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Sustainable Paper-Based Christmas Gifts For All Ages
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Sustainable Paper-Based Christmas Gifts For All Ages

According to sources, each Christmas, a staggering 33 million Brits receive a gift they don’t want. Of those, an even more staggering 6.1% – over 2 million gifts – are just thrown away to end up in landfill.[1]

If you’re reading this article, you’re unlikely to be one of those who throws something away that could be given to charity, sold or re-gifted. However, at this time of fun – and excess/waste – there is something we can all do to make sure that the presents we give are as sustainable as possible, can be recycled easily and, if they do end up in landfill, won’t contribute to the micro-plastic problem in years to come. The answer? Give paper-based Christmas presents!

Before we get onto the paper-based gift ideas, let’s look at some facts about paper and what makes it so sustainable:

  • European forests, which provide wood for making paper, are growing by over 1,500 football pitches every day.
  • 71% of paper and 82% of paper packaging is recycled into new products; one of the highest recycling rates of any material in Europe.
  • In Europe, paper is recycled, on average, three and a half times a year. Each time paper is recycled, the fibres become shorter until, eventually, they are too short to recycle. That’s why it’s important that a mixture of both recycled paper and non-recycled paper products is available to buy.
  • When buying paper-based products, look for information that indicates they’re made from paper from sustainable sources, such as FSC or PEFC logos.

Paper-Based Christmas Gift Ideas

For Babies

So often we see little ones more interested in a gift’s packaging rather than in the gift itself. That’s because a toy tends to offer more limited opportunities for babies still developing their senses and motor skills whereas paper and card provide babies with an opportunity to explore using all their senses. Paper can be torn or scrunched, creating a sensation in the hands as well as a noise, while a cardboard box can be filled with other things or turned upside-down and used as a drum.[2]

So, if you have a little one to buy for, choose something paper-based, such as:

  • Books – reading books aloud to babies teaches them about communication and builds listening, memory and vocabulary skills. Look for sturdy books made from heavy-weight paper board, such as this plastic-free touch and feel book, that will stand up to being pulled about by curious hands.[3]
  • Sensory board – these black and white printed fold-out boards are designed to stimulate and entertain young babies.
  • Flash cards – flash cards are ideal for use when babies are just starting to say their first words.

For Toddlers

The choices of paper-based Christmas gifts are even greater for toddlers, and they can be inexpensive, for example:

  • Plain paper – there is nothing like some sheets of plain paper and crayons to fire a young child’s imagination. A selection of coloured papers that can be torn or cut to make shapes for collages, along with some child-safe glue, can provide hours of fun and is something children can come back to time and time again – each time is a new experience as their imaginations create new pictures and stories.
  • Stacking toysthis cardboard pyramid helps to develop motor skills and imagination while having fun.
  • Books – books are a fail-safe and sustainable gift for all ages and there is an endless choice for young minds and hands that will help to encourage a lifelong love of reading and learning.

For Younger School-Age Children

As children’s tastes become more developed, there are plenty of paper-based gifts available that will hold their attention – and provide hours of fun and learning opportunities.

  • Colouring books – besides being a fun thing to do that can keep a child busy for hours, it also helps with improving hand to eye coordination as they colour within the lines.
  • Stationery – paper diaries and journals are great for encouraging daily writing. For example, The Happy Self Journal, suitable for children from age six, is intended to “promote happiness, develop positive habits and nurture enquiring minds”.
  • Writing paper is another lovely gift that children can use to write to friends and relatives or a pen pal.
  • Interactive toys – the choice of paper-based toys is growing steadily as consumers look for more sustainable alternatives to toys made from plastics. These pop-out and play toys are made in the UK using board from sustainably sourced European board and printed with ocean-friendly inks.
  • Board games – most children love board games and there are lots of different kinds available, but be sure to look for those that use sustainably sourced materials such as those available here.
  • Books – always books! And sometimes it’s OK to judge a book by its cover, especially for children that may not be keen readers; an interesting looking book cover might just be what is needed to encourage them to turn the page.

For Older Children

The lure of digital devices and electronic gadgets is ever-present for older children and teenagers. Encourage time away from screens with paper-based gifts that can be interesting, entertaining, and mind-expanding.

  • Sketch books – giving a sketch book along with a selection of drawing and painting implements to older children might raise the odd eyebrow from the less enthusiastic teenager, but it might also trigger an interest that they weren’t aware of.
  • Board games – encourage teenagers away from computer games to board games. There is a countless variety available from the classics, such as Monopoly and Cluedo, to more complex games that might appeal to the online gamers.
  • Diaries and journals – writing a daily journal has been proven to be highly effective in calming the mind, which can be helpful for teenagers facing pressures of school and the constant pull of online. The Happy Self offers a journal especially for teens.
  • Graphic novels/Manga – Besides showcasing incredible artwork, graphic novels and manga provide a massive variety of visual stories to get lost in. With tales for all ages in many different areas of interest, from sports to fantasy, romance to slice of life, graphic novels and manga are easily accessible and read by many young adults.

For Adults

Adults can be tricky to buy for, especially when they seem to have everything already. That’s where paper-based presents are perfect. Here are a few ideas:

  • Magazine subscription – a magazine subscription is the gift that keeps on giving throughout the year. With titles to cater for almost every interest you’re sure to find something suitable for that difficult-to-buy-for person.
  • Books – guaranteed to please, whether it’s a novel, biography, cookery book or joke book.
  • Board/card games – new board games seem to be released every year, and they’re great fun to play at Christmas and throughout the year. A packet of playing cards is always handy and makes a great stocking filler gift that can often be used at parties with drinking games.
  • Stationery – helping organise your thoughts with a paper journal, or your time with a diary/planner, stationary is a well-received gift for many adults.

The Unwanted Gift Dilemma

Now, with all these great gift ideas, it’s highly likely that the recipient will be very happy with their present and will get lots of use out of it for months or even years to come. At the end of the gift’s useful life, if it can’t be regifted, sold or given to charity, it can be recycled with the kerbside paper recycling.

Happy sustainable gifting!

Discover more facts about paper and sustainability here.

The Paper Fact File

Paper is one of the most sustainable and recycled materials in the world!

Visit the Paper Fact File to discover the facts about paper’s sustainable attributes. Some might surprise you!