Guide To A Greener Holiday: Debris Free Gift Guide

Posted Tue, 12/12/2023 - 13:27
Someone wrapping presents at a holiday table.

‘Tis the season of giving! Gift wrapping, shipping packages, and gifts themselves often result in large sums of waste that can end up in our oceans and Great Lakes. This holiday season, the NOAA Marine Debris Program has thought of everyone on your list for a debris-free gift exchange. We hope that these ideas spark creativity for the friends and family you’re shopping for this year! Many of these gift ideas can be personalized without creating marine debris and tailored to anyone special in your life. As you make your list, and check it twice, these Debris-Free Gift Guides will make your holidays greener! 

For The Creative:

  • Handmade hat, scarf, or sweater

  • Group experience that explores a new hobby (e.g., pottery class, painting class, photography class, etc.)

  • Subscription to an online creative software

  • Local library membership

For The Chef:

  • Thrifted book or cookbook

  • Handwritten recipe card to try together

  • Make their favorite meal and/or dessert

  • Cooking class experience

For The Homebody:

  • At-home spa kit

  • Homemade salves and creams, such as sugar scrubs or lip balms

  • Offer your time to finish a project on their list (e.g., yard work, household updates, car wash, etc.)

  • Subscription to an online publication or streaming service

For The Adventurer:

  • Local park pass 

  • Outdoor experience booking (e.g., kayak adventure, rock climbing, plan a hike, etc.)

  • Electronic gift card to a fitness class

  • Gym membership

For The Green Thumb:

  • Handmade wreath or flower arrangement 

  • Pinecones with added essential oils for home fragrance kits (bundle the gift with a thrifted dish)

  • Plant from a local nursery

  • Thrifted jacket or t-shirt

For A Significant Other:

  • Pre-planned date night

  • Concert tickets

  • Curated music or podcast playlist

  • Handwritten note, poem, or song

For A Co-worker/Neighbor:

  • Your favorite baked treat in a reusable jar 

  • Sustainable household alternatives (e.g., luffa sponge, reusable bags, travel cutlery sets, etc.)

  • Donate to a charity in their name (great for virtual co-workers!)

  • Hand-me-down toys or clothes (also great for little cousins)

If you are wrapping presents this year, we’ve listed some wrapping tips that won’t pollute:

  • Shop locally and support small businesses

  • Folded cloth or pillowcases make for great, reusable wrapping paper

  • Upcycle newspaper, old posters, maps, blueprints, wallpaper, or artwork to wrap your gifts

  • Reuse the Marine Debris Calendar to wrap gifts

  • Reuse old gift bags or reusable shopping bags

  • Paper grocery bags can be cut and turned inside out to make holiday tags or brown wrapping paper (you can personalize it with your own design pattern or note)

  • Scarves, t-shirts, purses, and other accessories can be used for wrapped and add an additional gift

  • Old greeting cards, artwork, or product packaging can be cut up and used for holiday tags

Pro tip - Be sure to save this year’s tags, bags, ribbons, bows and tissue paper for next year's wrapping! 

Whatever your traditions may be, the NOAA Marine Debris Program encourages you to reduce your waste this holiday season. These debris free gift ideas and sustainable wrapping tips help prevent ribbons, plastic, and packaging debris from entering the ocean and Great Lakes, making your holiday a little greener!

Check out some of our other resources to reduce waste this holiday season:

Guide to a Greener Holiday: Holiday Travel Plans

Guide to a Greener Holiday: Zero Waste Gifts and Gift Wrapping

Guide to a Greener Holiday: Zero Waste Holiday Parties and Decorations