And just like that, we’ve arrived at December! The gift tradition that surrounds end of year festivities is incredibly beautiful, but does carry a flip side. Giving beyond means, debt, mass production, environmental consequences and mass waste – are all themes present at this sparkly time. It’s important to acknowledge these realities, to navigate the season with clarity.
We’ve learnt this from almost every holiday movie ever, but it’s nice to be reminded: this time of the year is about much more than frantic spending. Often, there’s more in less – and there’s always a richer experience to be had when we’re present and connected (with ourselves and each other). An open heart is where the real holiday magic lies.
With that disclaimer made, gifting can be very special. This is also where the idea of mindful spending comes in. In other words, viewing every dollar we exchange as an extension of ourselves and our values. Today, we’ve made life a little easier by compiling an ethical holiday gift guide.
Choosing handmade gifts is a way of objecting to mass-production culture and its harmful consequences.
Buying handmade means that instead of your money going to large companies where the maker receives a fraction of the product price… it goes directly to the person who created your wonderful gift. Your exchange gives the maker confidence in their work, a chance to develop their skills and the opportunity to re-invest back into their business, to continue producing beautiful things!
Without further ado, here are some of our favourite local makers.
Beeswax Wraps Australia
Meet Josh and Angie. Their offering: a premium, organic and non-harmful alternative to cling wrap.
Why their wraps?
“Firstly, we do not produce in mass, we have equipped our home/workshop with handcrafted solar power technologies to be as environmentally savvy as possible. Secondly, we use only certified organic ingredients including ACO-certified organic beeswax from northern NSW, ensuring the bees are raised cruelty-free. We also only use GOTS cotton: the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) is the worldwide leader textile processing standard for organic fibers. This helps ensure that cotton is sourced in the most sustainable way, from seed to stitch.
Further, we’re the proud pioneers worldwide of bulk rolls, by the meter beeswax wraps, which offer a more flexible alternative to customers. Lastly, our range of wraps have captivating designs by Indigenous and local artists. We love helping artists express their art, through our wraps.”
To Josh and Angie, ethical consumption means “refuse, reuse and reduce. I know it is not as simple to be a conscious consumer, but a little bit more thinking before purchasing will make a difference, buy only what you need, and gift only what others will need or enjoy. Know the maker and the grower, know the story behind the product and add value to it, I promise you will enjoy it more when is purchased ethically.”
From experience I can say these are the crème de la crème of beeswax wraps. Find them here.
“Daisy and Bunny came about after the birth of my first child. I couldn’t go out for dinner or to the gym anymore, so I needed something to keep my brain working at home (that wasn’t about the next load of washing or what to cook for lunch). It has given me the creative outlet I’ve been missing since competing my graphic design degree 16 years ago and linked me up with other creatives which fill my Instagram heart with joy! Not only has it been something I have loved doing, it’s also supported my family during covid lockdowns, when both my husband and myself (although on maternity leave) were stood down from our day jobs.”
And on handmade?
“Handmade is bringing all the ideas that come to you at random moment to life! It’s trial and error, with success and failure on the way. It’s working out how to do things better or to make things uniquely yours.”
Amavasya Healing Store
A handmade favourites list has to include me tooting my own horn! Alongside my writing, my partner (Flo) and I created and run a candle business, Amavasya Healing Store.
Why Amavasya candles?
The biggest difference with our candles is that they’re made using pure essential oils. Many “natural” candle brands opt for “naturally-derived” fragrances, which are not quite as pure or safe to breathe. On the othe hand, each Amavasya candle contains almost a shot glass of essential oils(!), which of course have cleansing properties for mind, body & soul. Our natural wax burns for approximately double the time of most alternatives, and is free of Paraffin’s toxic qualities. Lastly, we’ve opted for ethical suppliers, with a dollar of each sale going towards a charity of your choosing!
And my thoughts on handmade?
Adding to what’s already been covered, to me – choosing handmade means honouring art. The use of hands. Mother Earth. Perfect imperfection. Sustainability. Slowness. Presence. Quality. Care.
NSW based, Katy was born and raised in Taiwan, a culture which celebrates tea in all its glory. Her creation, Teaspoon Co – brings this tea to culture to us, in its purest form. Sourcing organic ingredients from Australia, Katy also promises 100% sustainability by using paper and bamboo packaging, as well as deliveries through a carbon-neutral courier service. Tea is always on my Christmas list, so this discovery was very exciting.
There are lots of wonderful and delicious options to check out, here.
Option two. Which gifts are zero waste, enriching, and teach us new things? The gift of experiences. Below are some ideas.
The gift of Yoga (Living Flow)
Why not gift someone a practice which will bring wellbeing, health, peace and ease into their life? Our hot suggestion is our lovely sister yoga, Living Flow in Ashfield. Found by the ever-sunny Natalie Ristoski, they’ve recently opened their doors in a fresh new studio. We spoke to Nat on LF’s mission and here’s what she had to say.
“We believe yoga is for every body and is an incredible tool for helping practitioners improve their lives! Our intention is for our students to walk out (or log off if live-streaming) feeling a little stronger and spacious in their bodies, more clear and calm in their minds, and grounded and uplifted within their beings. Every one of our classes is continually live-streamed. This means you can feel a part of a community from anywhere!”
You can find gift cards and learn more about Living Flow here!
The gift of wellness (a retreat with us!)
Now it’s time to toot our own horn. Why not surprise a loved one with the ULTIMATE retreat experience in the stunning Blue Mountains? The good news is, we have plenty of Gift Card options available. We would love to have you, and your loved ones.
The gift of creativity (Ruco Paints)
Handcrafting with love, Marlena first dreamt up Ruco Paints as an artist – and then as a mother craving a purpose and fulfilling way to stay home with her son.
This unique business creates luxurious, high quality, sustainable paints. Each collection varies, and is made in small batches. Marlena also focuses on using natural earth and mineral pigments and ethically sourced micas wherever possible. Refillable paint pans are hand built in small batches, fired and glazed to last a lifetime. Even the paint boxes are cut (from Tasmanian oak), stained, assembled and finished by Marlena and her husband. Truly magical. You can check them out here. Plus, Marlena is working on a paint-makers crash course for release in 2023, so it’s definitely worth watching this space!
Small and Local Businesses
You know the saying… when you buy from a small business someone does a happy dance? It’s true! Supporting your local and small business economy means that you’ll get special gifts, and receive the added bonus of helping your community’s families at this time of year.
Our first suggestion within our local neighbourhood is Foothills Eco store, located in Glenbrook, right here in the Blue Mountains. This beautiful collection curates quality Australian made and eco-friendly products (via physical and online stores).
Another personal favourite is Ritual, which has just opened its doors (physically and online) in the Northern Rivers of NSW. Run by Sam, Ayana (and their son Taavi) – this stunning little store curates objects, tonics and gifts which evoke the theme of – you guessed it – Ritual. This sacred space is definitely worth visiting alongside a trip to Byron Bay.
Not in the area? Not to worry. A quick internet search will reveal your local gift shop, book store, art shop and so much more. Enjoy, and happy gifting.
Nisha is a freelance writer and Vedic astrologer, based in the magical Byron Hinterlands. As well as running her candle business, her life and loves involve: yoga, gardening and all things esoteric. You’ll find her out in nature, or curled up at home with a good book. Happy Buddha is one of her most treasured places on earth (and indeed where she met her fiancé!).