eco-friendly gifts

6 Eco-Friendly Gifts for Coworkers, Extended Family, & Neighbors

While this time of year is rightfully filled with thoughts of gratitude, glittering lights, and time spent with loved ones, it is still difficult to escape the directives to buy and give gifts to everyone you know. Of course, every one of us has the option to say “no thank you” to the spirit of gift-giving and instead enjoy quality time with others. But it can also be nice to offer a small token of appreciation to those special people whom we may see every day, but do not necessarily share a deep connection.

It can be tricky, however, to know what kind of gifts our extended family, coworkers, and neighbors would appreciate. Luckily, we need not stress about choosing the perfect present. There are countless ways to express how happy we are to have them in our lives, many of which require minimal cash and are surprisingly eco-friendly. Consider some of these thoughtful gifts for the supporting cast in your life.

Eco-Friendly Gifts That Won’t Break the Bank

1. DIY Kits

Gifting someone an experience they can share with their family or friends (or you!) is a kind gesture. There are plenty of functional kits to explore, like a holiday card-making set or all the supplies needed to make a hummingbird feeder with their kids. But these DIY adventures can also be extracurricular, like the imaginative hot sauce kit, origami instructional kit, or delectable truffle kit.

2. Gifts by Local Artists

Supporting local art is a great way to give back to the community, especially when you can share the creations with the important people in your life. Check out local craft fairs, art galleries, or auctions nearby to see what kind of creative pieces can serve as eco-friendly gifts to important people in your life.

3. House Plants

Gifting greenery is always a nice gesture — even if the recipient doesn’t have a green thumb. Succulents make wonderful eco-friendly gifts, as they require minimal care and provide a pop of color to any space. Air purifying plants are a great addition to any household, and some only need the smallest amount of sunlight. And fresh herbs are the gift that keeps on giving all year round.

4. Homemade Treats

No, you don’t have to be a culinary genius to create delicious homemade gifts. Pre-assembled food gifts allow recipients to prepare their eats or treats whenever they’d like. Winning examples are gingerbread granola in a jar, “shake and pour” pancake mix, or mint hot cocoa mix. If your friends have four-legged family members, you can also whip up some homemade dog treats with minimal, healthy ingredients.

5. Meaningful Experiences

Often the most memorable gifts are the most inexpensive. Gifting an experience together can provide a lasting personal touch for the recipient. Instead of giving individual presents to your circle of coworkers, invite everyone over for a special potluck or trivia night so you all can kick back. Offer to host a neighborhood get-together to swap holiday cookie recipes, plan a fun evening for the kiddos, or start a book club. Experiences like these can strengthen bonds.

6. The Gift of Learning

What kind of special talents do you have? Perhaps you have a knack for plant-based cooking, woodworking, or painting figurines that you’d like to share with those who have expressed interest in your hobbies. Inviting someone on the outer circle to spend more time together can be a great way to connect more meaningfully. Even if you don’t believe you have special talents to share, invite coworkers or extended family to learn something new together. Take a pottery class, try aerial yoga, or learn how to forage for wild mushrooms. The options are limitless and the experience will be both eye-opening and gratifying for all parties.

However you decide to celebrate the people in your life this holiday season, remember there is no right or wrong way to do so. Approach the season knowing what is important to you, whether it be quality time with loved ones, self-care, or taking care of the planet.

Katie Medlock is a writer, mental health counselor, and educator on a quest to make the world a better place. Her writing has appeared on Headspace, Inhabitat, Care2, Ravishly, and Chic Vegan. On her days off, you will find her cooking, catching up on nerdy podcasts, blogging at The Offbeat Herbivore (, or lounging with her partner and rescue dachshund.

Do you exchange holiday gifts with your coworkers, neighbors, or extended family? Which of these eco-friendly gifts would you like to receive? Let us know below or on Facebook and Twitter.