The holidays are just around the corner which means many of us will be buying gifts for our families. I for one love the holidays as a time to spend with family and to give gifts to those that I love, because it is my love language! However, I am of the opinion that much gift giving is rooted in consumerism. This Ultimate Gift Guide for low-impact families is also for anyone trying to stick to a budget. Seven ways I save with low-impact giving: I buy used, I buy clearance, I buy sustainably made, I buy local and small, I buy durable, and I think outside of the box.
Disclaimer: The following post contains affiliate links to products I personally recommend and love. Purchasing through these links supports my family both during the holidays and all year long. Thank you for your purchases!
Eco-friendly Christmas Buying Guide
Shop around at your local thrift stores and find great deals on toys that your children will love. Ask each store when they get new shipments in and if they carry the leftovers from chain stores. One GoodWill near my house sells the leftovers from Target so I get new Target merchandise at Thrift prices all the time.
I have gone into stores on the day they got in new toys to find brand new items and awesome toys that all the pieces were there! Attending a local Just Between Friends sale is also a great way to score gently used toys and clothes.
Scan craigslist and see if there’s a great item, OR put out an “in search of” ad on craigslist — be sure you include your max price. Graze garage sales and online garage sale sites such as local facebook swap groups.
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Buying clearance means that you are not indicating to the manufacturer that they need to make more of that product. This is a great way to get some new items at discount without feeding the beast of consumerism.
Buy Sustainably Made
Find great products that are made of wood and not plastic, that are painted with natural paint, and/or that utilize renewable resources. One of my favorite toy brands is PLAN toys. They make great wooden toys with vibrant, but natural colors.
Another great toy manufacturer is HABA. Their toys are great quality and I highly recommend them; my daughter has loved their magica rattle since she was 4 months old. Make sure that you are researching where they are made. Standards and guidelines of manufacture are hugely important! For instance, while Melissa & Doug products can be great because they are wooden, I choose not to buy them because they are made in China and have been known to have lead in their paint.
Read more: Best Eco-Friendly toy companies
Buy Local/Buy Small
Buying local means that you are putting money back into your economy.
Buy small means buy from a small business (or someone you trust like a mom blogger [wink*wink]).
No, these don’t necessarily help with consumerism, but it at least benefits the community in which you live or supports people you care about. Participate in Small Business Saturday this year and pay in cash if possible! This helps those local shops that you love stay afloat because they’re not having to pay card fees.
Buy something that is quality made that can last for generations. This means that maybe a child doesn’t have 10 gifts to open, only 5, but that each one is of a high quality.
When you choose to buy quality toys and merchandise, the idea is that you won’t have to replace them (or as often). It’s the same reason why I invest in nice jeans; I have had the same great pair for years with no signs of wear and tear.
A Few Companies I like
- Green Toys (Recycled Plastic)
- Schylling (Great musical toys)
- Alex Toys (Love their metal toys)
Think outside of the Box
This suggestion is both literal and metaphoric. Remember that the holidays (and any time really) is about spending time with family and not necessarily money.
- Take time to make some gifts; one better, make gifts that can be made again (like those jars of all the dry ingredients for cookies).
- Buy gifts that encourage family time! Buy board games, family story books, family devotionals, and more.
- Find experiential gifts like museums that are fabulous and buy passes for the family. Look for museums that have a national network because then the family can potentially use it on vacation too.
- Make coupon books to offer your time or service to your children. Make sure they include the things you aren’t as excited about, but that your kids truly love and appreciate. (For instance, my mother hated playing monopoly. However, she agreed to play it all day on New Year’s Day each year).
- Go to thrift shops and make your own gifts.
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Kara is an author, wife, and mother of 3 children living in Boston, MA. She has her degree in Secondary Education & Adolescent Childhood Development and is passionate about connecting with and even helping other parents on their journey to raise awesome kids!