Sustainable Gift Guide – Christmas 2020

Disclaimer: None of the products are in any way sponsored, or part of a collaboration. I am simply sharing brands and pieces I love, own or wish for myself.

Thirty-eight days until Christmas, the most magical time of the year! The wonderful scent of freshly baked gingerbread fills the air, fairy lights brighten up the night sky while we celebrate with a glass of mulled wine (or spiced hot apple juice with a drop or two of Amaretto) and watch the children play in the snow – wishful thinking (!). The radio airs glorious Christmas songs and everyone’s favourite films (Polar Express, A Christmas Carol, Home Alone and co.) play on TV. But most importantly, we are together with our loved ones – and I am not yet giving up believing that it will not change this year.

Ever since I can remember I have found more joy in gifting than receiving. It has however, turned out to be more difficult each year as everyone seems to already have everything they need and personally, I have never seen any value in buying for the sake of spending money. At the end of the day, it’s the thought that counts, right? Now, that I have moved a few 800 miles away from what used to be home, I have to carefully consider gifts that do not only come from the heart, but apply to international travel restrictions. So, in the past years we have usually opted for cooking classes, escape rooms or theatre shows. However, due to the current climate, I have decided to focus a little more on physical presents although, if you can, I would always vote for experiences!

This year, fingers crossed (!), we have decided to drive through three countries rather than flying in an enclosed space with hundreds of other passengers and this decision has magically opened up unlimited opportunities! So here it is, a simple gift guide for Christmas 2020, designed for anyone who wishes to support small businesses, invest in timeless pieces and materials that are kind to both people and planet. Ho ho ho!

Welcome, to the world of wonders.

O L D B U T G O L D

I wish for it to be normal to gift vintage, antique and secondhand presents. Just because something is not new, does not mean that any less thought went into it. Many products, especially for children, can be found in magnificent conditions on places like Facebook Marketplace, eBay, Vinted, Etsy or your local charity shop. And if you think about it, do you really need a brand new book, board game, wooden toy car or dress up costume – what would be so terribly wrong with a used one? The same applies to gift wrapping, save up the kraftpaper from online orders, stamp with carved potatoes, add a bow and pine tree twigs and off you go!

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M E M O R Y M A K I N G

Team experiences here! I know it can be a little difficult to buy tickets for the cinema, a theatre show, football game or festival as you do not know whether those events will take place at all. There are other options though, that can ensure that you won’t miss the date!

Voucher for your local cinema, theatre or favourite restaurant | National Trust Membership (valid for one year and lots of outdoor spaces included) | Virtual cooking classes (Plates at Home , Mixology or Bread Ahead) | Book in regular dates to watch films or bake together over Skype

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B O O K S

Books are truly magnificent for all ages as they invite us on beautifully illustrated journeys, informative discoveries or breathtaking adventures from the comfort of our home. I have recently discovered a handful of UK based online bookstores that allow you to support independent bookshops with every sale made (hive.co.uk) or an array of well preserved secondhand books for a fraction of the price (abebooks.co.uk). In the past few years I have started avoiding global monsters such as Amazon and decided to use my voice (or money) to help my local high street stores survive – and you can do the same this year!

Books for children

Me and My Fear by Francesca Sanna | Old Enough to Save the Planet by Anna Taylor & Adelina Lirius | My Friend Earth by Patricia MacLachlen | Pick a Pine Tree by Patricia Toht | Little Leaders by Vashti Harrison | The Journey by Francesca Sanna | This Is How We Do It by Matt Lamothe | Last Day on the Reindeer Express by Maudie Powell-Tuck & Karl James Mountford

Books for adults

Simply Living Well by Julia Watkins | Becoming by Michelle Obama | A Modern Herbal by Alys Fowler | Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge | A Life On Our Planet by David Attenborough | The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin | The Kindness Method by Shahroo Izadi

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W E L L – B E I N G

Wellbeing, both mental and physical is such a gift in itself. After a year like this one, that has changed, challenged and shaped us all in some way or another, there is nothing more precious that you could wish for than a little something to promote your wellbeing. Last Christmas we treated ourselves with a diffuser and despite the investment, we have never looked back. There are high-quality essentials oils for any occasion, to calm you down, lift up your spirits, freshen up the room (especially now, that we spent so much time indoors during lockdown) or to clear a cold. Or how about a paraffin-free candle to embrace a little hygge in your home?

Deliciously (naturally) scented and handpoured candles, tealights and soya wax melts from the heart of Shaftesbury, UK. They also sell homeware goods from other small businesses. Secret Santa Tip: Half Light Candle, Green Fig Tealights, First Light Reed Diffuser, Rain Letterpress Printed Luxury Matches

The body and mind apothecary of my dreams. Yellow Gorse are located at the south coast of England and make anything your heart desires, from essential diffuser oils, natural bath soaks, and facial masks to balms and pillow mists. Secret Santa Tip: Calm Aromatherapy Oil, Relax & Unwind Herbal Bath Soak, Face Mist, Lemon & Chamomile Sleep Elixier

A family run business producing the prettiest plastic-free soaps, hair conditioners, face masks, lip balms and baby bum creams. A must for any environmentally-conscious family. Secret Santa Tip: Organic Broccoli & Rose Geranium Conditioner, Argan Beauty Balm, White Clay Mask, Charcoal Detox Soap

A personal go-to for natural skin & body care. Wideye are based in Rye, Bournemouth and Brighton and make gorgeous bath bombs, soaps, oil-based perfumes, nail varnish removers (in glass bottles!), shower gel, body butter and more. All without the use of chemicals and plastic. Secret Santa Tip: Golden Spice Bath Bomb, Nose Candy Perfume Roller

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M I N D & B O D Y

Following the wellbeing part of the guide, I would like to focus some more on promoting health and preventing illness. I suffer from panic attacks and anxiety and have been in really dark places before. On days when an overload of worries covers me like a cocoon and I feel like I cannot breathe, I try to take a step back, listen to a podcast to re-focus my mind and follow a yoga session to root my thoughts and reduce any body tension. I know this might not work for everyone, as we are all different but I would definitely recommend trying it out if you haven’t yet. You can find my favourite podcasts here.

The first circular yoga mat entirely made from recycled materials in collaboration with a workplace for people with a handicap. The mats are produced in Germany, ship climate-neutral and are recyclable at the end of their lifespan. Each purchase donates 1€ to the social initiative Earthchild Project. Secret Santa Tip: Rather Light HejHej Mat

Yoga matters offers eco-friendly yoga accessories and clothing. Secret Santa Tip: Cork Brick, Asana Yoga Cards

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B E A U T Y

We do not need any products or accessories to make us feel pretty, as we are all beautiful the way we are, but let’s be honest – a little jewelry or natural makeup every now and then can lift tiredness and boost self-confidence. I have never been a big one for bling-bling which is why I adore handmade, minimalist pieces that I can wear for many years to come.

This little studio is based in London and uses recycled silver and gold to make minimalist, timeless pieces for you to cherish. The packaging is completely plastic-free and recyclable. Secret Santa Tip: Silver Eternity Ring, 9ct Gold Textured Circle Necklace, Silver Star and Moon Studs

Stilnest make to order to avoid overproduction and only accept recycled gold which is melted in Antwerpen, Belgium. Secret Santa Tip: Eden Lemon Seal Necklace, Petite Paw Charm Choker, Mom Boss Necklace

A German small business founded to focus on sustainable materials, plastic-free packaging, resource conservation and low CO2 emissions. Products range from jewellery to bags (made from cork and pineapples!) Secret Santa Tip: Fold Backpack Cork, Ysea Speckled Earrings, Pinatex Card Case

Based in Finland, Havu make the most beautiful lipsticks in thirteen different shades. I am still using the one I got for Christmas last year in red. What makes them so special? They are free from perfumes and or preservatives, contain only natural waxes and oils and come in reusable wooden cases. Secret Santa Tip: Red, Nude and Peach

Zao literally cover any type of makeup you might need, from mascara, eyeliners and -shadows to primers, blush, BB cream and nail varnish. All products are made of natural, hypoallergenic and organic ingredients, are packaged in bamboo and can be refilled to avoid waste. Secret Santa Tip: Refillable Aloe Vera Mascara, Refillable Felt Tip Eyeliner, Vegan Refillable Lip Gloss

This vegan and cruelty-free UK beauty brand, makes 100% natural skincare products by repurposing byproducts from other industries that would otherwise go to waste, such as coffee grounds, maple bark extract, date seed extract and more. Secret Santa Tip: Cleansing Face Balm, Plasticfree Safety Razor, Cinnamon Ginger & Chai Soap Bar

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K I D S

I do not have children of my own (yet), but I do have a lot of family with little ones and soon-to-be parents in my close circle of friends. You can find a handful of lovingly curated baby brands and shops below that have their own, wonderful selection of Christmas gifts for children of all ages.

Little Homes | Kidly | Nature’s Little Ones | Acorn & Pip | Norishor | Wool & Cream | Scandiborn | Natural Babyshower | Avery Row | Dawn and Day | The Modern Nursery | The Little Natural Co | Mutha.Hood

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H O M E W A R E

It is no secret that I love nordic, scandi-inspired and timeless interior design and a neutral colour palette. If you’re like me, you are lucky as I have linked my beloved UK based homeware stores below, but encourage you to browse secondhand stores and platforms, such as eBay, Facebook Marketplace, Vinterior or your local charity shop,

The concept store was founded in 2013 and believes in the beauty, simplicity, quality and sustainability of handpicked items. Secret Santa Tip: Tara Star Flags, Forge Handmade Trees, Caramel Check Cushion Cover, Natural Linen Slippers

The Future Kept collaborates with makers, designers and artisans to create products that are better for the planet and hopes to inspire people to make more ethical choices. Secret Santa Tip: Autumna Incense Cones, Everyday Macramé Bag, First Light Ceramic Tea Bowl, Gardener’s Balm, Natural Linen Tea Towel

Tartan Blanket uses 100% recycled materials to make blankets and scarfs as soft as candy floss and donate 2% of all revenue to help protect our wonderful planet and support those in need! Secret Santa Tip: Recycled Wool King Size Blanket in Natural Herringbone, Lambswool Baby Blanket in Mackellar Tartan, Lambswool Oversized Scarf in Camel

Nkuku is a lifestyle store that works with independent artisans from Devon to Asia who create natural pieces for the home. You can even find all the talented makers on their page! Secret Santa Tip: Namba Leather Travel Journal, Emmet Brass Letter Opener, Chana Mango Wood Decorations, Tabwa Fern Candle Holder

ILDN sells homewares that celebrate a slower pace of living – and who would say no to that? Secret Santa Tip: Snowflake Crackle Glaze Bowl, Organic Cotton Washcloth in Off-White, Bento Bag Set in Organic Cotton

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F O O D & D R I N K S

They say food is the key to someone’s heart, so why not send a box of indulgent pastries or savoury treats to your loved ones?

Food

Vicarage Bakes (Brownies) | Riverford (Organic Recipe boxes) | Berry and Brie (Grazing Board in a Box) | Blushing Cook (Floral Brownies)

Drinks

Grumpy Mule (Coffee) | Prana Chai (Chai Blends) | Rhoeco (Organic Tea with plantable packaging)

1 Poppy Seed Flower Bowl by The Future Kept 2 Honey Dipper by The Future Kept 3 Blanket by Tartan Blanket Co. 4 Beeswax Candles by Tea and Kate 5 Simply Living Well by Hive Books 6 Linen Tea Towel by Ingredients London 7 Autumna Incense Cones by The Future Kept 8 Argan Beauty Balm by Wild Sage and Co. 9 Washable Paper Bag by WarmGreyCompany on Etsy 10 Peach Lipstick by Havu Cosmetics 11 Yoga Mat by HejHej-Mats 12 Rain Letterpress Matches by The Botanical Candle Co. 13 Macrame Bag by The Future Kept 14 Vegan Blend by Prana Chai 15 Wooden Rattle by Wool & Cream 16 Colour Me Kids Crayons by Dawn and Day

I hope you are able to find some last-minute gifts from my guide but above all, I wish you all a magical, healthy Christmas.

Love, Mel X