All right, people! This is it! This is the year that you spurn the wrapping paper, scorn the plastic tree and baubles and embrace a greener, more sustainable Christmas. Get your family and friends on board; organise a confab and set some rules around what is acceptable at this year’s shindig; go mental with eco-friendly gifts and treats. Get everyone on board with a green event and ban the purchase of wrapping paper, single-use cutlery, plates and cups, straws, bon bons (oh no! I’ll leave the decision about the bon bons up to you…). You don’t need to go to the extreme of getting a Festivus pole or becoming a complete killjoy; you just need to plan ahead. Like more than 3 days ahead. Yes, I’m looking at you!
So what do I need to do to avoid getting caught up in frenzied last-minute shopping where I come home loaded with plastic bags full of plastic wrapping and plastic toys, you ask? Take a look at my tips below, plan out what Christmas looks like this year, start delegating like a mad person and it will all be sweet!
- Try not to buy anything new this Christmas. If you have a plastic tree, wrapping paper, ornaments etc. just use them and try to commit to using them for the rest of your life (or theirs) or pass them on to others.
- Make sure everything you use on the day is reusable – no plastic cutlery, plates, cups etc. If you are hosting and you don’t have enough supplies, ask people to bring whatever you need. I know it’s tempting to use plastic to avoid the clean up but if you ask everyone to pitch in, the clean up can be easy and a fun part of the day.
- Leading up to Christmas, why not do a bit of a clean out at home and give useful items to charity so that others can use them or buy them for presents.
- Grab some gifts from the op shop! There are some amazing toys, books and vintage clothing if you look hard enough! Check out the old school board games that the kids will love for years.
- Swap toys with friends so that you can give ‘new’ toys to kids without buying cheap, plastic junk.
DIY YOUR GIFTS:
- If you are a crafty smarty-pants, make someone something they will love and use. Pinterest is definitely your friend if you are stuck for inspiration or instructions. You could DIY beauty masks, perfume with essential oils, candles, soap, pot pourri (just joking, the eighties are over), bath salts (questionably eighties..) and a plethora of zero waste things like reusable crochet make up wipes, unpaper towels, flannel wipes, cloth napkins, beeswax wraps, bedazzled clothing (am I stuck in the eighties?) and cool lamp shades and hanging gardens out of plastic bottles.
- Canning/preserves – you can preserve fruit all year and whip it out on the day to the collective delight of your guests.
- Chocolates and sweet treats such as toffee, honeycomb or fudge in repurposed glass jars.
- Christmas cakes that you have baked and chucked in a lovely, reusable tin.
- Gift vouchers and experiences: give gifts that are not actually physical gifts and don’t require wrapping or waste like vouchers but consider the type of present you are giving; is it likely to be big and plastic and single-use or will it be ethically-made and low waste? Give vouchers for things such as: slow fashion and ethically made clothing and footwear (Etiko and Boody are great examples!), gardening shops for new seeds or plants, eco-friendly health and beauty products, or downloadable music or e-courses or give experiences such as: movie tickets, tickets to a band or show, a short course, an escape room, a cooking class or dinner at a fancy restaurant.
- Book swap – organise a book swap as part of the festivities. Each guest can bring 5 books from the past year and hand them to someone else who will like them – no need to buy new books for everyone!
- Secret Santa – implement a Secret Santa system for gifts to cut down on the overall extravagance of the day.
- Reusables – to get other members of your shindig to adopt eco-friendly habits for the new year try giving coffee cups, water bottles, straws, solid shampoo and conditioner bars, soaps, anything bamboo, treats bought from bulk food stores and presented in glass jars, cloth napkins and hankies, beeswax wraps… the list goes on! Check out Nourished Life for these kinds of gifts.
- Make a donation on behalf of someone – now I know this doesn’t sound too exciting but there are people who genuinely don’t want useless, gimmicky gifts and would feel happy that their gift will go to help out others; choose wisely so that it is something that reflects who that person is and what they would support.
- Wooden toys – there is now an amazing range of wooden toys and puzzles that can be bought that can be used for years, handed down to future generations and made from sustainable sources.
Did you know that traditional Christmas wrapping paper often has plastic in it and can’t be recycled? And even if your wrapping paper is just paper, it is suuuuuch a waste of paper (and money). Why not have a competition to see who can arrive with the best zero-waste wrapping? You could try:
- newspaper or old comic book pages
- a tea towel or hanky
- a hodge-podge of leftover wrapping paper you have lying around
- a brown paper bag from your local bottle shop (preferably with some kind of bottle inside it!)
- kids’ paintings and drawings that you have saved up all year
- or wrap a present in a present! Use a nice scarf or baby blanket or t-shirt or towel or anything to use as your wrapping (as long as you can figure out how to tie it up… there is a Japanese art to it called ‘Furoshiki’ so you could get into that if you have time..)
It’s a great idea to personalise your gift wrap for the receiver of the gift with drawings or poetry too!
TREE AND DECORATIONS:
- Use a real tree. In a pot. And then plant it afterwards or give it to one of the guests as their present! It doesn’t have to be a pine tree either – anything that you can decorate and put presents under.
- Use the decorations that you’ve been using since forever and get kids to make some more as an activity leading up to Christmas or on the day. If you must buy decorations, grab some from the op shop.
- Use solar-powered lights for the front of your house or to decorate a tree in the front yard.
- Invite people to ‘bring a plate’ but in both senses; bring some reusable plates and cutlery to help out on the day if necessary but also bring a plate of delicious food to share – there is nothing worse that the host having to cater and be in the kitchen all day.
- Bake! Homemade Christmas biscuits and mince tarts? Yes please! Handmade chocolates or coconut ice? Of course! Granny’s traditional Christmas fruit cake? Shut up!
So there you go! This is a good place to start with your eco-friendly Christmas for this year and you’ll only get greener and greener as the years go on. Don’t forget there are lots of other things you can try such as digital Christmas cards (if you are a card giver) and homemade bon bons. Drop me a comment below with any suggestions you’d like to share and have a great festive season!
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