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10 thoughtful, sustainable gifts that encourage creativity and slowing down

Ffion Atkinson |

Tags: aromatherapy, breathing, craft, decorations, DIY, eco-friendly, gift ideas, interiors, journalling, mindfulness, nature, paper, plants, reading, relaxation, rituals, shop small, simplicity, stationery

1. TÛS - Set of 12 Tiny DIY Paper Houses

Jurianne Matter


Paper house decorations in different colours


I feel that a gift like this, which requires some assembly is even more special. You are giving the (beautiful) finished product, but also the experience of putting it together. These sets by Dutch designer Jurianne Matter, contain 12 paper houses which are pre-cut and creased, so all you need to 'build' them is a glue stick. They look lovely lined up along a shelf, on their own or in little clusters. They are printed with vegetable inks on FSC-certified paper and packed in a biodegradable clear sleeve. They come in a flat A4 package, making them the perfect present to send in the post!

2. Handmade Houseplants: Remarkably Realistic Plants You Can Make with Paper (Book)

Corrie Beth Hogg


Handmade Houseplants papercraft Book by Corrie Beth Hogg


Continuing on the theme of paper craft, this book is such a brilliant idea! It contains instructions for making 30 different types of houseplants, from monstera and peperomia to fiddle leaf fig and philodendron, out of paper. I had a go at making a paper chinese money plant a few years back, from a post I saw on Pinterest by the author and it was so satisfying. Plus it has survived to this day without a single drop of water! I'm definitely not advocating for a house without real plants, but making them out of paper is such a fun way to add everlasting greenery and colour to a space.

3. Hardcover Journal // Rose

Kartotek Copenhagen


Rose pink hardcover fabric journal with embossed lettering saying 'Journal' and a circular detail


Writing down your thoughts and just letting them flow out of you on to the page is such a healing practice. It helps you make sense of your feelings and take a step away from them. I would even go so far as saying that it helps you feel your feelings, because you give them time and space to be acknowledged. I think it's a good idea to write with a pen or pencil, on paper, as opposed to typing into a computer. It is more physical and multi-sensory, and symbolises letting go of ideas and emotions. Julie, the designer behind Kartotek Copenhagen, believes this too. These journals are simple yet luxurious, with super smooth paper and subtle lined pages. I'm very particular about stationery but these journals tick all the boxes for me.

4. Craftpod Subscription (or one-off box)



A Craftpod kit containing embroidery threads and hoop, herbal tea, stickers and more nature inspired goodies


A 'Craftpod' is a box containing instructions and materials for craft projects along with other lovely treats. It’s a perfect surprise gift for lovers of nature and stitching. A new box is released each season (and themed accordingly), and you can purchase a yearly subscription or an individual box. “You'll also find the makings of a delicious cup of tea tucked into your box, which you can enjoy whilst you craft” – what a nice touch! Craftpod, based in Bristol, UK, use pure wool and cotton, print on recycled paper and card where possible and package their boxes responsibly.

5. Breathe Magazine Subscription (or individual issue)

Breathe Magazine


The cover of Breathe Magazine Issue 32 with a woman looking up amongst plants


Breathe is a magazine devoted to mindfulness, creativity and wellbeing. I've read a few issues, and got so much out of them. I loved Issue 32 (as pictured above), and in particular, reading about the power of trees, heart-focussed breathing, controlling emotions and the myths surrounding the comfort zone. Not only is the contents of this magazine inspiring, but I believe the focussed act of reading itself (away from a screen) can calm your mind and regulate your breath.

6. Quietude Soy Wax Candle 

The Botanical Candle Co.


A soy wax candle inside a glass jar. The scent is called Quietude


Lighting a candle can be the catalyst for a change in mindset and a positive ritual. There's the cosy glow of the tiny flame and the sound as it flickers: it commands attention, but in a gentle way. Combined with essential oils, a candle can create an atmosphere conducive to making a transition from one state into another. This soy wax candle contains eucalyptus, lavender and frankincense, resulting in a scent that's calming, grounding and cleansing. The Botanical Candle Co. (based in Dorset, UK) use soy wax, cotton & linen wicks and pure essential oils, and their candles are hand-poured into recycled glass jars with aluminium lids.

7. Constance Everyday Card

Dear Prudence Studio

A greetings card saying 'embrace your own pace' with a painted animal riding a bike on it

Dear Prudence Studio is a local (to me in Hebden Bridge, UK), sustainable stationery brand, inspired by nature and folkfore. I love the playfulness in her illustrations, they have a child-like and nostalgic (yet self-assured) feel, and I love the fact that the designs are hand-drawn and painted. I have included one of Laura's greetings card designs on this list because I like the message and the drawing (what a character!), but also because handwriting a card or letter to someone you love, to show you're thinking about them, is a wonderful way to spend an afternoon! The recipient gets the surprise of something pretty in between their bank statements and adverts for cheap plastic blinds. The other special thing about real letters from friends, is that you can choose to open and respond to them, intentionally, at a time that suits you. It's so quick and easy to send a digital message to anyone anywhere, which is an amazing quality of our current technology, but it means that we perhaps think less about the state (or time) it might be received in. Furthermore, we don't put as much care into it and we expect a reply immediately. With post post, there are no double blue ticks or 'read' signals. Thank goodness.

8. Rest Mineral Bath Salts

hobo + co.

Three glass jars full of pink bath salts

A bath with salts can soothe the body and mind, helping aching muscles to relax, and skin to be moisturised and exfoliated. Sometimes after a cold day of exertion outside in the elements, or a stressful one, hunching over your computer, sitting in a warm bath is magic. I have read that because it causes our body temperature to rise and then cool from the inside-out, it helps us to sleep. Lavender is a pretty strong sleepytime ingredient too, which you will find inside these recycled glass jars of himalayan and dead sea salts, along with bergamot and patchouli (all pure essential oils). Hobo + co is based in rural Lincolnshire, UK and run by Rachael, who also makes a range of hand-poured soy candles too.

9. Tiny Treasures Hanging Decorations

Hannah Nunn


Hanging paper nature decorations


My lovely Mum, Hannah Nunn (also in Hebden Bridge, lucky me!) designs and makes a range of different products, from lighting to wallpaper, all based around nature, silhouettes and light. We both do a lot of walking and this gives her energy and inspiration for her work, which starts out as sketches, that then get scanned and digitised before taking on their final form. The recent addition of a laser cutter friend in her studio (its name is Speedy 300), allowed her to start experimenting with these tiny treasures, cut out from thick paper stock. You can pick and choose from a range of warm colours and different treasures (acorns, beech nuts, sycamore helicopters...), then hang them with thread to make a beautiful decoration. This is another present with a DIY element, like the tiny houses at the start of this post. It only takes a few minutes, but those moments are special and memorable.

10. Circus Hot Water Bottle

Donna Wilson


Colourful, patterned hot water bottles made from wool


I adore Donna Wilson's designs, which are bold and characterful with rich colours and geometric yet organic patterns. These hot water bottles are no exception and they're knitted in Scotland from 100% lambswool. Every time I'm suffering with period pains I think, "I should get a hot water bottle!" and then promptly forget about the idea until the following month. But it's just the perfect thing. While we're menstruating it's incredibly important for our mental and physical health, to rest, at least for one day (or hour) if possible. But a hot water bottle isn't just useful for that, they help to keep us toasty and soothe our aches. I like the thought that they encourage us to sit still as well. Perhaps not quite as effectively as a sleeping cat, but it's the next best thing!

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