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How do we have a more ethical Christmas with kids?

November 21, 2017

How do we have a more ethical Christmas with kids?

For many families Christmas is about keeping the magic alive for the kids. Leaving lists for Santa, hearty food, backyard cricket, and of course, the presents.

There are lots of ways to reduce your impact on the environment during Christmas - think through everything from packaging and gift wrapping to the food that might go to waste. 

But we want to focus on ways to make sure your kids still feel like they’re getting a good deal out of Santa (and their parents/grandparents/aunties/uncles), while not buying stuff that harms people or the environment.

Here’s a list of more ethical or more environmentally friendly gift ideas for the little ones, which includes homemade stuff, clothing, toys and experiences.

Homemade and/or less expensive 

If you can make the time and have the energy, homemade presents are good for budgets and making memories. Here are a few ideas for stuff the kids in your life might like. 

  • Shake and bakes: Put all the dry ingredients of a cake, or pancakes, or cookies into a jar (repurposed, or course). Write out some instructions which will get kids adding the wet ingredients, and then shake and bake it together.
  • DIY science kit: What happens when you give a kid baking soda, vinegar, an old fizzy drink bottle and some food colouring? A very messy experiment that a kid will love.
  • Dress up box, sourced from op shops: Op shops are full of all sorts of pre-loved, wild and wonderful dress ups. Actual superhero costumes, or clothing and accessories that let kids use their imagination.
  • Mixtape: Every family needs to dance more. Make your kid a special family dance time mixtape so you can groove together to all their favourite tunes.


Kids’ clothing can be more exciting for adults than kids, but if you were planning on restocking their wardrobes, go with one of these fine outlets. 

  • Earthlink Kids – Merino clothing made from old corporate uniforms, by an organisation in Lower Hutt which provides education, training and supported employment opportunities for people with mental health, addiction and other disabilities.
  • Hoopla Kids – ethically made, organic cotton clothing imported by a Wellington mum who wanted to bring quality clothing to New Zealand.
  • Little Yellow Bird - Wellington’s own ethically made uniform company, now selling tees for the little ones!
  • Freedom Kids - Ethical, gender-neutral clothing brought together by a Wairarapa family who believe in sustainable living. Organic, fair trade and Made in NZ collections.
  • ReCreate - A social enterprise supporting workers in Cambodia, with HQ in New Zealand. Using organic cotton and sustainable practices.
  • Nature Baby, Free Range Baby + Muka Kids also worth a look – there’s too many to list!

Toys and other stuff

  • Shop with us! We have a whole section in our EcoShop dedicated to kids... stainless steel straws, balance bikes, books and beautful blocks. Come to our Made Local Christmas Market this weekend to see our range, plus lots of other beautiful locally made goods from others.
  • Munch: Have lots of lunchboxes, drink bottles, ice blocks and school bags, and for the campers and adventurers, even organic firestarters!  
  • Trade Aid: One of New Zealand’s oldest social enterprises, and still selling great stuff that supports communities overseas to make a fair living. Includes toys, notebooks, musical instruments.
  • Kilmarnock wooden toys: This is a Christchurch social enterprise that supports people with a disability into employment, making beautiful wooden toys and more. 
  • Books: We recommend local, independent bookstores such as Unity Books or The Children’s Bookshop, or visit a few op shops and see what you can find, they’re book treasure troves!

Goats and life experiences

  • Goats, chickens: For the really big-hearted kids, the ones that like giving as well as getting, you could consider a charity gift. Oxfam Unwrapped package up the donation gifts as a goat, or some chickens, a loo or even onions. Closer to home, there's the Million Metres campaign as well, Give Trees Not Stuff!
  • Honey lovers: Support Common Unity’s Beeple Honey Collective and get beehives in your backyard so kids can learn about how important they are to our ecosystem, and get to eat the honey too! 
  • Animals lovers: Wellington Zoo, Zealandia, and Staglands all have annual passes which are a bargain compared to the one-off admission prices. Go twice and make your money back!
  • Nature lovers: Give your kid a day on the Wilderkids school holiday programme! Bookings open for the January programme in the next week, so keep an eye on our Facebook page for announcements! 

    Also check out: 



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