Guess how much money will be wasted on unwanted Christmas gifts this year? £10 million? £100 million?
In fact, in 2019 the generous people of the UK will spend more than £1 billion on gifts that their lucky recipients already had, can’t use, or never wanted in the first place.
But all those gifts have got so much potential to do wonderful things in the world. Just take your not-so-perfect gifts to Oxfam, where someone else will be thrilled to find them.
There are loads of great reasons to donate your unwanted gifts – here are just three:
1. Your not-so-perfect gift is a great way to fight poverty
So you’ve already read all the Dan Browns and you don’t need any more floral pyjamas. The least you can do is turn that brand new book or curious loungewear into cash and use it to help tackle poverty.
Oxfam shops raise millions every year, and thanks to people buying gifts before the big day and donating (others, obviously) afterwards, the festive season is our busiest period. By regifting your ill-fitting, unsuitable or already read items to Oxfam, you’re joining millions of people raising money to help end poverty.
2. One person’s trash could be another person’s treasure
Repeat after us: there’s no such thing as an unwanted gift – there are only gifts that haven’t found their happy owners yet. Because while that Hollyoaks calendar might not have been quite what you had your heart set on, it’ll be ideal for a fan out there.
And when you donate something to Oxfam, it doesn’t just sit on the shelf in your local shop. We’re the first charity to set up an online shop, shipping all over the world, making sure even the most bizarre and bespoke items find a home – and fund poverty-busting work along the way.
3. You can save the planet from the scourge of landfill
Alright, once in a while something lands on Oxfam’s doorstep that even we can’t sell. So you’ve been gifted something so grotesque, so ghastly, so grim, that you’re sure no self-respecting charity shopper would go near it? Oxfam will still use it to tackle poverty.
Many of the items that Oxfam can’t sell go to Wastesaver, our dedicated sorting and recycling plant. From there they can be sold to fashion designers who restyle garments and reuse fabrics. Some materials can be turned into useful things like car soundproofing or mattress stuffing. So in 2020 you might be seeing those hideous Christmas socks on the catwalk, on the motorway, or even back in your bedroom!
We’re proud to say that not a single item of clothing donated to an Oxfam shop will go to landfill. And a healthy planet is something we all want – for Christmas and forever.
Fabric knot wrapping is a beautiful, and zero-waste, way to wrap your gifts this Christmas. Inspired by the Japanese tradition of furoshiki, which uses origami-like techniques, it is a perfect way to show thoughtfulness and care – both in the choice of wrapping and in the way the fabric is folded and tied. The other great thing is that you are giving 2 gifts in 1! A lovely scarf can either be used worn or re-used again for wrapping gifts for the next special occasion.
You can use scarves, handkerchiefs or even a vintage tea towel – which many of us already have lying around. Your local Oxfam shop will have plenty of second hand options if you need to stock up.
Just follow these seven simple steps:
1. Lay the fabric out diagonally on a clean, smooth surface. If it’s patterned on one side, put it face down.
2. Place your gift in the centre, at right angles to the edges of the fabric.
3. Take one corner of the fabric and fold it over your gift.
4. Then take the opposite corner of the fabric and fold it over the first layer.
5. Flip the whole thing over and slide it towards you.
6. Grab the two sides of the fabric, tightly. Bring them to the centre, and knot.
7. Then knot once more to complete your beautifully wrapped gift.
Try reducing your environmental impact this Christmas by wrapping a present or two using fabric knots or wrapping with recycled materials. Friends and family will be delighted with your unique and thoughtful choice of planet-friendly wrapping.
Throughout the festive season, we’ll be sharing more ways that you and families around the world can enjoy a #GreenChristmas. Stay up to date or share your own sustainability tips using the hashtag.
It might not be the most fragrant of stocking fillers, but a Pile Of Poo is certainly one way to gift with a difference this festive season. And there are more…
Poo. It’s unlikely to feature in many letters to Santa. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t buy some. Particularly given the impact it can have on Christmas Day and beyond. Course we’re not talking about any old poo. We’re talking about some very special poo. Poo with powers. Because a Pile Of Poo is one of several Oxfam charity gift cards guaranteed to put smiles on faces and make a lasting difference. Here’s why you should consider buying some.
1. Because… some people actually mean it when they say ‘I don’t really need anything’
Every year, at least one relative will come out with this one. So why not take their word for it and give a much-needed gift to someone else on their behalf?
2. Because… a poo isn’t just for Christmas
Not when it’s a Pile Of Poo with the power to transform the lives of entire families. Yes, with this particular Oxfam gift card, you can provide training in how to use it for effective, eco-friendly composting, helping some of the world’s poorest people grow more food to eat and to sell.
3. Because… it’s the ideal, last minute gift
Whether you missed the parcel postal deadline or have rellies living on the other side of the world, sometimes sending a card is the only practical option. That doesn’t mean it can’t pack a punch. Send a charity gift card and it’ll do way more than decorate the windowsill.
4. Because… Christmas doesn’t have to mean clutter
Brother always moaning about mess? Mum-in-law morphing into the family’s own Marie Kondo? Christmas is always a little chaotic and leaves many of us desperate to de-clutter. Charity gift cards are a great way to reduce mess and waste, whilst making a difference. You can recycle them, too.
5. Because… some people genuinely prefer giving
Whether it’s the plight of refugees or the devastating impacts of the climate emergency, the season of giving is a time to look beyond our own lives and families. Not surprising then, that many people like giving to charity at this time of year. Pop a charity gift card in their stocking – job done.
6. Because… there’s more to choose from than just goats
Fear not, you can still give one . But with many charities offering gift cards, there are plenty of others to choose from too. With Oxfam, you can pick Heroic Honey Bees, life-changing Education For Girls, Care For Mums And Babies and many more. Basically, whoever you’re shopping for, you’re likely to find a good fit.
7. Because… you can ace Christmas AND help the planet
Care about the environment or know someone who does? Help For Farmers Facing Climate Change provides training for farmers to help them grow more food and earn more income, in the face of extreme and unpredictable weather. Everyone loves a #GreenChristmas 🙂
Wrapping and unwrapping presents is an important part of Christmas for most of us, but it can also be quite a wasteful time with tonnes of discarded Christmas paper committed to landfill. Here are just a few eco friendly alternatives for wrapping your Christmas gifts this year with the added bonus that they will look extra special too.
1. Vintage scarves wrap
The great thing about using vintage scarves to wrap Christmas presents is that you are actually giving 2 gifts in 1. A lovely scarf can either be worn or reused again next year for wrapping more Christmas gifts. You can either tie the scarves to hold them in place or tie with a pretty ribbon. You can find a great selection of vintage scarves in the Oxfam Online Shop.
2. Old magazines or old road map wrap
For fashionista friends, old fashion magazines can make great wrapping paper for smaller gifts. Pick out the pages full of colourful photographs for a bright look or for a monochrome look, choose pages that are mainly black and white and finish it off with a bright red or gold ribbon.
Personalise plain old brown paper with stamps and create a 100% unique wrapping paper.
For maximum sustainability, you can make your own stamps using potatoes. Plus it’s a great way to get the kids involved.
These days, boxing day comes before Christmas, thanks to the new festive trend – the Christmas Eve box: a package of goodies to get the kids ready and keep them happy as they count down the hours (minute by minute and second by second) till the big day.
But you don’t have to spend a fortune buying unsustainable, single-use tat to entertain your little ones. Whether you’re a veteran boxer or you’re trying it out for the first time, here are five brand new, poverty-busting items for your Christmas Eve box, all available in store or on Oxfam’s Online Shop:
Warm your kids’ Christmas cockles with a quick, easy and super tasty hot chocolate. Simply add to hot milk (or milk alternative) to make hot chocolate! They’re Fairtrade, handmade, palm oil free and vegan – whew! – and grown by farmers in the Dominican Republic, so you too will get a warm feeling inside, from doing all kinds of good while your little ones sip their soothing nightcap.
If a hot chocolate is like a warm hug from within, what better cuddly creature to represent it than the panda bear? This lovely design was made by people living with complex epilepsy, learning and physical difficulties, and it’s dishwasher safe – so you can have it clean and ready to borrow for your 5am coffee when the kids come bouncing in…
What could be more festive? The enchanting Moomins… a cosy, colourful, book… um, sunshine in the south of France? Well, maybe a little escapism from the cool winter weather is just what’s needed. After all, there’s nothing like a Christmas eve curled up in front of the fire, on a favourite armchair – or tucked up in bed listening for hooves on the roof – while turning the pages of a heartwarming book. Oxfam’s partnership with the Moomins helps support women and girls worldwide – and, with the kids kept busy, allows you to put your feet up for a few minutes too.
TO DECORATE: Handmade dog tree decoration
If yours is the kind of tradition-stickling family that puts up a tree on Christmas Eve, and not a minute before, this decoration will come just in time. And if your tree’s been on display since Hallowe’en, you’re probably not the types to turn down an extra festive ornament. Asha Handicrafts produce lots of our Sourced By Oxfam gifts, including these, and makes sure the profits from their products go back to the very people who make them. With that kind of positive impact, it’s no surprise this be-hatted dalmatian (which reminds us of a certain festive film) looks so cheerful.
Like any good Christmas, this blog starts and finishes with chocolate indulgence. Because this set is made by Divine – the only Fairtrade chocolate company that’s 44% owned by cocoa farmers – the whole family can binge guilt-free, knowing you’re supporting the Ghanaian farmers who helped make these gifts. This set includes 4 chocolate bars – perfect for sharing.
Christmas, they say, is all about the kids – and the kids want climate action. So here are five ways to do this Christmas differently…
What do all the kids want for Christmas this year? It could be the latest gadget or this year’s must-have toy – but there’s one thing millions of young people have been crying out for all over the world this year. And that’s climate action.
This is the gift they want so much, that they’ll walk out of class for it. Take to the streets for it. Shout at the tops of their voices for it…
Schoolchildren Jesse and Isaac from Malawi demand action at the London Climate Strikes.
So parents, grandparents, carers and all other grown-ups of Christmases past, present and future – let’s make some little changes to give our children the most climate-friendly festive season ever.
Not sure where to start? We can help…
1. Make recycled decorations
Foil and glitter cards and wrapping cannot generally be recycled, but we all end up accumulating them over the festive period. Why not use any you have tucked away in drawers for a creative project making recycled tree decorations?
Cut out stars, snowflakes and other festive shapes from card, and string them together as garlands. And if you’re feeling a bit more ambitious, you can find lots of creative DIY decoration tutorials on Pinterest.
2. Upcycle your stockings
Take a very chill alternative to battling the crowds to find shop-bought Christmas stockings. Light the fire, cosy up and use the time instead to make your own from recycled fabric using a simple stocking pattern.
Old pillowcases and duvet covers are made from really durable material – perfect for a revamp as a Christmas stocking. (We used them during Second Hand September to make recycled tote bags – they’re brilliant). Or you can give your stocking that festive feel by refashioning outgrown kids Christmas jumpers.
Not a dab-hand with needle and thread? If you have a hot glue gun, you’ll find lots of tutorials online showing you how to make a no-sew version.
3. Stocking fillers, not land fillers
Finding lots of little things to fill stockings can not only be time consuming, it’s where you can end up buying a lot of stuff that feels a bit throwaway. But you can fill stockings in a way that is kind to people and planet – and with 15 minutes browsing Oxfam’s online shop you can get it all wrapped up…
Buying toys and games second hand reduces your environmental impact, and you can find some really special, unique ideas. Things like traditional vintage toys, action figures, travel sized puzzles and plush teddy bears can be found in tip-top condition.
Our Sourced By Oxfam range includes lots of beautiful stocking fillers for under £5, made by our partners who share our values, put people before profit and take a planet conscious approach.
You can reduce some of the impact that comes with buying physical gifts, by looking out for experiences, tickets and days out for the children to enjoy instead.
And there are lots of money saving ways you can give memories too – get creative and make Christmas vouchers as a simple way to promise some quality time, whether it’s a sleepover with friends, an afternoon kick-about or a movie night.
And they work both ways – children can use them to pledge to do something nice for grown-ups or siblings, whether it’s breakfast in bed or picking up a hated household chore.
5. Give a gift to the future
Amaasom’s baby Julius lies in the shade while his mother and aunties sow soya beans. In the region of Garu, northern Ghana, climate change had a huge impact on families’ harvests, their food and their livelihoods. With a solar-powered pump and drought-resilient seeds, life is different now. Photo: Nana Kofi Acquah/Oxfam
By making a donation to support an environmental cause, you can give a gift that will last months and years after you’ve sorted your Christmas recycling – building a better world for generations to come.
There are lots of ways you can make a difference.
This year, our Green Christmas appeal highlights the ways we can help some of the poorest people in the world hit hardest by climate change with simple but powerful solutions. Just watch these school children from Garu explain how a solar powered water pump has made lush, green crops grow for their families…
Helping more families to enjoy a Green Christmas could be a really poignant way to top off your own. And if you have a little downtime on Christmas Day, explore this 360 immersive experience to see the difference you can make.
These are just a few ideas – if you have any top tips for an eco-friendly festive season please share them using the hashtag #GreenChristmas