How to shop ethically and give more meaningful gifts this festive season

Christmas online shopping top view. Female buyer with laptop and gift boxes. Woman buys presents in internet among gift boxes and ornaments. Winter holidays sales
Christmas online shopping. (PHOTO: Getty Images)

The last few years have been hard; we can all agree on that. This is why so many of us are going all out to celebrate this festive season, but we shouldn't forget all the lessons learned from lockdowns and isolation.

Instead of just flashing your cash and buying up big, take a bit more time to consider the issues we have dealt with recently - climate change and the need to be more sustainable; racism and the importance of cultural diversity and acceptance; burnout and the issues of just having too much stuff.

This year's festive season, look to things like ethical consumerism, minimalist living, and a sustainable lifestyle to share your love with family and friends. Here are some great ideas you can try.

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Porcelain Skincare Recovery Gel. (PHOTO: Robinsons)
Porcelain Skincare Recovery Gel. (PHOTO: Robinsons)


Rather than shopping online and adding to your carbon footprint, shop locally. Make an effort to find and support small businesses producing goods locally made from sustainable or recycled products. Take a day to wander around your local artists street and snap up original and unique gifts. When you buy locally, you also support your own traditions and culture, celebrating inclusiveness and identity.

Go to to discover some top Singapore brands.

Secondhand and Thrifted

Instead of looking for something brand new, try an antique or secondhand store for something preloved. This is a particularly great option if you are looking for furniture or homeware items - antique and older furniture is always better made and will definitely last longer. If you do not love the colour, paint it! You can also snap up fabulous pieces of jewellery that are reasonably priced as well.

Go to for a list of Antique and secondhand stores.

Support those who need assistance

You can also reach out to charity groups to buy gifts or items like cards from organisations that support disadvantaged groups. You will not only feel good about helping others, but your dollars will also be going to a good cause. You could also make a substantial donation to a charity in the name of someone as a gift. This idea has become super popular for wedding gifts and funerals instead of spending money on flowers.

Go to for a list of reputable charities to support.

Shop sustainable and ethical brands

If you are looking for a particular item you can't find locally, choose from sustainable and ethical brands. Check where their products are made, whether or not they buy carbon offsets for shipping, and if they have been involved in any unethical practices before handing over your money.

Go to for sustainable fashion brands.

Pottery workshop at Taoz Ceramics. (PHOTO: Klook)
Pottery workshop at Taoz Ceramics. (PHOTO: Klook)

Make your own gifts

It goes without saying that some of the most meaningful gifts you can give are those you make yourself. Homemade is always personal and ethical, whether a handmade item or a jar of your special chilli sauce.

Sign up for an aromatherapy blending workshop or a terrarium workshop. There is also a pottery workshop if you like to get your hands dirty.

Share your recipes

Do you make the perfect curry mix? Or fabulous pandan cake? Share the love by sending a gift of the recipe to your friends. You can make up a batch of jam with personal labels or send a cute package of recipes plus ingredients.

Personalised Book List

Pick three books you loved and pass them on. Give your friends the three best books you read this year for a fully sustainable option. Of course, you can always buy copies, but you can also send a digital reading list from your Kindle. If three books are too much, grab two other friends, and each gives a book.

Personalised Playlist

Create a soundtrack for your loved ones' lives. Put together a bunch of songs that you know will have meaning for them; you can build one for working out or commuting and add a cute graphic for a personalised album artwork.

Send a Handwritten Letter

In the 'old days', people would wait with bated breath for the arrival of Christmas cards and family letters in the mail. Replicate this nostalgic idea with a lovely handwritten letter for your friends. Write about how you've coped over the last year, mention things you've loved, things you've missed and remember the good times you have shared together.