Creative Gifts and Packaging

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Creative Gift Ideas

Try these gift ideas that are different, enjoyable, and prevent waste:

  • Electronic books (available on CDs, cassette tapes, or digital formats)
  • Recycled-content products
  • Gift certificates (example: restaurant, retail store) - no wrapping required
  • Tickets to sports events, theatrical or musical performances, or movies
  • Museum or park memberships
  • Restaurant gift certificates
  • Cloth napkins
  • Mechanical pencils/refillable pens
  • Homemade coupon (for dinner, a car wash, handyman service, or babysitting)
  • For children: prepare a dress-up box filled with wacky old clothes and jewelry.
  • Homemade baked goods in a reusable tin.
  • Battery charger (Buy rechargeable batteries when giving an electronic gift)
  • Transportation passes (for example, bus, CalTrain or BART)
  • Gifts made-in-California from recycled-content

Gifts that Go Outside the Box

Get Artsy! Be Crafty! Buy Used!

Make a gift

Everyone loves a homemade gift and they are so fun to make. You can find all kinds of great reasonably-priced used supplies to make holiday decorations and other neat things at SCRAP. All items at SCRAP were donated and most likely would have otherwise ended up in the landfill. Get Artsy! Be Crafty! Buy Used! RecycleWorks Creative Re-Use Projects for kids

Local Gifts

Personal Gifts

Community Gifts

support local causes give personal gifts support community causes
Brighten the Holidays
for shelter residents,
give a gift of local
honey, donate
unwanted items
to help reduce clutter
for a family member,
give support to local animals.
A personal gift does not need to be an item. It could be a gift of time spent with loved ones. Here are some suggestions: a Japanese Tea Garden, an adobe home, a Pez museum, or a historical horse stable and museum - all here in San Mateo County. Support outdoor education
for local school children,
help our food bank,
or give a gift to
the public library.

What to do When New Gifts You Receive Replace Current Items

When unwanted items are replaced with new gifts, don't put the unwanted item in the trash. Donate the item to your local thrift shop, local charity, or if you can, recycle it. Visit our Recycling Search at the bottom left of the homepage, to find locations to recycle the item or, to donate it, visit our ReUse Center for a list of locations in our County who can use it.


Resources for Finding Charities.
Charity Navigator
Charity Navigator Provides information on America's largest charities. It is an independent charity evaluator, working to advance a more efficient and responsive philanthropic marketplace by evaluating the financial data of charities.
Changing the Present
Changing the Present A website that lists charitable gift ideas. The listing features a selection of many charitable organizations from helping a Community to helping the Environment.


Have fun discovering new ways to make your gift look good without needless waste. Gift decorating is a great way to be creative.

  • Creative substitutes for wrapping paper include decorated paper bags, scarves, tins, baskets, bags, old maps and calendars, used blueprint paper, or just a nice bow. Specifically selected sections of the newspaper also make fun wrapping paper.
  • Keep gift boxes and bags that you receive and use them to present a gift to someone else. Wrapping paper and bows can be treated the same way.
  • Decorate boxes with magazine cutouts or design your own wrapping paper using paper bags.
  • Instead of using plastic ribbon, trim your gifts with dried flowers, pinecones, yarn, twine, shoelaces, paper or fabric ribbons.
  • If you do choose to use wrapping paper, look for paper containing recycled content. You can also purchase solid colored paper that can be used for occasions throughout the year and decorated with different bows, stickers, and artwork. Conservatree provides a list of organizations carrying greeting cards and wrapping paper made out of recycled content.
  • Did you know packing peanuts are reusable? They can be taken to many of The UPS Stores (formerly Mail Boxes Etc.) and other stores that provide packaging and mailing services. When you choose packing materials, if you don't have packing peanuts to reuse, you might try cornstarch biodegradable packing material or consider "air cushioning," (filling sealable bags with air to provide support).