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So, the dreaded Secret Santa tradition has come around again, either in the office or amongst your friends.

The cheaply made, plastic junk and wasteful gag gifts just don’t appeal to you like they used to.

I know you’d rather gift something a little more meaningful, and less harmful to the earth.

By the way, if you’re looking for zero waste minimalist gifts for children, I’ve got a list for that, too. And a separate one for adults.

This list is best for Secret Santa because you should be able to find them all within your budget, but they’re (hopefully!) interesting enough that it doesn’t seem like you’re pushing zero waste onto anybody.

As with any gift-giving scenario, make sure you consider the recipient’s likes, wants, and needs. Tailor your gift to their preferences. Don’t just pick randomly from the list and expect them to like it.

If you see something you like, forward this post on to your colleagues or friends as a subtle suggestion!

I’ve included a big enough range that you should be able to find something that works.

If not, and if in doubt, just buy something made locally, with natural materials.

Seeds for something they like: this could be flowers, vegetables, herbs, even trees – just as long as you know they’ll appreciate them. Have a browse of these.

Homemade or bulk snacks or treats: if you don’t know them very well, be sure to get tips from friends or closer colleagues about what they like. No one ever turns down their favourite snack or treat!

Voucher for a facial or massage: basically anything that will help them feel relaxed. You won’t be able to get a full body massage, of course, but a hand or foot massage won’t be too pricey. Express facials can be fairly affordable too.

Movie voucher: if they love films and going to the cinema, this will go down a treat.

A Planet Finska game: prices for the wooden games by Planet Finska vary quite a bit depending on the size and complexity of the equipment, but some of the smaller games will fit within your budget. Have a look here.

A rag rug or rag dog toy: if they have a beloved pet, they may appreciate a toy made of recycled materials. This can be a bone-shaped toy or a snuffle mat. Snuffle mats are quite popular and I’m looking at getting one for my own good boy.

Cryptocurrency: isn’t this only for rich people, nerds, and speculators? Nah. Pick a popular one and buy your budget’s worth. Let them watch the rollercoaster of peaks and troughs, and exit when the time is right!

Handmade, packaging free soap, beauty products or candles: these types of products are becoming increasingly prevalent, and new variations on scent and ingredients are released all the time. Ask around for what they like and you’ll have plenty of options. You can find them at local shops and markets, or online at Biome or Flora and Fauna.

A wooden carving of their favourite animal: if they’re particularly obsessed with their favourite animal, perhaps buy them one fashioned from wood. You might commission a local artist to do this.

Essential oils: good quality oils can be pricey so buying a collection will be outside your budget, but you should be able to get a favourite scent or two. Browse Eco Modern Essentials’ range here.

A bamboo pen: a stationery lover (or a writer) will love a refillable bamboo pen, or even recycled paper pencils. Any stationery made of natural materials will work!

Recycled paper notebook: speaking of stationery… everyone loves a fresh notebook. Why not make it sustainable?

A second hand book you know they’ll like: I love new books as much as the next person, but until they’re printed on recycled paper and bound like they used to be (with thread, not glue)… second hand is the way to go. The story’s still the same, and it doesn’t cost as much.

Bamboo hobby items: many hobby items are made of plastic, but bamboo is an increasingly popular, eco-friendly substitute for things like knitting needles, golf tees (buy in Aus/buy in USA), and cooking utensils. Find out what their hobbies are, whether they use any equipment, and see if you can find a natural substitute.



An online subscription to a magazine or other publication: for example, Simplify Magazine. The articles come from a variety of writers, so it’s hard not to find something that resonates. But again, find out what their hobbies are and look for something they might enjoy based on that.

A cork coin purse: these are so cute! And eco-friendly. Cork functions like leather but comes from trees. It’s a neat addition to any wardrobe. Find some here.

A second hand puzzle or board game: of course, make sure all the pieces are there! New ones are full of plastic and virgin paper. By buying second hand, you’re preventing it from going to landfill.

Reusable coffee pods: these are becoming more and more affordable. Coffee enthusiasts will appreciate being able to smell the fresh coffee as they load it into their reusable pod. It also means they can use their favourite grind in a convenient machine, without the waste. Win-win!

Donation to charity in their name: I know, this is that thing that no one’s grateful to receive (at least in movies…). But pick a cause that’s close to their heart and they may feel differently.

Loose leaf tea with stainless steel infuser: do they love tea? High quality loose leaf tea has no equal. It’s in a league above tea bags. Add a classy stainless steel (or fun silicone) infuser, and you’re set.

Ticket to a class, workshop, or experience: there’s a surprisingly wide range of experiences available to those on a budget. Provided you pick something they will actually do, this will go down as a winner in the history of Secret Santa gifts. Depending on your country, you could pick a tour, sand-boarding, VR experience, painting, spa treatment, cooking class, and everything in between.

If you’re overwhelmed with this list (and the idea of finding and buying a zero waste Secret Santa gift), just go through it one at a time and write down the ones that have a chance based on the recipient’s interests. From there, narrow it down further to what you actually think they’ll use.

You’ll probably be left with only a few options. Look into what’s available locally, and just go with that. You’ve put more effort into this than most people will, so you have a better chance of success! At the end of the day, if they don’t enjoy their gift, the quality is there so hopefully they can re-gift it rather than send it to landfill.

Don’t forget to share this with your co-workers as a subtle suggestion! And Pin it for later reference.

I hope you’ve found some inspiration for your zero waste Secret Santa gift!

If this post was helpful, please share so that others can benefit!

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4 Responses
  1. I’m amazed, I have to admit. Rarely do I encounter a blog that’s both educative and amusing, and without a doubt, you have hit the nail on the head.
    The issue is something which not enough folks are speaking intelligently about.
    I am very happy that I stumbled across this during my hunt for something regarding this.

    1. Erin | H&U

      Thank you so much for your kind words! I too believe it’s an important issue that needs more discussion. Welcome to the Homemade and Uncomplicated community 🙂

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