Sustainable Inexpensive Christmas

Ideas for Xmas that show you care ……

for your family and friends, the environment and the sustainability of our community, our country and the earth.

Have a more sustainable, affordable Christmas!

" Winter Sky" an art installation made by the children from Clonakilty Lodge on display at our meeting on 6 Dec.

Some ideas from our meeting on December 6, 2011


For Christmas baking recipes click here.

For instructions on how to make inexpensive non-baked gifts and decorations click here.



Email or Skype your greetings to save paper and postage.  Promote your community as a great place to visit.  This brings more money in to the town and helps everyone.

Don’t forget the non-computer users, make homemade cards (that fit standard size envelopes) from family drawings or photos.

Host pot luck parties where everyone brings a dish to share, or brings a bottle and a plate of nibbles for drinks functions.

Organise neighbourhood get togethers or meitheals to tidy up the street for Christmas.



Cookies, shortbread, fudge, jam, chutney, cakes, muffins, small Christmas cakes, Christmas puddings, gingerbread house, gingerbread Christmas decorations, or gather together a selection of gourmet ingredients (vanilla pods, saffron, cinnamon sticks, spices etc.).  Share recipes and give packaged dry ingredients to make them – use a photo of the finished product as a gift card.

Mollie Walsh with the beautiful gingerbread house she helped make with Kerrie, Liam, Riley and Willow Liao for the children of the Clonakilty Lodge.

Gifts to Buy

Wooden spoons, spatulas, muffin/cupcake cases, cook books, jar keys, mini whisks, casserole dishes, small bowls to fill with homemade sweets or cookies, notebooks to hand write in your favourite recipes (or make a website or blog of them).


Jam or other pretty jars, small containers you have no use for, use things you’d like to regift  as containers for home baking, homemade fudge etc.



Wheat packs, hot water bottle covers, pot holders, serviettes, table runners, clothes, cushion covers, appliance covers, lavendar bags, up-cycled clothing, retro aprons, shopping bags, bunting from fabric scraps.  Find ideas and free patterns on the Internet .

Gifts to buy:

Mending kit (of scissors, measuring tape, pins, needles , selection of threads, shirt buttons),  patterns,  a basic sewing machine for mending and upcycling, a length of fabric for clothes or decorating.


Old jeans, linen tea towels, buttons, old towels, face cloths, old-fashioned lace hankies and doilies, scraps of fabric, men’s ties, lace, ribbon, raffia, garden twine.


Old fabrics/clothes into new clothes, shoe bags, lavender bags, laundry bags, scarves, jewellery made from fabric wrapped beads, bunting

Alternative Christmas tree, sewn and baked gifts and decorations.




Hats, beanies, scarves, dolls & teddies, scarves & sweaters for dolls & teddies, peggy square blankets, tea cozies, hot water bottle covers, throws, shrugs, sweaters, Christmas decorations, a promise to teach a child to knit

Gifts to buy:

Knitting needles and yarn and a simple pattern, bag or basket to hold knitting, stitch holder, needle gauge,tape measure, row counter.


Unpick handknits, wash yarn, rewind and reknit, make pom poms, boil old sweaters to felt them and remake them into bags, hats slippers.




Christmas a wreath from last year’s base, Christmas tree from a bare branch, bird feeder from new wood or recycled things, rooted cuttings of perennial plants, a pot of planted tulips, a planter box, hedgehog shelter, insect home, bird nesting box, frog house.


Trowel, hoe, spade, fork, secateurs, hedge clippers, indoor plant, fruit or nut tree, garden books, seeds, herb plants, bulbs, potted spring flowers, poinsettia, poly-tunnel


Gather seeds in summer time, package and label for gifting. Use seed-heads to decorate gifts e.g. lupin, honesty, rose hips, pine cones. Wind flexible cuttings of leafless twigs into wreath bases. Make excess produce into jams, jellies and chutneys in pretty recycled jars.

Green willow wreath making at the 6th December meeting



Decorations from: candles, paper, fabric, beads, dried plants and flowers, ivy, holly, mistletoe, red berries, your own pot pourri from: dried orange skins, cloves, emptied out mulled wine ‘tea’ bags, nutmegs, cinnamon bark etc.


Big rolls of plain brown or coloured poster paper to make inexpensive gift wrap, a live potted Christmas tree to grow on for the next few years.


Christmas wreath, gift wrap, newspaper (people living overseas love this, especially if things of interest to them are on the pages), Christmas cards, Christmas tree, bits of ribbon, lace, pretty bottles jars and  caps, turn paper shopping bags inside out and use as gift wrap, party hats etc., use the knotted rope type handles for craft projects or napkin rings.


Value added gifts in new economic times

“It’s not how much we give but how much love we put into giving.” 
Mother Teresa

Teach all members of your family to be self sufficient by giving your time to provide skills and tools: gardening, cooking for themselves and others, mending clothing, sewing on buttons, chopping firewood, managing money, managing their health, starting a fire with kindling instead of fire-lighters, laundry, ironing, housekeeping, self confidence, planning and organizing, car maintenance, how to unplug a blocked drain, cleaning shoes and boots etc.

Tools for the workshop/garden shed

Basic screw driver, assorted screws, nails, tap washers etc., picture hooks and tack hammer, saws, hammers, chisels, spade, rake, “how to” books, car wash and cloths, tyre black, polish, chamois leather, power tools, books on pruning anything to help with DIY

Cooking tools:

Wooden spoons, muffin and other baking trays & tins, rotary beater, whisk, electric hand mixer, microwave, good quality cooking knives

Favourite family recipes, written in a notebook, in your own handwriting, for a young person. Or photocopy ones in their grandmother’s writing and stick them in too.

Art tools: paper, coloured paper, light card, scissors, crayons, coloured pencils, paints and brushes, PVA glue, hot glue gun, stapler, hole punch, scissors that cut fancy edges, glitter glue

“How to” books – sewing, cooking, knitting, crochet, art and crafts, wood working, drawing, origami, dressmaking, home maintenance.

Gifts of Promises: Decorate a home made card saying you will babysit, make a cake or teach someone how to: garden, valet the family car, do housework, cook a meal

Any kind of books.

“Do give books  for Christmas. They’re never fattening, seldom sinful, and permanently personal.” – Lenore Hershey


Gifts for all children

Garden tools and seeds, cooking ingredients and apron, cupcake cases and trays, cooling racks, recipes, art paper and paints, PVA glue, patch work fabric pieces, hand sewing kit, simple embroidery kits, simple manicure kit made up by you, potted plant or herb garden, bowl of planted up spring bulbs or herbs, books, modern warm clothing, bird nesting box, bird feeder, fruit or nut tree to nurture

Your time:  

Promise to teach how to bake a cake/cupcakes/ muffins/cookies etc.

Promise to teach how to valet the car, as a potential pocket money earner.

Promise to teach a gown-up card game like bridge, chess

Promise a family outing to Millstreet Park, Fota Zoo, the woods, the beach, etc.

Promise to teach a child to sew with the machine, crochet, cross stitch, make something with wood, up-cycle something old into something new

Promise lessons in music, dance, art, martial arts, gym, tennis

Family games – Trivial Pursuit, Connect 4, Jenga, cards, table tennis bats & net for dining table, balls, boules/petanque

A family magazine subscription: National Geographic


Gifts for the elderly and people who already have everything


Hand knits, some premade dishes for the freezer, cookies or cake, a photo book of family photos, wheat pack, some luxury foods, a written record of their life story.


Smoke alarms, low energy light bulbs, carbon monoxide alarms, cashmere or merino clothing, books of recipes for one or two,, heated towel rail, down comforter or duvet, down pillow, woollen or angora throw, rainproof hat, shopping trundler, 6 months firewood, invitation to Christmas dinner, tickets to visit you, easy roll suitcase or carry-on bag, a holiday with you, a manicure or pedicure, lighter-to-manage garden tools, seeds, garden books, potted plant or herbs, fingerless gloves and the regular kind, garden gloves made of cotton with rubber on the palm side, Gore-Tex boots or raincoats, non slip boots for cold weather, anything warm and cosy to wear, new smaller pots & casserole dishes if living alone, an hour’s housekeeping a week, a monthly haircut and style, leggings, a subscrition to Sky TV or a magazine, A One for All voucher and a promise to take them shopping, long handled tongs for picking things up from the floor, long handled shoe horn, foot stool, take them to a Christmas concert or show, walking aids


Your time together

Shop Local

We have great shops in Clonakilty.

Here are a selection of gifts from under €15 from Sustainable Clonakilty supporters:

Click on images to enlarge.

Gifts under €15 from Michelle Mitton



Gifts under €15 from Hosfords Garden Centre (excluding barrow)

If you can’t shop local , shop Irish made.

Shop wisely – Buy only what you will use, make a list, and buy ‘specials’.

“Waste not, want not!”  Old saying

Gifts under €15 from Quirky Kitchen Ltd










Gifts for the whole family

It is estimated that 23 million euros per annum is spent on energy every year in the Clonakilty district.  If we can save energy and spend the money saved locally instead, it would be a huge boost to our local economy.

House insulation, a log burner instead of the open fire, a new condensing boiler, solar panels, a woodshed, a garden  shed, a water butt, chains for the car,

A load of firewood to chop up and stack

A water filter and stainless steel water bottles to save buying bottled water

An  LED TV – the lowest energy kind

LED Christmas lights – ditto

“A” Energy rated appliances

LED lighting to replace higher energy lighting

A BER report

A thermal heat image photo

Radiator thermostats


An energy monitor


 Happy Christmas everyone!