Deco eco-friendly Christmas gift guides: practical presents

Deco eco-friendly Christmas gift guides: practical presents

Christmas is a time lots of us keep our fingers crossed that we'll get a gift or two that's really useful or that we need. So if you want to give gifts that are practical, we've got ideas to suit all budgets, from funky bellows to reclaimed wood coasters via hydroponic indoor veg growing. All wrapped in recycled giftwrap.

By Kay Hill
Hessian stockings by dejaooh, £26
Everyone likes the idea of a stocking full of Christmas presents...make it happen with these jolly and generously-sized hessian stockings from Deja Ooh,  made in the UK at £26 each. They're 63cm high with a 33cm opening and are trimmed with a striped cotton. Order at Deja Ooh's Etsy shop, free shipping.
 
OK, first things first. The old rule that you shouldn’t give your significant other anything with a plug still stands. Unless the aforementioned plug is attached to a Tesla Model S electric sports car, don’t do it – (s)he will not be impressed by the latest model of vacuum cleaner (however efficient its motor), and (s)he will not thank you for a new lawnmower. That being said, lots of us do appreciate things that actually serve a purpose and won't end up forgotten in a cupboard. 
 
Furniture is invariably large, cumbersome and expensive, so not ideal for a Christmas stocking. That said the stylish FSC-birch A Stool by ByAlex comes flatpacked and is perfect for the youngster who's left home for a sparsley furnished room in a shared house and needs something to sit/put things on. Made in Latvia from FSC-birch ply, the sturdy graphics-inspied A Stool comes in white, black or grey, while an oak veneer version has been added to the collection. £82 or the oak stool is £150. ByAlex.
 
Urbanites are increasingly choosing to cycle to work as bus/tube/train fares rise, but if you live in a flat with no outside space, finding somewhere to store your bike is a headache. Keeping it in the hall isn't ideal as everyone trips over it..so the small space solution is to hang it on the wall. Enter Cactus Tongue, a smart piece of bike hanging kit that any cyclist would love to receive. Beautifully made from stainless steel and hand-stitched leather, hang a bike horizontally on the crossbar or vertically from the handlebars (note, it's been chosen by the Design Museum in London to display over 30 bikes in the Cycle Revolution exhibition running from 18 November). Designed and made in the UK, the indoor model below is £129.99, plus an all-weather Uni model is available at £69.99. Cactus Tongue
A Stool from ByAlex comes flat-packed and is perfect for anyone without much furniture...FSC-birch ply, from £82. www.byalex.co.uk
The ByAlex A Stool comes flat-packed for easy wrapping..www.byalex.co.uk
Don't trip over bikes in the hall..hang them up. Cactus Tongue is a beautiful product made from stainless steel and hand-stitched leather. £129.99,. cactus-tongue.co.uk
Cornwall-based Helen Round's Coastal collection linen bread bags will keep bread fresher for longer, £19.95, www.helenround.com
London-based Space 1a Design tea towels were inspired by a trip to Africa. Made from unbleached organic cotton, £9.95. www.space1a.com
Plantui 6 indoor hydroponic system for growing salad and herbs, £195, www.plantui.com

Above, from top, left to right on each row: ByAlex; Cactus Tongue Bike Storage; Helen Round: Space 1a Design; Plantui. Click on image to see it in larger format with full caption info.

In the kitchen
 
We all need stuff for the kitchen...Now you may scoff, but one thing you can never have enough of is tea towels, especially over the festive season... And with things that can be a bit prosaic, they become covetable if they're made from quality material and show good design. Which is absolutely the case with the unbleached organic cotton tea towels by Helen Moulinos, of London-based eco homewares brand Space 1a Design. The Flamingo Party and Elephant Family designs are delightful and were inspired by Moulinos' recent visit to Africa. £9.95 each. Space1a Design
 
Bread bags keep loaves, rolls and patisserie fresher for longer..so if you know folks without one, Christmas is the time to bestow one on them. The Coastal Collection Linen Bread Bags from Cornwall-based textile designer Helen Round are excellent because they're great looking and are made from 100 per cent linen, which is a super eco fabric. Bags come in three vibrant colours and are perfect for students who might not own or have space for a bread bin, but will be equally appreciated by all bread lovers. Made in Cornwall, machine washable, £19.95 each. Helen Round
 
Plantui: capsule collection 
 
Worried about the environmental impact of all those bagged salads and pillow packs of herbs? Well now there’s an alternative – and you don’t even have to be green-fingered. The Plantui 6 Smart Garden is an amazing indoor hydroponic system into which you place six plant capsules, fill up the dishwasher-safe bowl with three litres of water and supplied nutrients, and watch plants grow in five to eight weeks. Eighteen computer-controlled LED lights help the photosynthesis along its way, while the unit quietly pumps water to the roots up to seven times a day and flashes if you need to refill the tank. Plant capsules come in 38 varieties of herb, salad and edible flowers and cost £4.50 for three capsules or £25 for a selection box of 18 plant capsules of six different plants. Plantui has won a coveted Red Dot design award and comes in grey, white or red, £195. A lovely gift for your partner..and you can use it too! Plantui
 

 

The knife of one's dreams..TOG knives are manufactured in Japan using Samurai sword-making techniques and have a Kebony handle. Santoku knife £149.99, www.togknives.com
Pinch pots in ceramic and granite from John Julian, £25 a set
Made in Suffolk from English sycamore, these chopping boards with hanging hook cost £35 from Holloways of Ludlow, www.hollowaysofludlow.com
Charming Each Peach coasters are made from recycled wooden pallets and decorated with vintage illustrations, £3 each, www.eachpeachcornwall.etsy.com

Above, from top, left to right on each row: Tog Knives; John Julian; Holloways of Ludlow; Each Peach Cornwall. Click on image to see it in larger format with full caption info.

If your budget's limited, coasters are a handy gift, especially for someone with wooden furniture - a good selection of drinks coasters on delicate surfaces is a timely precaution when having people over. And when they come in designs as attractive as Each Peach’s Sea Creatures coasters  and cost just £3 each, you can indulge your loved one. Each 9x9cm coaster is hand-made in Cornwall from reclaimed pallet wood and decorated with vintage illustrations from a 1910 Children's Encyclopedia. Coasters are lacquered for durability and no two are the same. Each Peach
 
Another affordable gift with wide appeal is a good wooden chopping board. You may think dishwasher-proof plastic boards are the most sanitary option, but research shows that even when wooden boards become grooved and worn, bacteria that goes into the wood dies almost immediately, whereas worn plastic boards are an ideal breeding ground. Not only that, but wooden boards are biodegradable. Holloways of Ludlow has a wide range of wooden boards, including ones made in Suffolk from English sycamore (£35 each). Holloways of Ludlow
 
For the serious cook, TOG knife is one they'll cherish for decades. Designed by TOG founder Rob Beagley Brown, the blades are made from a special steel and roll-forged in Seki City, Japan, using 800-year-old Samurai sword-making techniques. Blades comprise 21 layers of metal, including 10 
anti-microbial copper alloy layers that give them their unique stripes. Handles are laser-etched to give texture – and they're not made from tropical hardwood, rather from Kebony maple, a Norwegian material that results from turning softwood into a hardwood substitute. Knives from £99; the Santoku 17cm multi-purpose knife, £149.99. TOG Knives.
 
 
Fun, funky and practical..bellows from Porcupine Rocks are hand made in South Africa from local cattle hides, £185, www.porcupinerocks.com
C&C bottle cutter turns your empty glass bottles into vases and glasses, from £33, www.ccbottlecutter.com
Swedish rag rugs from The Northern House are a lovely gift for someone who's home needs a little something, from £85, www.thenorthernhouse.co.uk
Bamboo fibre re-useable and bio degradable coffee cup, £8.99, from www.ecoff.ee
Hardwick sheepskin from the Lake District's Hardwich sheep, £85, and Solidwool's HemburyChair, £395, from Holloways of Ludlow, hollowaysofludlow.com
And when it comes to wrapping, choose recycled wrapping paper. Find lovely designs at Re-wrapped, £1.50 a sheet, www.re-wrapped.co.uk

Above, from top, left to right on each row: Porcupine Rocks; C&C Bottle Cutter; The Northern House; Ecoffee; Holloways of Ludlow: Re-wrapped. Click on image to see it in larger format with full caption info.

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Funky bellows from Porcupine Rocks
 
Whether the animal print bellows from Porcupine Rocks count as useful or just decorative undoubtedly depends on whether or not you have an open fire or log burner. If you do, then a real pair of bellows will save a lot of unattractive blowing and wafting of newspaper; if you don’t, well these would still look fantastic hanging next to a living flame type gas fire. The bellows are hand-made in South Africa and while they may look as if they're made from exotic animal skins, in fact designer Paula Church has used hides from the most definitely not endangered local Nguni cows, so putting a by-product of the meat industry to good use. Bellows come in a wide range of designs, £185. Porcupine Rocks
 
Rugs
 
Not all rugs cost the earth and again, if you've got a child who's left home and is living in rented accommodation without many creature comforts, something soft underfoot will be appreciated - such as a deliciously soft Herdwick Sheepskin from Holloways of Ludlow. Herdwicks are native to the Lake District and have particularly thick and durable wool – they've been known to survive up to three days buried in the snow. If El Nino does usher in some blizzards this winter, it'll be a delight to bury cold toes in one of these, £89. (Holloways also stocks the Hembury chair (£395) by Solidwool, which are made in Devon from that very same wool, using an amazing process which turns the fleece it into a fibreglass-type material. Holloways of Ludlow.
 
Alternatively, a vintage Swedish rag rug from The Northern House is another cosy addition to a floor, one that's colourful, lightweight and easy to transport. Choose from a wide variety of designs and sizes, from £85. The Northern House.
 
For the upcycler/recycler
 
Being as it’s the season to be jolly, the glass recycling bin might be a little fuller than usual – so why not give someone a gift that will turn unwanted bottles into something much more useful? The C&C Bottle Cutter would make a superb present for anyone who likes to work with their hands as it offers a tried and tested way of transforming unwanted bottles into glasses and vases, so you need never feel guilty about drinking a whole bottle of wine again. The unit is made from laser-cut plywood and costs from £33. C&C Bottle Cutter
 
Recycled wrapping paper
 
And when you come to do your gift wrapping, consider a recycled paper. Re-wrapped is a UK brand that offers lovely papers designed by founder Tracy Umney, all made from recycled paper and printed in the UK using vegetable inks. Single sheets £1.50. Re-wrapped.
 
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