How to choose thoughtful Christmas Gifts this year
5 questions to ask yourself (...and how your friends and family will benefit)
Christmas Gifts…for a lot of us they are something that we think about and purchase every single year. They can bring a lot of joy, but also at times, understandably, a lot of stress when trying to get it right. In 2021 consumers are prioritising convenience whilst looking, ease of purchase, and gifts that have meaning.
But what other important questions can we ask ourselves to ensure that our buying behaviour can impact our friends, family and indeed the wider world and environment in the most positive ways?
Asking yourself the following questions (and encouraging your circle to do the same) may result in a change of idea or product purchase. When implemented long term this can completely transform the quality of lives all around you; be it those of your family and friends, of the small business owners that you support or of the wider community benefitting from positive environmental changes.
Can I get a Handmade version of this product?
For all involved, there are many advantages to buying handmade products. As a buyer there is the feel good factor attained from supporting an artist with their vision and the intimate shopping experience it often brings, be that online or in store.
Those receiving handmade items are being gifted quality original pieces, with their own unique variations of textures, shapes and colours, crafted by the hands of a skilled maker. Whilst mass produced products are often made as inexpensively as possible, artisans are praised for using the highest quality (in many cases luxury) ingredients and materials, often locally sourced and hand-picked for their products.
Buying handmade celebrates the creative spirit (an innate human quality) and encourages nurturing talents and self-expression.
As these products are predominately or completely made by human hands and not machinery, energy is conserved from reducing the use of large production facilities and eliminating build-up of harmful chemicals and waste.
How will this gift affect my friend/family member’s physical health?
We are often caught up the look or feel of a gift without considering what its ingredients or materials mean for the receiver who is using it long term.
A classic example of this is the popular gift of scented candles. Candles are beautiful, warming, create ambience and can smell delightful too, lifting the moods of all in the room.
Unfortunately most mass made candles contain Parrafin. Parrafin candle wax is a by-product of petroleum. It is usually bleached by adding dioxin; texturized with acrolyn (a known carcinogen), and then mixed with animal-based stearic acid (a byproduct of the meatpacking slaughterhouses) to harden it. When a paraffin candle is lit, dangerous chemicals are released into the air. Black soot and toxic fumes are emitted containing poisonous chemicals, some of which are associated with asthma and exacerbation of respiratory conditions, and others are cancer-causing. The fumes in the air from paraffin candles can also irritate skin and make dermatological conditions worse. A brilliant alternative to these candles are 100% natural ones that use Soy Wax and Essential Oils.
It is always worth looking at the ingredients and materials used in all gifts you are looking to purchase.
How can this gift benefit my friend/family member’s mental health?
The festive season can be very challenging for many. For those potentially spending a lot of time alone, perhaps having recently lost a loved one, or struggling with parts of life that the festivities bring attention to, nothing is more important than having ways to feel uplifted. Thoughtful gifts by the way of either memorable experiences, services/products that improve lifestyle, or items for the home/travel/the office can in some cases dramatically improve a person’s mental state on receiving the item and each time they use it.
Going back to our candle example, there are wonderful benefits to our mood and state from a range of Essential Oils that are used in natural candles (as well as diffusers, soaps etc).
Examples of noted Essential Oil benefits are;
Lavender is calming, relieves insomnia and decreases PMS symptoms
Chamomile acts as an antidepressant, reduces nervousness and tones skin
Neroli reduces stress, improves menopause symptoms, lowers inflammation and pain and decreases blood pressure and cortisol levels
Peppermint Eases headache pain, decreases indigestion and nausea and clears respiratory passages
Eucalyptus Boosts mental clarity, clears respiratory passages and eases muscle and joint pain
It is very valuable to think about how the gift you are giving will add something positive to your friend or family member’s life.
Is there an eco-friendly version of this gift with plastic free packaging and/or organic ingredients?
Another thing to look out for when shopping is how your gift impacts the environment in its creation, delivery and use. The further we can all go towards plastic free products and packaging the better, not only because plastic destroys our oceans but also because of its damaging effect to animals and our own bodies, with toxins that poison groundwater having a highly negative effect on our endocrine systems. If at times going completely plastic-free isn’t feasible, the next best thing to search for is items packaged in PCR/recycled materials.
Whilst many products will use natural ingredients, not all will use organic ingredients. What makes the ingredients organic is when they are produced with organic farming practices (that don’t use pesticides or synthetic fertilizers). These practices are better for our climate, for consumer health, for farmer health and for avoiding soil and groundwater pollution.
Can I support a small business with my purchase?
Small business owners take time to nurture their relationships with their customers, and so when purchasing a gift from them you are likely to receive excellent and personalised customer service. Through these purchases you are supporting the local community of the business owner (be that your local community or a community in another area of the world). Spending your money there will stimulate their local economy and in some cases create more jobs too. Small business owners will often make local purchases for their goods which will require less outsourcing and transportation, and in turn this benefits the environment. They will often locate close to residents, consume a small amount of land and create less air pollution with transport. This of course will affect our world not only for us but for the future generations.
There is a lot of food for thought here, and whilst we hope that you can consider these questions during your shopping process we understand that at times it is so much easier when the thinking and curation has been done for you. There are many wonderful small businesses that provide luxury hand-made items with 100% natural products with plastic free packaging and we hope that you think that Quiet Blue is one of them.