, imagination and the following holiday guide we know that the season will be sustainable and sweet.
“It’s not about how much we give, but about how much love we put into gifting.” – John Ruhlin
Generosity is relational and not only about actions but a state of being. A thoughtful, intentional gift makes the receiver feel special and cared for and deepens connection.
Before you start mindless shopping or overthinking or impulse purchasing, stop and ask yourself, who are the people in my life I want to specifically acknowledge?
- Write their names down in a list.
- Write down a few words to describe them.
- Write down what they love and brings them joy
- Write down WHY you’d like to express gratitude for them in the form of a gift.
- Write down how you hope they feel [emotion/reaction] when they receive the gift.
Remember it’s the thought that counts, not the dollar amount.
More money does not equate to more meaning.
For something different this year...
Offer the gift of quality time
Enroll in a course or class
Donate to a cause or charity
Give upcycled or regifted items
Host a park, forest or beach clean up
Purchase a Provincial or National park pass
Memberships / subscriptions
Create homemade items
Share experiences or activities
Nature Based / Gardening gifts (houseplants, seedlings, plant a tree, bird feeder)
Consider doing acts of kindness
Perform helpful deeds around the home
Volunteer your skills out in the community
You are the gift and the giver.
Healthy holiday giving allows you to burn bright, not burn out!
It’s time to dismantle certain limiting beliefs and practices to energize and rediscover a path that values the giver as much as the gift.
Generous spirits realize the importance of extending generosity to themselves as well as others. Taking care of your own needs creates a deeper foundation for loving-kindness and compassion. You can minimize stress and overwhelm by shifting your mindset and using these techniques to help you stay calm and grounded when the holiday gets hectic.
Stop -- Breathe + Rest. Incorporate longer exhales than inhales to soothe your nervous system.
Slow Down -- Do less, BE More.
Simplify -- Create boundaries. Your yes means nothing if you don’t know how to say no.
Savor -- Mindfully use your senses. Enjoy the experiences and activities as much as you can for as long as you can.
Smile -- Helps reduce the level of stress-enhancing hormones like cortisol, adrenaline. Your brain instead releases dopamine, endorphins and serotonin. These neurotransmitters are associated with lowering your anxiety and increasing feelings of happiness.
Purchase with Purpose
When you spend your dollars at small businesses, you’re supporting real people and their passions and dreams. Many local products and brands have inspiring stories that are thoughtfully made, sourced, and designed to enrich your daily life. You can feel confident knowing that your purchase is good for both you and the planet. Shopping small benefits the economic prosperity and self-sufficiency of a community and contributes to efforts that reduce environmental footprint.
The Den is home to many diversely talented entrepreneurs and artists, Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour creatives who offer beautiful, well-considered products. As conscious consumers we have the power to elevate BIPOC owned businesses & invest money into these communities to encourage growth. You can also support them by actively choosing to share their unique gifts and stories with those you love.
Apprenti Organik - Therapeutic body care line made with natural and organic ingredients. Apprenti’s mission is to raise awareness against harmful chemicals and artificial components existing in our everyday products while promoting healthy and earth-friendly living.
Skwalwen Botanicals - A luxury Indigenous brand creating botanical skin care products. Honouring traditional Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish) plant knowledge, we incorporate sustainably harvested and sourced plants and organic, high quality ingredients.
Loa Skin - Born out of the need to empower people from all walks of life to overcome their skin adversity and claim their inherent right to natural beauty
Kikuchi Soap - Small-batch botanical soaps handmade using the cold process method, and traditional Japanese techniques and recipes, with quality botanical-based ingredients that are carefully selected for each batch.
Low Waste, Big Impact
By purchasing items that are earth-friendly you reduce the harm caused in the short-term or long-term both environmentally and socially. Helping to educate others to adopt buying habits with sustainability in mind is not only good for the planet, but for promoting higher standards for production and consumption in the future. Typically, individuals are unaware of the many alternative products that exist, or default to habitually buying what they know and are already using.
Our Package Free Bundles or Refillable Home Starter Kits - Kitchen, Bathroom, Laundry and Cleaning Products are perfect for educating and helping transition a household or maintain a low waste lifestyle. These customizable kits make every day swaps convenient and easy for the receiver https://thedenucluelet.com/collections/zero-waste-bundles
Green Gift Wrap
The most sustainable gift is of course one that has no packaging at all; however, everyone loves a pretty present under the tree. Should you wish to wrap, try to make it a special and thoughtful process, even a ritual, full of unique warmth and energy.
Synthetic chemicals and dyes used to produce most traditional wrapping paper along with the glitter and gold makes it unfortunately unsuitable for recycling or composting. We recommend getting creative and inspired in these ways to help support the Earth:
Choose to Reuse - Find items around your home that can be repurposed such as cardboard/wooden boxes, straw/woven baskets, glass jars, tins, newsprint, old maps, book pages, sheet music, beeswax wraps or compostable brown kraft paper.
Get Fancy with Fabric - We love Furoshiki which is the art of Japanese gift wrapping and you can use things like scarves, tea towels, handkerchiefs, large cloth napkins which are all great for the planet and serve as a bonus gift. When practicing Furoshiki technique, the first step is to mindfully still your mind and as you fold and tie the fabric, focus on the person for whom the gift is intended.
Back to Basics - Sometimes gift bags are the easiest and most simple option. Pop your gift into an Eco-friendly muslin produce bag, beautiful mesh grocery bags, multi-purpose cotton market totes or Uashmama storage bag. These can all be used over and over again!
Earth Elements - Give your gift a touch of Nature by applying decorations such as leaves, branches, spruce sprigs or cedar boughs, dried flowers, acorns, pine cones, cinnamon sticks, dried citrus or berries. When borrowing items from the land, practice the principles of honourable harvest such as viewing it as kin, rather than just a resource. Always ask permission and use only what you need.
Wherever and however you choose to honour the season, we hope you enjoy the people and places that matter most to you!
Be sure to drop into the shop to say hello or connect with us online, our team would love to share in your holiday fun.
Merry everything + happy always.
Photos by Andi Wardrop
Words by Jess Leblanc