Christmas is the season of giving, but to what end? A 30 per cent spike in rubbish volumes and $600 million wasted on unwanted Secret Santa gifts across the nation, research shows.
That said, no one wants to be labelled Scrooge. Here are some steps you can take within the workplace towards a greener, more charitable Christmas with some Secret Santa gifts worth more than money.
Give an experience, not future landfill. Consider gifting a photography workshop, dinner for two, spa treatment or tickets to a show (e-tickets, of course). Alternatively, buy a sheep or goat on a colleague’s behalf for someone who could really benefit – from Oxfam Unwrapped. It even comes with a punny card: ‘Because ewe rock’. There are many more charities offering similar gifts.
A box of choccies might seem like an easy way to thank your colleague for their hard work this year, but how old was the person who picked the cocoa? Did they receive a decent wage and working conditions? Look for the Fairtrade Foundation’s stamp of approval or check the supply chain for chocolates – or any other gift for that matter.
To be on the safe side, seek some guidance and inspiration from AustralianEthical.
The spirit of good giving
Consider making ‘good giving’ the theme of this year’s office Secret Santa gifts and suggest staff create a wish-list using So Kind Registry – a site that encourages homemade gifts, donations of skills, second-hand goods, experiences and time.
Ultimately, however, no matter how great the intent, there’s every chance you’ll end up with something you don’t want. In that case, your local op-shop is sure to be appreciative, or you could offload on Gumtree or eBay.
There are plenty of ways to give ‘stuff’ without stuffing up the planet. Buying locally-made Secret Santa gifts or second-hand products at Christmas markets reduces your footprint, as does baking with local produce, and making or up-cycling a gift.
If you do want to buy something new, consider reusable coffee cups, eco-friendly candles, or a make-your-own cheese or yoghurt kit. There are plenty of shops now specialising in these green gifts.
You can’t wrap it up and put a bow on it, but they don’t call it ‘the gift of time’ for nothing. Think about what skills you have that your colleague lacks, or ask what’s been lingering on their to-do list.
Perhaps you’re an Ikea flatpack savant? Put together that dining table that Jenny from reception has given up on. Or maybe every time you re-heat your lunch, Rob from IT is commenting on the aroma? Get him off the two-minute noodles and chips and teach him a recipe or three.
You might want to set up an office auction of people’s hidden skills (teaching yoga, baking, singing lessons, etc), throw a party, raise some money for charity and all get the seasonal feel-good factor. Alternatively, if you’re short on time (or know-how), outsource via Airtasker. The peer-to-peer platform helps you find someone nearby to complete a job, be it mowing the lawn, mending clothes or even writing speeches.
Need some more ideas? We have five Secret Santa gifts sure to please anyone – including your conscience.
- Donate in their name: Adopt an endangered animal via WWF, give a homeless person a haircut through Wesley Mission, or give a tree via the Carbon Neutral Charitable Fund.
- Sock it to them: Gifting socks is normally the preserve of aunts, but Conscious Step sells socks with a difference. The spotty ‘Socks That Treat HIV’ provide a week’s treatment for an expectant mother.
- Buy a book: If it’s from a site such as Better World Books, sleep well in the knowledge that profits go towards books and literacy programs for those in need. Shipping is carbon-neutral and free worldwide.
- DIY: Baking is an easy way of DIY-ing a gift that will be appreciated. Gingerbread, rum balls, fudge – you name it, it’ll hit the spot. Place in a recycled jar and decorate.
- Coffee: Shout your colleague a week’s worth of coffee from your local cafe and hand deliver it.