Gifts full of mindfulness and meaning

-By Elke Zeki & Sunél Veldtman

There is too much unwanted stuff on the planet. Too much stuff polluting our oceans, our soil, our water and the air. Christmas is ahead of us and many are thinking about gifts for our family and friends. Many will mindlessly buy another pair of unwanted socks wrapped in pretty paper tied with big bows. Think about the waste (of paper) – never mind the unwanted socks.

The more stuff we have, the more responsibility we have. Consider the extra storage space, insurance and energy required to deal with all our stuff.

Why not make this Christmas a time for thoughtful gifting, not only to save our planet, but ourselves? Give a sustainable and eco-friendly gift that will create memories and moments for your loved ones. In general, think about experiences rather than goods, consumables over stuff that will still be in your cupboards, and glass or paper over plastic.

Parents are often the worst when it comes to gifts. As first-time parents, boy do we need to keep an eye on our shopping enthusiasm! Between my husband and I, and the rest of the family – we have filled our daughters room with toys and clothes and she’s not even two years old yet. I know it’s exciting becoming a parent or a grandparent, but we often get completely carried away when it comes to shopping and gifts.

I’ve realized that my daughter could care less about the designer outfits or the best new toy.  She destroys everything she wears and can entertain herself with the simplest thing (like a fridge magnet) for hours!  Over the past year I have deliberately given away many of her toys and tried to keep the shopping to a minimum. As a family, I’d like to change the way we consume and shop – be more sustainable and mindful.


With this is mind; here are a few gift ideas for kids for Christmas:

  1. Courses, classes, or activities.
  2. What about dance, art or music lessons? Older children might love a scuba diving course, a fishing trip, or tickets to a show, a movie or a concert.
  3. Arts and crafts – DIY gifts that get their creative expression flowing.
  4. A journal or a mindfulness coloring book
  5. Music. An iTunes voucher is a great gift, especially for a teen.
  6. What about a digital magazine subscription like National Geographic Kids?
  7. Recipe books that encourage healthy eating.
  8. What about putting together some baking supplies with a family favorite recipe? You’re not only promoting spending time together, but you’ll have something yummy to enjoy together when you’re done.
  9. Story books or search-the-picture books like Where’s Wally, or Where’s Waldo? Takealot have a great selection – see this link Takealot Store – Where’s Wally Books
  10. Building blocks, Lego, or puzzles. There are also great Lego books that stir up kids imaginations with building ideas.
  11. Outside activity toys – like a gardening set, bug box and magnifying glass, a tent or sandpit toys.
  12. What about a small Zen garden to help teach little ones to manage anxiety and emotions? There are great ideas all over Pinterest that show you how to make one. Here’s a link to get you going – Pinterest – DIY Zen garden ideas
  13. Got a budding scientist on your hands? What about a science kit and a few supplies to build their own DIY project?
  14. Scented play dough. There are great essential oil based play dough’s and stress balls out there for kids. Here’s some inspiration: Scented play dough inspiration
  15. Make your little one a dress up box with props from a local thrift store. Inexpressive fun that lasts a lifetime.
  16. Fine motor board. These provide endless fun for toddlers – and are recommended by occupational therapists. See more at this link Fine Motor Boards on Pinterest

Here are some more mindful, meaningful options to go under the Christmas tree:

For the coffee lover, who also likes to get coffee on the way to the office, school or gym, this eco coffee cup is the ideal gift. Skip the plastic or paper cups and buy this eco-friendly, bamboo cup. They come in many beautiful colours and sizes – one for each family member.


Read more about the eco cup here:

Visit the Eco Cup website

On the subject of coffee: why not buy a voucher for your loved ones from their favourite coffee shop? A treat at your expense. We love Motherland Coffee Company’s ‘Drink the Love’ concept. It’s their way of caring for those who work in the communities that produce their coffee – right through to us, the consumers. Buy a voucher, make a date, stick it on their board and enjoy quality time together with coffee and cake.

What about a vegetable gardening course or kit? Take a look at these fabulous options from Faithful To Nature. They have a great selection of heirloom seeds and herbs. Their Moonbloom Food Planting Calendar for 2018 will also make for a wonderful gift for the enthusiastic gardener in your family – Faithful to Nature – Gardening

Speaking of gardening… The Irene School of Garden Design offers a variety of courses for garden enthusiasts, designers and landscapers. It’s the only school offering part time, full time and short courses for garden design in South Africa.Take a look at their recent article on water wise gardening and get inspired to give someone you love a course or a water wise planting kit for Christmas. Garden Design School – Water Wise Gardening

Here is the link to their courses – Garden Design School – Courses

Artisanal courses are a wonderful gift option. Take a look at this bread-making course run by Crust and Crumb. Spend the day with a loved one learning how to make bread. Crust & Crumb – Take a bread making course

Eco friendly wrapping ideas. Scrap the conventional wrapping paper and get a roll of recycled brown paper, some organic cotton ribbons and have some fun. Look how beautifully newspaper and a ball of string can work too!


And finally – for those minimalist family members and friends, give a donation to a sustainable cause. Take a look at these two options:

For Good connects people to causes: For Good – Donate

Food and Trees For Africa is South Africa’s social and environmental enterprise improving lives and landscapes towards healthy people on a healthier planet, since 1990.Food and Trees For Africa

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