Outside the Box: Alternative Christmas gifts


In a time of consumerism and hoarding, giving gifts at Christmas doesn’t have to involve buying things. There are other ways


Stocking fillers are all well and good but the likelihood is that they’ll be forgotten about a few days later.

Memories on the other hand – they last a lifetime. Real-life experiences nurture the soul and inspire future exploration. And they needn’t be expensive experiences either. Travel these days can be cheap – why not book a coach trip to Cornwall or West Wales? Even a family walk somewhere new needn’t cost the earth.

If you have the budget, there are plenty of companies offering unforgettable experiences – balloon rides, days out driving high-performance cars or even flight lessons.

Gifts that grow

A potted herb garden or a terranium is a gift that will give continuous joy throughout the coming year.
A miniature garden in the home can come in various sizes, assortments and styles that will need attending to and looking after.

According to research, interacting with plants increases levels of happiness and calmness. What more could anyone ask for?


If there’s one thing that most of us don’t seem to have – it’s time. But we do. It’s all about making the time.

Putting aside time to spend with friends and family doesn’t necessarily cost anything. But to the person receiving your time, it means the earth.

Grab yourself a new diary and pencil in some dates with loved ones. Organise yourself so that you can still get all the things you need to get done. You can then enjoy your quality time without worrying about all the chores and work that weighs us all down.

Made with love

If you have the skills to create something yourself, whether it be baking, sewing or anything creative, a homemade gift is something very special.

Even if you’re not necessarily talented in that area, a gift that is handmade shows that you’ve spent time thinking about your recipient, and that’s what makes it special. It also gives you the opportunity to personalise your present. Putting love into your gift is worth more than how much cash you spend.

There are plenty of ideas online to help create a wonderful and unique gift – ranging from homemade bath bombs, chutneys and bookmarks through to more intricate presents ranging from hand-made earrings and wine racks. The only thing holding you back is your imagination!


Sometimes, the things that people really want just can’t be wrapped up and popped underneath a Christmas tree.

Has a member of your family been waiting years to have their garden cleared? Is there someone who has been wanting to visit a local gardening centre but can’t get there themselves?

Creating a booklet of favours can put a smile on the face of a loved one – just be aware that knocking a booklet up on Christmas morning as you’ve not bought anything will not go unnoticed!


People love to learn, especially a new skill.

Is there someone who’s always wanted to pick up a guitar? Is there someone who’s always dreamed of speaking Italian? Does someone need cookery skills? Knowledge like this can last a lifetime and by giving them the building blocks to learn, you could be giving them the gift of a whole new hobby or even a new career!


Golf clubs, gyms, museums, historical homes, season tickets or even Netflix or NOW TV – there are countless ways to give a membership.

Setting someone up for the year ahead will give them something to look forward to for months on end. It also goes to show that you’ve really thought about what to get them for Christmas. Consider also things like breakdown cover for their car – it may not be the most exciting present you’ve ever given but it could come in very useful later on down the line.


You can support the world we live in and give a great present by giving an eco-friendly gift. Buying from organisations that support nature and wildlife provides them with valuable income and your loved ones with a quality present.

Reusable coffee mugs are very much the way to go and gifts like bags, scarves and jigsaws are also sold by the Woodland Trust, the National Trust and charities.

Look out for gifts that carry the Fair Trade logo too – you can relax knowing that the present you are buying is ethical.

Personalised entertainment

If you’ve got a talent or skill that you can put to good use, create a personalised gift that will make someone feel very special.

If you enjoy poetry, pen a personalised poem; if you are musically gifted, write a song; if you like writing short stories, make one up just for them! These are the kind of gifts that you can’t buy anywhere – in fact, you don’t need to spend very much at all!