Fun Eco-Friendly Christmas Ideas
How to make yours a Green Christmas
Ahhh Christmas…a time of many things, including huge amounts of excess. But there are plenty of ways to modify your Christmas to a less wasteful one without losing any of the beauty of it.
The Question of the Christmas Tree
Of course, one option is not to have one at all! Those of us with kids, however, might have a bit of a battle with that one. Buying a live Christmas Tree is not so bad really, as long as you compost it when you are done. A better option is to buy a living Australian Christmas Tree in a pot – such as an Albany Woolly Bush – and re-use it each year.
Another option is to make your own Christmas Tree from recycled or waste materials – the kids will really enjoy this project. You can make one from recycled paper (instructions here), from bound branches (like in the second image), or assorted planks and object that have been green washed (image 3). I must say, we’ve been making our own Christmas trees for several years now and the kids are quite happy with it – each year it is unique and interesting (and as long as there are presents under it, we are all happy!)
How about Christmas decorations?
Be it for your tree, your table setting, or your front door, your Christmas decorations don’t need to be store bought plastic. Here are some really beautiful, natural and home made decorations you can make – and when it is time to pack them up, you can re-use them for an entirely different purpose.
First up, aren’t these hand embroidered tree decorations beautiful? The kids draw the pictures of the family, and then embroider the outlines. Lovely to hang on the tree, and also lovely to use as bookmarks afterwards (and beautiful gifts for grandparents!) I also really love these recycled bottle top magnets…place them around the table to indicate who is sitting where, or perhaps add string to hang them on your tree. Instructions for making these beautiful keep-sakes here.
Then, finish off your beautiful table setting with home made beeswax candles.
Salt dough ornaments are not only delightfully colourful for decorating your tree, but also for hanging from your front door and by your bed-head! Felt balls make these pine cones so pretty and colourful, and how about these gorgeous paddle pop stick Christmas trees.
Eco-friendly gift wrapping ideas
I was lucky to be brought up with the idea of home made gift wrapping. I’m not sure if it was because my parents didn’t think wrapping paper was worth spending money on or because it was so much more creative to make it ourselves – either way, we’ve kept up the tradition and I have to say we are all very happy with it. Here are some of the ways we’ve made our own gift-wrapping.
Ask your local butcher for a stack of butchers paper, and do a session of marble painting, or just finger painting will do with home made, edible finger paints. Or what about wrapping your gifts with random, out of date paper items – such as old maps or old colored magazine pages.
We’ve often used old newspaper to gift wrap, and then decorated it with paint – what about decorating your recycled gift wrap with potato prints? (you can do the decorating after the wrapping – just make sure it has time to dry.) I’m also a big fan of gift wrapping with material – this image shows wrapping with colourful tights (which you can often find at the op-shop), but you can use any piece of colourful material you have – or even a beautiful second hand pillow case.
Food and drinks with a lower environmental impact and less waste
We’ve covered lots of ways you can reduce the amount of landfill waste your party generates in our previous posts Running a Sustainable Event and DIY Party treats. These two posts have included things like making your own carbonated drinks, home made dips (no more plastic tubs), choosing biodegradable catering ware that can be composted, and having good waste recycling systems set up – so we won’t cover those ideas again here.
But what about the quantity of food served at your dinner party? One of the most recognisable aspects of Christmas parties I have attended has been the huge oversupply of food – way more than anyone could ever eat. What can we do? If you have a say in it – plan amounts – try not to over cater. Make sure you manage left-overs in a responsible way – offer them to guests for their next meal, refrigerate or freeze them so they are not wasted, take them to your next party – or even invite close friends over for a slap up meal the next day, using up all of your leftovers.
Wasting food is so much more than wasting that food in front of you – it also wastes the water and energy it took to grow it, the labour to harvest, the petrol to transport it to you and refrigerate it – and finally, the waste costs to dispose of it.
The type of food you serve is also an opportunity to be more eco-friendly. Have a bit less meat and a few more fresh, locally grown and chemical free vegetables – meat requires so much more resources to grow than vegetables. Buy seasonal food from local farmers and shops to support your own local economy and help ensure those producers are still there in ten years time!
So – enjoy a Christmas celebration with way less waste, way more hands on fun, and way less cost to both your pocket and the environment! You deserve to crack open a homemade christmas cracker with some personalised goodies in it! Go on – enjoy!