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8 sustainable holiday gift ideas in Bend, Oregon

Pottery from a studio in Bend, Oregon.

You recycle gift wrap and sip cocoa from a reusable mug while roaming Bend’s streets on foot admiring holiday lights. You’re doing your part to tend the planet in this season that sometimes feels like a race to pile up plastic crap.

Thanks for doing your part! You’re not alone in wanting ways to make your holidays more sustainable.

Eco-conscious gift giving guarantees Santa will shift your name from the naughty list to the nice one. Whether you’re seeking sustainable Hanukkah gifts or browsing Bend shops for environmentally conscious Kwanzaa presents, here are eight ideas for making this your most earth-friendly holiday ever.

Did someone say recycle?

If there’s an adventurer in your life who also loves saving the planet, look no further than The Salty Boob. It’s a Bend-based company committed to keeping retired gear out of landfills by making bike baskets, custom frame bags, and other goodies out of repurposed materials.

If high-end consignment clothing is your jam––not to mention locally-made, upcycled jewelry––hit Cosa Cura in Northwest Crossing. They’ve got great one-of-a-kind accessories made by local artists, plus vintage clothing and probably the perfect outfit for that holiday party you’re dreading.

Want to combine holiday shopping with some recycling of your own? The Bend Visitor Center stocks all sorts of locally-made goodies from candles to guide books to reusable water bottles. We’re also one of only two spots in Bend where you can recycle those pain-in-the-butt plastic can carriers so popular these days on beer, cider, and kombucha. Swing by with your reusable shopping bag filled with PakTech plastic, dump it in our bin, and leave with your bag full of great gifts. 

Multitasking for the win!

Each year, Visit Bend produces a stunning coffee table called Ineffable.

Support a charity, get a great gift!

So many fabulous charities have their donation cups out this holiday season, and we trust you to judge where your charitable dollars should go.

But allow me to make a small plea for the Bend Sustainability Fund

In a nutshell, the Bend Sustainability Fund supports projects that create or enhance sustainable projects in and around Bend. Recent examples include things like river restoration projects or a plan to restore the historic Warm Springs Commissary to create space for food, art, education, and tribal history.

Awesome cause, right?

And here’s a clever way to contribute. Visit Bend produces a stunning coffee table called Ineffable. This sustainably-produced photo collection features Central Oregon’s landscapes, people, recreation, and urban settings. We’ve got three years’ worth of them for sale at $15 apiece, or bundle them in a gift-worthy trio for just $30. Then divvy them up among your favorite people on this year’s gift list. All funds from the sale of Ineffable go to the Bend Sustainability Fund, and you can grab your copies when you swing by to drop off those PakTech plastics.

A group prepares to throw axes at a business in Bend, Oregon.

The axe throwing experience at Unofficial Logging Co. is a sure win for anyone on your list!

Give experiences, not stuff

A few years back, my fam shifted to buying mostly experience-based gifts instead of tangible stuff. It’s now become a habit, and even though that post I just linked to is a few years old, I refer to it each year for ideas on experience-based gifts.

Don’t tell my kids, but this year we’re taking everyone out with R’oming Yoga for a forest bath the day after Christmas. We’ve never done it before, but it seems like a sweet way to connect us all to nature (and each other) in this season where we’re rushing around madly without stopping to appreciate much.

Other experience-based gifts that wowed my fam over the years include a family snowmobile adventure, hatchet throwing at Unofficial Logging Co, and a family escape room experience at Puzzle Effect.

One year when funds were lean, we spent five bucks per family member for an hour of vintage arcade game play together at Vector Volcano. We laughed, we competed, we found our holiday spirit somewhere between the pinball machines and Ms. Pac-Man.

It really isn’t the price that matters. It’s the chance to do something together with your loved ones in the winter wonderland that’s Bend.


Did you know!? Deschutes Brewery uses spent grain in some of their baked goods.

Nom nom nom

For the foodie in the fam, a gift certificate for a Bend restaurant makes a great way to support local businesses while giving a present you know won’t go to waste. 

Look for dining spots committed to sourcing local meats and produce, like Jackson’s Corner, Chow, or Deschutes Brewery, which embraces sustainability by using spent grain in some of their baked goods as well as in cattle feed that eventually produces the juicy burger you’ll enjoy there.

Consider locally-made stocking stuffer snacks like scrumptious popcorn from Brown Bag Popcorn Co. (OMG, the black garlic truffle!!!) or HolmMade Toffee (the Himalayan Pink Salt…mmmm!)

Though the Bend Farmer’s Market isn’t happening in the dead of winter, buy a gift certificate for your loved one to use when the market runs May through October next year.

Or hit Central Oregon Locavore, which is basically a ginormous indoor farmer’s market operating year round. They’re committed to supporting an ecologically stable and socially just food system in Central Oregon by improving access to fresh, nutrient-dense local food, as well as supporting local farmers and educating the community about the benefits of sustainably produced food. Pretty good mission to pair with a pile of locally-made snacks, right?

Remember the basics this season: reduce, reuse, & recycle.

Go green with gift wrap

If you’re hunting for quirky-cool wrapping paper and gift bags, try locally-owned Newport Market or Paper Jazz in Downtown Bend. The latter even sells paper in small quantities so you only buy what you need.

Keep in mind what’s actually recyclable when making your purchases. Tissue paper, foil wrapping paper, plastic ribbon, plastic packaging, and photo printed holiday cards cannot be recycled at Knott Landfill’s Deschutes Recycling Center. 

You can recycle non-foil wrapping paper, paperboard packaging, cardboard boxes, paper holiday cards, and ripped or otherwise unusable gift bags.

Fun as it is to tear into wrapped gifts like you’re a rabid dog, consider handling them with care so you can reuse wrapping paper and gift bags. 

You can also try wrapping gifts with recycled shopping bags or sheets of our local newspaper.

Somewhere That's Green plant shop in Bend, Oregon.

Somewhere that’s Green has a plant to fit any personality—and budget.

While we’re talking green…

If your first thought when I say “give the gift of green” is to hit a Bend dispensary or cannabis shop, rock on with your wacky baccy.

But actually, I meant plants.

One of my most cherished Mother’s Day gifts came from my now-17-year-old stepdaughter, who proudly marched into Somewhere That’s Green and bought the mammary inspired planter she knew I wanted. I’d show you a picture if I didn’t think I’d get spanked for posting naughty pics on the blog (and speaking of spanking, Pretty Pussycat has plenty of great gifts in that realm).

But I digress.

Gifting houseplants comes with a whole host of health benefits, from stress reduction to improving the quality of your indoor air.

Plus all that lush green is bound to remind you of Central Oregon’s sprawling forests. Inspiration for planning another Bend adventure? Yes, please!


Do some DIY 

If the “experiences, not gifts” plan resonates with you but you still want something tangible, how about a do-it-yourself gift experience?

Schedule a cooking class for you and a loved one through Kindred Creative Kitchen or Kara’s Kitchenware. You’ll go home with a full belly and a new set of culinary skills.

Book a class at DIY Cave in Bend and learn everything from jewelry-making to woodworking to blacksmithing to homebrewing and more. I bought my husband a gift card for a welding class here a few years ago and he still talks about how much fun he had.

Stop by AD Glass & Design to set up that special someone with personal glass blowing lessons. Make it extra personal by using ashes from a departed pet or loved one to create a one-of-a-kind memorial piece.

Group rides the chairlift at Mt. Bachelor.

Give the gift of new experiences, like a lift ticket or lesson at Mt. Bachelor.

Get outside together

Perhaps the most precious gift you can give your loved one is time.

While that’s tough to wrap with a big bow, you can channel your love of Bend’s wild places by planning a one-of-a-kind outdoor adventure.

Book a cave tour or moonlight snowshoe adventure, or plan ahead with a gift card for canoeing this summer with Wanderlust Tours.

Gift your favorite bike enthusiast a fat bike adventure with Cog Wild, or set up your sweetie with some Mt. Bachelor lift tickets.

If money’s tight, try gifting someone a Bend hiking guide. My personal fave is Bend Overall by Scott Cook, and we sell it in the Bend Visitor Center. Flag a few pages of hikes you’d like to try, then hand it to your loved one with a card pledging to explore outdoors together.

Happy holidays, everyone! Let’s make it our most sustainable celebration evah.

The Bend Adventure Journal

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