3 sustainable last minute Christmas presents with meaning that can save your Christmas

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Last updated: December 25th, 2019

Every year we all ask the same question. ‘What Christmas gift do I get for my beloved?’  Trying to find sustainable alternatives (or even trickier: zero waste) presents for persons who are not yet on a green journey can be a HUGE struggle.

Often it seems we have to decide between our personal values of living sustainably and the wish to give something useful/meaningful to the other.

Are you still feeling uninspired and in urgent need for a present at this moment?

Here are 3 sustainable and meaningful last minute Christmas presents that will save your Christmas! (And indeed, will make the perfect sustainable gift at ANY time.)

1. Give the present of Quality Time

This might sound strange. But time is LIMITED. That is common sense, but it’s easy to forget this when you are busy, right?

And that is exactly why your present will be special. Give someone your time. Your full undistracted time, in which you will do nothing but being present with them.

Time is the most valuable thing a man can spend. – Theophrastus

To ensure it counts as quality time – follow these 3 rules:

A) Get rid of any distractions

Turn off your mobile or any other device that could disturb you andu take away from the time you’ve set aside to be with the other person.

B) Be in the moment

Now that you have gotten rid off any distractions, focus on whatever you decide to do during your quality time.

Being aware and present is really important – especially when dealing with the older generations, who grew up before the internet and will appreciate your effort.

C) Listen and have meaningful conversations

Too often we get stuck in shallow topics or talking about ourslves and our problems. Make it a point to feel and show a real interest in your opposite and try to listen to what they are actually saying.

Let them do the talking – you might be surprised how much you can learn, that you might not have known.

And even if you might have heard the stories before (as could happen with elderly persons) – try to find out more about that situation/ memory/ story, that they like to tell you about. Try to figure out a new perspective or go deeper into the topic.


  • Go on a walk/hike together
  • Eat at a restaurant/ go out together
  • Spent quality time at home together


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Ein Beitrag geteilt von TEAL Sustainably (@teal_sustainably) am

2. Give the present of “help“

This is very similar to the first present of time. But instead of quality time you give your time to help. You will be sharing their burdens instead of just having a good time together.

While you might manage to put in quality time, too. This present is more about having their back. You will support them when they are very busy, to get urgent work or important, but not urgent work done .

This might mean that you don’t spend any real time together, but you allow them to free their days of some work, allow them to get more rest and a breather. Or simply help them by guiding them through unknown water.


  • Looking after the kids/baby
  • Helping someone with their studies
  • Helping to start a business
  • Go grocery shopping for (or with) the person
  • Help with house/garden, doing tasks like mowing the lawn, weeding the garden or cleaning the house

There’s only one thing more precious than our time and that’s who we spend it on. – Leo Christopher

3. Give the present of money

Yes, I know, that’s very capitalistic.

But sometimes it’s more sustainable to give someone the plastic paper rather than another ‘useless something‘ to put into the shelf and which eventually might be thrown away.

Letting the person decide what they need the most – groceries, money to go out with the kids or on holidays, etc.  sometimes is simply the best and most environmentally friendly thing you can give.

“Not he who has much is rich, but he who gives much.” – Erich Fromm

Unless you actually know what it is that the other person really wants or needs. But then you probably would not be reading this guide!

So how do give ‘time’ as a present?

Chances are, you are planning to write a Christmas card anyways, so just put in there!

Write a personalized voucher (equaling a written promise) that you can be made accountable for:

Christmas Card

As for the card, I personally found some really nice second hand store cards (roughly 30cards for $3).

Meaning, instead of supporting the industry to create new waste I used something that was already there and saved money on top of that.

By the way: Making your own card out of some recyclable material (that would otherwise be trash) is just as great and allows you to make full use of your creativity and stay true to yor value of zero waste living!


Show you put in an effort! Write by hand and as nice as you can possibly write.

Vouchers ideas (Including some that I actually have used):


  • 10 hours of Evening Babysitting
  • 5 Visits to the playground
  • 10 times washing dishes (that was a long time ago when I was a teen myself!)

Older children, including teens:

  • One day of my life to do whatever you want to do, up to a value of xy amont of mone
  • One visit to ___(enter location)___
    Tipp: By writing it yourself, you can avoid getting a real voucher, save resources and lower the chance for it to expire
  • 15 Hours of study help – “I know you want to be the best and I will help you get there!”

Grown ups:

  • xy Evenings of quality time – “Just us! Having a good time together as we used to do! :)”
  • 5 Long walks – Bring your dog and we will go for a big walk to catch up on life!
  • Visit to our favorite restaurant to catch up – meals/drinks are on me!

Being accountable & Keeping tack

Make sure that once you wrote a voucher you keep track of it and write it down.

This is really important, because as you give away more of your time it will be easy to forget.

Presents like this are not always “used“ right away, chances are the other person (or you) are really busy and it simply takes a bit of time to make it happen.

By writing down your promises in an excel sheet or similar place you are less likely to forget and can remind the people later on that it is still open. Showing that you actually DO want to spend time with them, and it wasn’t simply
a cheap way out!

The way we spend our time defines who we are. – Jonathan Estrin

Merry Christmas

I hope these three ideas will help you to have a great Christmas!

Don’t forget – giving time, attention & your presence are timeless gifts that can be given to anyone at any time.


Have I missed anything or would you like to share other sustainable and meaningful ideas? Please leave a comment below, I would love to hear your suggestions!

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