Generously Frugal Gifts

Over the last little while, my  husband and I have been thinking hard about gift giving. We wanted to start to create a culture in our social circles that has an emphasis on sustainable gift giving. For us that means having a culture where it is ok not to buy gifts all the time, its ok to give token gifts and a culture where homemade and sustainable gifts are valued. We thought we would do this by leading the way!

A few things we have done:

  • We have switched to giving token gifts (in relation to monetary value). This was  for two reasons: we needed to live within a tighter budget, and we were also wanting to reduce unnecessary things in our life (and reduce waste by avoiding givingand receiving unwanted things)
  • We have increasingly made our own gifts. This has included lots of healthy yummy goodies (we try and give delicious gifts that are nourishing and avoid junk food), soy wax candles, pot plants (including plants form our own garden). See below!
  • We love giving and receiving charity gift cards to help those really in need. Our favorite organisation is Tear. We usually try and give these along side other gifts because we would hate there to be any disappointment or resentment in receiving one of these cards, especially if its something like a Kris Kringle.
  • We have welcomed and treasured homemade gifts too! We feel like we have all that we need and do not require big presents (and really don’t want to be cluttered with stuff). But we feel really loved when someone takes the time and effort to make something for us!
  • We have not been afraid to give second hand (or receive second hand). If I am at an op shop or baby market and find something that is in good condition and suitable for someone I will buy this (either for my present box for later or for an upcoming event).  My friends are happy to receive second hand and know it is ok to give second hand to me
  • -We write on birthday invitations for No Presents! For my son’s birthday we knew people would want to buy things for him anyway, so we said that second hand presents were fine. This gave a family member permission to give a second hand train set for my son’s birthday that they would otherwise have just given to him right away because it is second hand.
  • We think about the sustainability of gifts. For example, my husband does not buy me cut flowers, rather when he wants to do this, he buys me a plant to put in the ground. We also want to reduce waste by reducing packaging consumption and unwanted gift giving. Home made gifts, gifts of experiences and green gifts help this.

Some ideas for homemade gifts:



  • A range of fermented food (see here for ideas)
  • A Spice Mix for Cooking your Favorite Curry with a Recipe
  • Your Favorite Baked Goodies (some ideas are: Chocolate Nut Balls, Chocolate Flour less Cupcakes, Banana Bread)
  • Apricot Butter
  • Homemade Tomato Sauce
  • Handmade Soap (I buy it here)
  • A Book of your Favorite Recipes (I made this for wedding presents where I print out my recipe book and make it pretty in a binder with tabs!)
  • Succulent Pot Plants (I have recently gained some little pots and have been propagating succulents for presents! I love them!)


  • A Potted Herb Garden or Potted Flowers or Seeds
  • A Sewn Quilt, an Appliqued Onsie or Bunting or Homemade Children’s Toy for a Baby Present



  • Or anything yummy, pretty or fun that you like to enjoy!  Just pretty it up with nice jars or boxes, ribbons, fabric and labels!

I would love more ideas. Feel free to let me know your favorite homemade or sustainable gifts!