A Guide to Christmas Gifts – The New York Times

Some of the best gifts I’ve ever received aren’t things. They are cherished memories.

Watch the sunset after a climbing lesson. Kite flying over a beach. I felt incredibly chic sipping Verdi’s “Rigoletto” sparkling wine at a performance.

This Black Friday, the unofficial start of the holiday shopping season, we at Team Climate wanted to remind you that you don’t necessarily have to buy items to show your friends and family appreciation. As we know, overconsumption is a key reason for the climate crisis.

Some of these ideas will require you to think locally, but here’s something to get you started:

Beat down the paywall

Movie lovers might appreciate a subscription. We all know the big streaming services. But there are also lesser-known ones that specialize in independent films. The Met Opera also has a streaming service.

Subscriptions and memberships to nonprofit news websites are gifts that help strengthen democracy. There are non-profit websites dedicated to the climate and environmental issues often discussed here, such as Grist, Inside Climate News, and High Country News. But I also encourage you to look into local news organizations for these.

Memberships in museums and gyms could also be a good fit. I have a friend in London who says being a part of Kew Gardens is one of the best things about living in the city. There are also many options for botanical gardens in the United States. ClassPass gives people access to fitness activities in multiple countries. A national park pass can be the best gift for people who love being in the wilderness.

You can also donate to charities on behalf of a friend. Last year, Wirecutter, the New York Times’ product review website, compiled a list of charities that had thoroughly screened their reporters and could recommend.

For that friend who loves food, you might consider subscribing to a cooking magazine or New York Times Cooking.

Go out at night …

There are so many concerts, plays, lectures, book festivals and other events to attend. Check out the 2023 schedule at your favorite location. The New York Times has a Broadway guide of the best shows. We also have an international theater section with reviews of plays from around the world. Maybe you have a great one. If you’re looking for multimedia performances, Pop-Up Magazine tracks shows across the United States.

… or for the day

Sign up for a kayak tour, cooking class, or shared dance class. Be a tourist in your city and go sightseeing. Have a picnic in the most beautiful park in the area or take a food tour to learn more about your city’s hidden gems.

I took a food tour of Queens with Joe DiStefano, author of 111 Places to Visit in Queens, and it was one of the best things I’ve ever experienced in New York City. (I also encourage you to create your own food tour, which is often even more fun!)

How about spoiling people a bit? Contact a photographer to inquire about a photo shoot with your loved one’s family. Or treat them to a massage at a nice spa or hotel.

It’s the thought that counts. For real.

One of my fondest Christmas memories was a year my mom and her sister were broke. They have decided to give us, their children, homemade gift certificates instead of real things. They said things like “worth a bike” or “worth a new sound system”.

I remember laughing until my stomach hurt as we each tried to guess what the little notes would say before they were unwrapped. The certificates were never exchanged for anything; they didn’t have to be. We all learned that night that being together and having a shared intention to make someone you love happy are the best parts of the gift-giving ritual.

Related: When you decide to buy things, Wirecutter has some suggestions on how to shop more sustainably.


After Thanksgiving: Even if you don’t have a garden, you can minimize the climate impact of your leftover food by composting it.



Retailers often throw away returned, damaged or otherwise unwanted items instead of reusing them. But dumpster divers collect many of these products and post videos of their haul on TikTok. The videos together have billions of views. Some retailers were forced to respond.


Thank you for being a subscriber. We’ll be back on Tuesday.

Claire O’Neill and Douglas Alteen contributed to Climate Forward. Read past issues of the newsletter here.

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