The pumpkin pie is (finally) digesting, and we’re all warm and fuzzy from Thanksgiving memories… but now it feels like the holiday sprint is on to buy, buy, buy!

Do you feel the same? 

Now, don’t get me wrong — I love watching my favorite people get giddy when they open a gift I found just for them (which is why we made this Good Times Gift Guide last month!). But I also think it’s important to balance our credit card swiping impulses with thoughtfulness. 

Sounds great, but what does “thoughtfulness” actually mean? It could be…

  • prioritizing activities over things

  • selecting gifts from companies who make a difference in the world

  • being resourceful when it comes to wrapping and decorating. 

After much brainstorming, consulting with family (Johanna’s) and friends, and scouring the internet, we’ve come up with 11 thoughtful ways to nail all of the above in style this year.

Are you ready for a conscientious Christmas, Hanukkah, or other celebration of choice? Then let’s gooooo….

darla powell interiors resourceful holiday decorating ideas stairs

Ideas for Spending Quality, Memorable Time Together

Treat your special peeps to a day or night of belly laughs, warm bevs, and memory-making... 

1. Tour Holiday Lights

No one is too young or old for a spectacle of holiday lights. Look up local Christmas light shows in your area, take a drive, and soak it up with your favorite people. You could even get bundled up in scarves and bring hot beverages in thermoses, just for fun. ;) 

Fairchild Tropical Botanical has great lights near us in Miami.  

2. Go Ice Skating

Ice skating is always a good time, even if your family members lack the required coordination... actually, I’d argue that it’s even more fun that way! Plus, there’s always cocoa and peppermint Schnapps to keep the sidelines interesting...

3. Host a Movie Night

Invite the family over, deck the halls with holiday munchies, and have a Christmas movie night! Bonus points for a movie that everyone can recite the lines to… 

Some of our favorites are It's a Wonderful Life, Elf, Little Women, Home Alone and The Grinch.

4. Fire Up a Christmas Campfire

If you have an outdoor fire pit, there’s nothing stopping you from a little Christmas campfire and some holiday s’mores-making. Pro Tip: Swap your usual chocolate with a Ghirardelli square — a little peppermint or caramel in there will rock your world. You’ve been warned.

5. Organize a Family Baking Day

Get together and spend the day making family treats, whether it’s recipes passed down through the years or new ones that are worthy of becoming tradition. When you’re done, deliver the good stuff to friends, neighbors, coworkers, enemies, and everyone in between. 

christmas activities ideas baking day raisin bread miami

Ways to Give Back Directly & Indirectly this Season

6. Spread Some Christmas Cheer

Spread some cheer by visiting a nursing home in your community or dropping in on people who would enjoy some friendly faces! This is also an activity you can do with family and friends for feel-good memories and connection. 

7. Support Companies that Make a Difference

There are many companies out there who are making a difference in the world, but I’m gonna be honest… sometimes it’s hard to know which are really doing good things and which just throw around words like “sustainable” and “responsible.” Am I right?

To help you out, here are 6 we feel pretty confident about… 

Sseko Designs offers accessories and apparel for one heck of a cause: helping talented Ugandan prepare for and pay for a college education. 

Cuddle+kind sells hand-knit dolls made fair trade by women in Peru. For every doll bought, the company donates 10 meals to children in need (8 million so far!). 

Nisolo manufactures shoes in their factory in Peru, where workers are given stable jobs and a truly livable wage (47% higher or more than their previous jobs). The company also works to protect trees in the Amazon Basin from deforestation. 

Toms shoe brand has already donated over 100 million shoes to communities in need and has since committed to donating one-third of all their profits to improving lives around the world.

African Mission Services is a Kenyan organization that works to provide medical services, improve education, and increase water access to households and communities in Africa. This is one org you can trust to put your donation to good use — they’re friends of our very own Johanna! 

Purpose Jewelry uses 100% of its profits to provide education, social support, and fair wages to its artisans: recovering victims of human trafficking.

conscientious holiday gifts darla powell interiors purpose jewelry fair wages

Conscientious Gifts, Wrapping & Decor Ideas

8. Make your own gifts

Another fun idea is to hand-make Christmas ornaments from recycled items. These can be given directly as gifts or (according to Johanna) used in a high-energy White Elephant gift exchange. It’s a fun way to recycle, get creative, and uphold a tradition of battling for the best gift. ;)

sustainable holiday decorating ideas darla powell interiors

9. Substitute wrapping paper for these...

Instead of mass-produced wrapping paper, you could wrap your gifts in pages from magazines, brown recycled stock paper (from Home Depot), or brown paper lunch bags. 

Then add dried citrus, holly branches, other greenery clippings, berries, pinecones, string, yarn… whatever you find around your home or in your backyard!

sustainable gift wrapping ideas darla powell interior design miami brown paper rosemarysustainable gift wrapping ideas darla powell interiors newspaper thread miami
source (left and right)

10. Instead of buying gift bags, try these...

Instead of gift bags, you could use large reusable Christmas bags (shown below), pillow cases, blankets, Christmas socks, scarves, you name it!

reusable cute holiday gift bags conscientious christmas darla powell interiors miami

11. Make your own holiday decor

Place greenery clippings in various sized jars, vases, or even champagne flutes around the house as Christmas decor. Either use what you have already, or start cleaning and saving glass jars from items you already buy or receive as a gift — like the spiced fig jam from that holiday basket. ;)

pine spruce rosemary champagne flutes homemade decor ideas darla powell interiors

That makes 11, but you can find more inspiration in this gorge Pinterest board that Johanna pulled together just for you.

Or... if you realized over Thanksgiving that your home is not, in fact, designed for jolly entertaining, you have my full support in downloading our guide to furnishings budgets below. (Run, don’t walk!!) 

It’s the first step to preparing yourself for a successful design project in the New Year. Calling us up is second. ;)

Until that happy day, we wish you a holiday filled with laughter, joy, and all your favorite people!

Darla, Natalie & Johanna