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10 ideas for thrifty gifting

Thrifty gifting

Christmas shopping can be expensive (understatement of the year), but it doesn't have to be! We polled the Parenting Place office and gathered up the team's top ideas for great gifts that don't cost the earth.

1. Vouchers

Create a handmade voucher booklet of special treats that can be ‘cashed in’ at any time. Vouchers can be designed for adults or kids, and redeemable for things like household chores, breakfast in bed, one-on-one time, a batch of pikelets, a walk to the dairy for an ice cream, a game of basketball at the park...)

2. Thrifting!

You can often find good quality clothes, books and homeware at second hand shops – get a great gift for a good price, save the planet by shopping sustainably AND support a good cause by shopping at a charity shop! 

3. Shop local

There are likely some artists and small businesses in your community making lovely things for comparable (or even lower) prices to big brands or chain stores. Source some beautiful and unique gifts and feel really awesome as you support small businesses.

4. A great deal!

Check GrabOne and similar sites for experience vouchers at discounted prices, e.g. restaurant vouchers, escape rooms, horse riding… There are so many great options on there, usually heavily discounted. Giving a voucher like this can encourage friends and whānau to try new places or experiences, with the added bonus that gifting experiences creates awesome shared memories (and is also a great sustainable option if you’re worried about unwanted toys ending up in landfill). 

Gifting experiences creates awesome shared memories and is also a great sustainable option if you’re worried about unwanted toys ending up in landfill.

5. DIY craft kits

Collect up craft supplies, like stickers, coloured paper, pens, pompoms etc, from discounts stores and package them in something handy for a portable craft kit. This idea could appeal to young and not-so-young crafters.

6. Anything you like, as long as it’s homemade

Some families set this gift-giving challenge, with delightful results. Pot plants, knitted washcloths, jars of homemade muesli, photo books, framed artworks, fudge, preserves, macrame key rings, air dry clay sculptures or jewellery, shell mobiles and driftwood wind charms...

7. Something sustainable

Here’s another noble idea - gifts that help support low-waste lifestyle. (A good one for grown-ups, as it might be hard to get the kids super excited about homemade cleaning products and compostable dishcloths.)

8. ‘Sand art’ ingredient jars

You know the ones, with the layers of flour, cocoa, sugar etc and a tag with instructions on how to bake the contents. Pinterest has great inspo for this. Kids can decorate the label, or there are a bunch of free printables online. You can also create these jars for hot chocolate – filling a small jar with some drinking chocolate powder and marshmallows.

9. Pictures paint a thousand words

Get the kids to draw or paint, or grab something they’ve created at school, and pop their masterpiece in a frame. You can get cheap frames from Kmart and The Warehouse, or thrift one from an op shop for a more sustainable option. If you can get a good photo of the artwork, or if your child can create some art digitally, you can also find places that turn art into shirts, mugs, puzzles etc. You could also do a similar thing with family photos. 

10. Bespoke ceramics

Speaking of kids’ art, you can buy ceramic paint and paint pens at craft/art stores. These aren’t super cheap, but they do last for ages and you can get good milage on them. Grab a boring mug or plate from the cupboard or thrift store, jazz it up with some ceramic paint and bake it in the oven (as per paint instructions). Kids could create all sorts of wonderful things with a project like this.

Kids don't need piles and piles of expensive presents to be happy on Christmas morning, and we don't need to max out the credit card to let family and friends know how much they mean to us.

Less is more

Consumerism has a lot to answer for. Most of us are fairly motivated to buy more and more stuff! In the moment, shopping for shiny new things can be fun... but the expectation that we need to spend loads of money on gifts in order to show love puts a lot of unnecessary pressure on families, especially at this time of year.

So, maybe it's time we changed things up a bit. (If you're keen on sustainable living and giving, we highly recommend you check out Mainstream Green and their delightfully refreshing webinar on Gift Giving Simplified.)

Kids don't need piles and piles of expensive presents to be happy on Christmas morning, and we don't need to max out the credit card to let family and friends know how much they mean to us. It really is the thought that counts! Choosing, creating, crafting, thrifting and up-cycling simple gifts that say "I've been thinking about you" can speak volumes. Pushing back against the barrage of messaging that says Christmas is about buying more, more, more is good for our own well-being, and that of the planet. Less really is more, true story!

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Parenting Place

For over 25 years, Parenting Place has been here offering support and advice to New Zealand parents. We think that with the right support, parenting any age and stage can be a relatively stress-free and fun experience. You're doing great!

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