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Ideas for making your way through the giving season.

When I was kid, the phrase ‘it’s the thought that counts’ made me a little suspicious. It seemed the sentiment was often accompanied by a thoroughly underwhelming Christmas present. I found it difficult to believe that the pyjama set my Nan gave me every year was actually the flannelette embodiment of her love. But with time (and many more pyjama sets) I came to realise that it’s true. Christmas presents can be wonderful, but it’s the people that do the giving that you really want to hold on to. That’s why do-it-yourself gifts are so special. When we give a loved one something we’ve made with our hands, we’re also giving our time, care and creativity. Making or upcycling gifts is also a big thumbs up for the planet, as it reduces waste and the natural resources that are consumed by buying new.

If you like the sound of DIY Christmas pressies but haven’t got crafty since preschool, don’t fret. The team at Living Lightly, the Sustainable Living program at Coffs Harbour City Council, have organised a bunch of free DIY workshops and swaps to give you a helping hand in the months leading up to Christmas. It’s a great way to learn something new, save some hard-earned cash and tread a little more lightly on the earth. Here’s a list of what you could make to get you started.

  • Natural personal care products – Lip balm, body butter, and body scrubs are all super easy to whip up at home (many recipes contain only three or four ingredients!).
  • Re-usable produce bags – A gift so useful it would make your great grandmother proud. DIY produce bags are a do-able venture even for those of us with limited sewing skills. They’re also the perfect way to upcycle material (I made mine out of an old pillowcase!).
  • Christmas Decorations – Learn how to upcycle and repurpose second hand and natural materials to make your home festive this Christmas.
  • Beeswax Wraps – The perfect gift at a time when we’re all doing our best to avoid single-use plastic. If you’re interested in learning how it’s done come along to one of the two DIY beeswax wrap workshops that will be held in November.
  • Baked Goods & Treats – Old or young, we all like jam & biscuits. This year, I’m feeling mulberry jam & star-shaped shortbread.
  • Upcycled Pallets – In the right hands, pallets become the dream upcycling material. They can be turned into raised or vertical garden beds, shoe racks or essentially any kind of furniture. If you’re handy with a drill (or can rope someone into helping you that is) then the possibilities are limitless. The Coffs Coast free palate exchange is a useful resource if you’re ready to take on a project (www.freepallets.com.au).

Words by Melanie Hunter. 

Our Living Coast is a joint project of the Coffs Harbour, Bellingen & Nambucca Councils