Guest blog by Sophi, Toronto based Mom striving towards a zero waste lifestyle.

Following up from my previous post on How to Receive Less Stuff, we’re loosely defining Mindful gift as the ability to demonstrate our gratitude yet being mindful of the potential excesses of physical gift giving.

How I Give Less Stuff

The following examples are mainly specific to Toronto since that’s where I live but I’d encourage you to search for similar options in your area. I have gifted many of these suggestions myself and found them to be well received.

The Sharing Depot is a library for things. (They’d say they are a Library of Things)

They have toys, Lego, puzzles, games, party equipment, camping gear and sports equipment.give less stuffSimilar to your neighbourhood book library, you borrow what you need and then return it when done – all for a low annual membership ranging from $25-$100

  • Don’t worry, items are cleaned between each use and regularly assessed for safety.
  • We loved that this introduces the idea of borrowing rather than buying to your loved one. We do it with books, why not with stuff that you need only for a short period?
  • The Sharing Depot highlights and allows you to participate in the concept of a circular economy.
  • You know the feeling when you do a big purge at home? Imagine having that feeling every time you borrow/return items. Hallelujah!

Other Gift certificates/memberships/passes:

  • Passes to the AGO, Black Creek Pioneer Village, Ontario Science Centre.
  • Pips Pass is a Toronto based company geared for kids from 0-15. They sell passes for classes at a variety of places that offer anything from yoga to children’s theatre. Option to buy a 3, 5 or 10 class pass ranging from $45-$130.

Loot bag ideas

  • Make or buy their favourite dish or sweet treat.
  • Seed bombs are colourful truffle size balls of seed, compost, and clay.
    • Great for any occasion, especially at Easter, instead of all the plastic toys and wrapped candy. Throw them into an area to watch them grow.

Commission artwork for close Family and Friends

  • I had a local artist, Isabel Foo, illustrate this fun portrait of our family

    Isabel Foo Illustration


  • Sick Kids accept toys as gift in-kind donations.
  • Red Door Shelter welcome gift in-kind donations from toiletries to non-perishable food items.
  • Toronto Wildlife Centre has a Sponsor a Wild Baby option. Kids love animals. They’ll see that their gift helped to save an animal in need which teaches compassion.

give less stuff


  • An outdoor activity they’d enjoy (berry picking in the summer, snowshoeing in the winter)
  • Take them out for ice cream, anytime! Sweet Olenka’s for vegans
  • Picnic date to Toronto Island, High Park, Leslie Spit

I believe if we give this way, we are more likely to also receive this way.

Express to your family and loved ones that making memories together is what would be most appreciated.

We’d love to hear your thoughts – What tactics have you used to discourage ‘stuff’ gifts? Please tell us in the comments below

In case you missed it: How I Receive Less Stuff

More about Sophi:

I’m a 38-year-old Massage Therapist of 14 years, wife and mother to a quirky little girl. My husband and I have been married for over 10 years. He’s Irish and can get away with anything with that accent! We’ve been striving for a zero waste lifestyle since 2016. Facts about disposable coffee cups are what threw me into action, even though I’m not a coffee drinker. I needed to make this place better for our daughter. I’m also the Zero Waste Events Manager for the Toronto Tool Library. You can follow my zero waste adventures on Instagram @YourEcoFriend

Also published on Medium.