Illustration depicting hands throwing pottery, a bowling ball next to two pins, tickets, a woman in a towel with cucumbers over her eyes, a camera, and a potted plant.

Sustainable Holiday Gift Ideas

November 7, 2022

It's about to be that time of year where you're bombarded with messaging about what to buy your loved ones for the holidays. You may not be able to avoid the ads, but you can make the decision to be mindful about the environmental impact of your gifts. It's time to stop cluttering up people's houses with whatever's on sale, and instead get creative about your gift giving.

Most physical gifts will outlast your time on Earth and eventually end up in the landfill. That's why experiences make some of the best gifts ๐ŸŽ

Some Local Favorites

- Workshops at Public Space One
- Float sessions at Iowa Recovery Room
- Yoga classes at Heartland Yoga
- Classes at The Iowa Ceramics Center and Glass Studio
- Membership at Iowa City Fab Lab
- Classes at Beadology Iowa
- Classes at Home Ec
- Tickets to FilmScene or the The Englert Theatre
- Membership or Day Pass to Harvest Preserve Foundation
- Classes through Kirkwood Continuing Education
- Classes through Iowa City Recreation


- A stay at a hotel/AirBnb
- Bowling Passes
- Gym Membership
- Escape Room
- Arcade
- Theatre Tickets
- Concert Tickets
- Comedy Show
- Theme Park
- Zoo
- Museum
- Spa Day/Massage


- Art or Crafts
- Woodworking
- Pet training
- Cooking
- Dance
- Swimming
- Music

Digital Content

- Ebooks/Audiobooks
- Subscription to a streaming service or app
- Online classes

Acts of Service

- Hire a cleaning service
- Hire a landscaper
- Mend a clothing item


- Plants/seeds
- Canned items from your garden
- Baked goods
- Gift card to a restaurant
- Gift certificate to a grocery store (like NewPi) or the farmer's market
- Gift certificate to a food delivery service (like Chomp)

Custom Gifts

Commissions can take the form of digital or physical gifts, but I am including them on this list because they are meaningful.

- Commission from a local artist
- Portrait session with a photographer
- A tattoo (if the person already wants oneโ€”probably not a great surprise gift)


This list is in no way exhaustive; I mainly included ideas that apply to my personal taste. Consider the types of activities and hobbies that the recipient enjoys and I'm sure you'll be able to come up with the perfect gift to create lasting memories.


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