It’s the most wonderful, and most chaotic time of the year.

It feels like silly season started early in 2021 (making up for lost time), and it also feels like it might stream roll straight into February.

With everything going on, it can feel like good habits go straight out the window, along with your cash. The holiday season is a particularly wasteful time for Aussies as well. It’s estimated that waste goes up by 30% from December to January, and we use around 150,000km of wrapping paper each year.

So, we’ve put together 18 sustainable tips around gifting, clothing and hosting to keep ourselves in check. Deep breaths, stay safe and have fun. 


1. Although the temptation is real, avoid novelty gifts for Secret Santa aka Kris Kringle. Joke gifts are more likely to be either left behind or thrown away. Something thoughtful and useful will be appreciated in perpetuity.

2. On that note, organising a Secret Santa for your family saves you time, energy and money. Pick a dollar value that works for everyone, and enjoy giving and receiving one extra-special gift.

3. If this feels like too much admin (fair enough), consider teaming up with at least one other family member to buy something extra special for another.

4. When someone asks you what you want as a gift, take your time to think about it, and let them know. If you’re stumped, ask for a gift card.

5. Speaking of gift cards: while they might feel low effort - they are really a win/win gift. Purchase your gift cards from small or local businesses if you can for a feel-good boost. (Psst – you can find SWOP gift cards online and in-store)


6. Don’t be afraid to ask for grown-up presents for Christmas. (One of our team members is getting a new electric toothbrush from their Mum and they couldn’t be happier.)

7. If you’re not into gift giving/receiving, make it be known. Tell your housemates you’d rather go out for dinner with them as a celebration of making it through the year, rather than spending money on gifts for each other.

8. Unwrapping presents can be fun for all parties. But to avoid the aforementioned 150,000km wrapping paper wastage, get creative with your gift vessels. Tea towels, scrap fabric and paper grocery bags can all look a million dollars with the right attitude.

9. If you’re buying gifts for little ones, avoid plastic toys and clothes that they’ll soon grow out of – or chat to their parents first to see if there’s anything essential you can help buy. Artwork for the baby room, or a versatile blanket that can double as a throw will be much appreciated (by mum/dad at least).


10. Have a good think: do you really need a whole new outfit for December 25? If you’re anything like us, you’re in your swimmers by 11am and PJs by 7pm.


11. If you simply must splash out on something new (no judgement), pick something versatile and high quality that will take you through to NYE, January, and the summer after that . . .

12. . . . or consider SWOP-ing last year’s outfit for a new one. Check our criteria here.

13. Reserve buying clothes as gifts for your nearest and dearest only. For people not as close, clothing is a real gamble. (Refer to Tip #5: gift cards!).


14. If you’re hosting a potluck feast, kindly request that your guests bring along a container. Load them up with leftovers on their way home to avoid food waste.


15. Embrace recipes that use up Christmas leftovers. Boxing day curry is a real thing. Inspiration here and here.

16. If you want to buy a tree for the big day, consider buying a live potted plant (of any description!) so you can enjoy it year round. Make it festive each December by using paper decorations, coloured ribbon or cloth to decorate it. Choose LED lights as an energy efficient option.

17. Let your party guests know where the recycling bin is, and request they bring canned beverages over bottles. Crushed cans take up less precious bin real estate.

18. Consider buying your festive groceries locally. Bonus points for seasonal groceries, as they’re less likely to have travelled long distances to get to your local shop.

(Image above via Poketo on Pinterest)

Don’t forget: it’s okay to indulge and celebrate making it through 2021. Take time out and say ‘no’ if you need to, and don’t forget to look after your friends.

Love, SWOP.