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20 Eco-Friendly Basket and Gift Box Ideas

20 Eco-Friendly Basket and Gift Box Ideas

If you’re ever stumped about what to get someone as a gift, a basket or box filled with fun stuff is always a great fall-back plan. Here are a few ideas that might inspire you:

1. Celebratory “Just Because” Gift

Sometimes it’s just lovely to surprise someone with something special, and a little gift basket full of a few cute things can do wonders to make someone smile. A small basket with some chocolate or homemade cookies, a hand-written card or letter, and a mix CD with some great songs is sure to make anyone smile… and this gift can be for any reason at all.

2. Wedding Present

You can spoil the lucky new couple with a variety of items, or you can aim for a themed gift:

  • Bathroom items like organic loofahs, soaps, lotions, and soft towels
  • Kitchen equipment such as bamboo utensils, placemats, and cutting boards
  • Living room accoutrements like a soft woven throw blanket, soy candles, and a potted plant

3. New Baby

That little bundle of bliss is so fresh and new, you don’t want any gross chemicals touching its sensitive skin! If you’re putting together a gift for a baby shower (or a newborn), get yourself a re-usable bag so the parents can haul the kid’s stuff in it, and fill it with items that will make the wee one as happy as its parents. Items like an organic cotton onesie, a sustainable wooden teething toy, organic baby bottom balm, and a Waldorf doll would be sweet for any kidlet to receive.

4. Items for a New Mom

New moms need all the pampering they can get (considering how much they’ve just been through!), so be sure to put together something sweet that the special lady will appreciate. A re-usable tote bag can be filled with things like post-partum/lactation support teas (like the ones from Traditional Medicinals), as well as organic nursing bra pads, Shea Moisture raw healing lotion, and even a “baby and me” yoga DVD. A bit of dark, raw chocolate is almost always welcome, and a hand-written letter would brighten any new mom’s spirits.

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5. Heading off to college

Leaving home to go to college is a huge, life-changing step for many young people, and it can be a bit intimidating too. For them, consider a basket of vegan/organic personal care products—such as facial scrub, toner, moisturizer, shampoo, and deodorant—a bottle of multivitamins (because you know they’re going to eat a lot of junk food), bamboo plates and cutlery, and a soy candle for some warmth and comfort.

6. Housewarming Present

For a person or couple who’s moving into a new space, a metal or BPA-free plastic bucket with environmentally-friendly cleaning products and household items would be a great idea. Toss in some essential oils like lemon, grapefruit, lavender, and tea tree, along with a package of soap nuts for laundry, and some beechwood and agave fibre scrubbing brushes.

7. Young Child

Kids love to explore and use their imaginations, so why not give them ample fuel to do just that? There are Waldorf toys to suit every age group imaginable, so why not take a small ethically-made backback and pack it with a toy or two, a book, a handmade hat or pair of mittens (depending on the season), and some organic/vegan kid-friendly snacks—that you’ve cleared with the parents beforehand, of course.

8. The Anniversary Gift

What better way to get a couple to celebrate their anniversary than to send them off on a picnic with a bunch of great, natural accoutrements? You can find an ethically-sourced picnic basket and plate set and tuck in a couple of re-usable cutlery sets and cotton napkins as well. A bottle of organic wine and a pair of recycled glass or BPA-free plastic glasses would be lovely, and you can also add an assortment of nibbles, like whole grain crackers, veggie pate, olives, dried fruit and nuts, and free-trade chocolate.

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9. Teenager

Teens have such a wide variety of tastes that it’s difficult to buy for them. Aim for gifts that are sure to be used, even if they’re accepted with a sullen shrug: a large vintage lunch box or tote bag can be filled with items like a recycled journal with a few pens, a stainless steel or glass water bottle, some eco-friendly earbuds, and maybe a growing kit for their own tea herbs.

Note: Stay away from skincare products unless you’re really close to the teen (like, if you’re an older sibling), as you don’t know how sensitive their skin might be, what their preferred fragrances are, or whether they’d be creeped out by you giving them stuff for their face and hands.

10. The Knitter

If someone in your life is a knitting fiend, see if you can find a cute, ethical knitting basket for them and fill it with items they’re sure to love. Sustainable, free trade wooden needles are absolutely gorgeous, but stainless steel ones are always good too. Add in a few skeins of organic bamboo or cotton yarn in their favourite colours, and let them loose to work their magic.

11. Summer Fun Kit

For those who live for warm weather and can’t wait to hit the beach, pack up a tote bag with some organic/vegan sunscreen, insect repellent, after-bite balm, after-sun soother made with organic aloe vera, a sun cap (or wide-brimmed hat for women/girls), and a reusable water bottle.

12. Breakup Soother

I think we’ve all helped friends through breakups at one time or another, and putting together a gift with a few things to cheer someone up will hopefully brighten their spirits a little. An assortment of organic and/or vegan/non-dairy mini ice creams and sorbets can bring at least a bit of joy to the one hoovering them into their face, and a toy voodoo doll set might help to get some frustrations out. Toss in a journal for working out negative emotions, a copy of Pema Chodron’s book “When Things Fall Apart”, and let the healing begin.

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13. For the Avid Gardener

Some people are just born with a green thumb, and for them, you can fill a large metal watering can with heirloom organic seeds, sustainable bamboo-handled garden implements, vegan/organic sunscreen, compost tea powder, organic cotton gardening gloves, knee pads, and even a handful of seed bombs. Actually, add one more: soothing cream for hands that get chapped from working the soil for hours every day.

14. Bibliophile

Most of us know at least one person who’s a total book fiend, and fortunately, gifts for these folks are super-easy to put together. Grab a literary-themed tote bag and toss in a tome from their Amazon or Goodreads wish list, a decorative metal or sustainable wood bookmark, a mug, pack of assorted teas, a journal for notes, and a pen.

15. The Bath Enthusiast

Does someone you love spend all the time they can soaking in a tub? If they do, can you blame them? Fill a re-usable wicker basket with an assortment of organic, vegan, scented bath bombs, salts, bubble bars, and oils, along with a loofah, bath pillow, and some soy candles, and you’ll provide them with the kind of R&R most of us will only dream about.

16. Foodies and Gourmets

Food can indeed be a celebration, and people who enjoy tasting and experiencing new, comely comestibles can be super-fun to buy for. A beautiful basket can contain items like gluten-free organic crackers, vegan caviar, organic/free range charcuterie, local cheeses, free trade chocolate and coffee, and locally-produced jams and preserves. Introducing friends to things like ox eye daisy capers or birch syrup can be life-changing for them, and if you’re really nice, maybe they’ll share with you.

17. For the Pet Parent

For many people, pets are beloved family members and they spoil their furry/feathered kids rotten. If your friends live for their pet, you can put together a little basket of treats, toys, and even a little framed picture or outfit, depending on what kind of animal it is. If you have any doubt about what kind of foods are appreciated by the little feathery or furry beasts, ask in advance.

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18. The Jetsetter

The person who travels a great deal, either for work or pleasure, can sometimes miss the comforts of home. For them, you can fill a small carry-on bag with travel-sized organic care items (toothpaste, shampoo, hand cream), natural bristle toothbrush, hand sanitizer, and bamboo utensil kit. You’ll get bonus points if you also add in a bean-filled neck pillow, book light, and vegan leather luggage tags.

19. Artistically-Inclined

To fuel the imagination of the creative type in your life, consider a small bag that’s filled with a recycled paper sketchbook and sustainable wood pencils, a set of eco-friendly paints or clay, and a hand-written note of encouragement.

20. Condolence Basket

When someone has lost someone important to them, they need care in any form possible. A journal and pen to work out their thoughts and emotions often helps, and a mug paired with a container of organic hot chocolate can be of immense comfort: warmth both inside and out. A heartfelt letter letting them know that you’re there for them would be lovely, as would a small plant, and if the recipient is a child, some sort of stuffed animal. If the one they lost passed on because of a disease, a card that mentions your donation to the charity that funds research for that illness would likely also be appreciated.

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Catherine Winter

Catherine is a wordsmith covering lifestyle tips on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on January 15, 2021

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

Posture

First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

  • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
  • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
  • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
  • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

Facial Expressions

Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

  • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
  • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
  • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

2. Relax Your Face

New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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3. Improve Your Eye Contact

Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

3. Smile More

There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

4. Hand Gestures

Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

5. Enhance Your Handshake

In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

“Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

Final Takeaways

Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

Reference

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