1. Make natural decorations
It’s not only more sustainable to make your own decorations but it’s fantastic activity the whole family can enjoy! You can make beautiful garlands, natural wreath or Christmas tree decorations. Choose natural materials such us wood, paper, cinnamon sticks, pine cones, nuts. Get the kids involved in drying slices of lemon, apple and oranges and making fragrant master pieces. Recycling is absolutely OK too! Paper origami, mini cardboard stockings…sky is the limit.
Each year I make a beautiful, natural wreath out of thing I fridge for and find in my garden. If you have never made one before and don’t know where to start I just want to re-assure you that it’s very straight forward. Find plenty of tutorials on You Tube or join a wreath making class with your fried and make a nice day out of it. I find Pinterest a great place for inspiration when I’m stuck for ideas.
2. Re-invent your advent calendar
Don’t we all love anticipation and excitement of the good old advent calendar?! Children especially are very much looking forward to this festive countdown.
- INVEST IN RE-USABLE – Having a good quality wooden or fabric calendar is a great way to help minimize the waste but also getting creative with the content. There are also great decoration! Win Win.
- ACTIVITY OVER ITEMS – Once you have your re-usable calendar what to put in it can be a task alone! Think outside of the box, it does not have to be materialistic! What we should really cherish is time together. It’s also great opportunity to remind ourselves that Christmas is not just about receiving gifts.
Here are some suggestions for messages that you can print and put inside your advent calendar:
- Donate 4 chosen foods to your local food bank
- Bake a cupcakes and share with your neighbors
- Make some popcorn and watch a movie
- Make a salt dough and to make decorations together
- Learn about one endangered animal and make a small donation to save it
- Make a home made face mask for the whole family to enjoy some pampering
- Go for a walk with torches, what can you spot?
3. Plan you menu to prevent food waste
Christmas is a time of a year we are all looking forward to. Spending quality time with your family and friends and of course sharing delicious food. With adverts of tempting food and drink hitting us on TV and on social media and promotions in the supermarkets for weeks before the main event it’s not difficult to overbuy. We end up with heaps of food that sadly often goes to waste. Approximately 270,000 tons of it during the holidays alone! Luck of planning is the main contributor.
How to keep you food waste to minimum and save money?
- PLAN AHEAD – It really is worth spending some time planning how much you will actually need. If you are hosing, realistic calculation according to number of guests would be your best bet. That goes for starters, snacks and sides. If you are taking charge of the kitchen, inform your guests not to bring any food or simply delegate to others what dishes they could contribute with so you have just enough of everything. Make a shopping list and stick to it!
- EAT YOUR LEFTOVERS – No matter how good your planning is there will always be some leftovers. Plan a no cooking day after Christmas and eat what you have in the fridge. Use the extra time you would have normally spent preparing a meal for playing board games, reading a book or going outside.
- DON’T FALL IN TRAP OF PROMOTION – Don’t get tempted by multi packs and other promotions and try to stick to your shopping list. It’s only worth the promotion if you are going to eat it! Multi pack really are for very large families and the risk is that once packets are opened the product will go off sooner than you are able to go through it. Not a saving at all!
- LOVE YOUR FREEZER – If your leftovers would feed more like another party of 10 your freezers will be your lifebuoy. Cooked meat can be sorted in small batches and used in stews, pies, pasta sauces, soups. Cooked or roasted vegetables can also be frozen and used later for sauces, soups and stews.
- DONATE – That’s another way of saving the food you put so much love and effort into preparing. There are many great free apps where food can be shared among your neighborhood. One of may favorite being OLIO. You can also donate directly to food banks, homeless shelter etc.
4. Look into greener gift option
There is nothing wrong with treating ourselves and others during this special time. With all the pressure we do however tend to buy whatever comes into our hand. To prevent panic buying it’s worth making a plan well ahead and take the time to do your research.
Here are other things you can consider:
- SHOP LOCAL – supporting local shops is definitely more sustainable and considerate. Not only your reduce the cost of transportation but also support local economy.
- HANDMADE GIFTS –There are plenty of little gift you can attempt to make yourself! Biscuits, fudge, candles, lavender bags, paintings… You will have so much fun making it and gifting it to people you love. Not a crafty person? ETSY is one of my favorite places to shop for handmade goods.
- MAKE IT LAST – Try to choose gift that count! It’s much better to make one good choice instead of panic buying lots of stuff risking it will be thrown out.
- EXPERIENCES OVER THINGS – Buying an experience it one of my favorite solutions for those who have it all! Pottery class, sushi making, horse lesson or massage voucher can be all very refreshing.
- BE INVENTIVE WITH GIFT WRAPPING – It’s a great idea to keep all your gift bags from previous years and reuse them again. When it comes to wrapping be open-minded! If you want to keep it colorful opt for is natural and recyclable one. Pages of old magazines, music sheets, fabric can be great alternative to the traditional ways. Even when using a plain paper, a bit of holly or pretty name tag can do the trick! Covers of Christmas cards you have received last year can be used as name tags too! It’s a great recycling tip.
5. Make your own cards
Even if you are not a crafty person there are so many simple and stunning cards you can make, no experience is needed. Internet is full of ideas and inspirations, all you need is some paper, cardboard, pens, old newspapers, bits of ribbon…use what you have at home. This year is very different for everybody and may will be spending Christmas separated from their loved once. Together with my boys I have made some extra cards that were donated to people in care homes and those that are lonely. Not only great cause but also good opportunity to highlight to the kids how important it is to support your local community and remember about those who are less fortunate.
6. Christmas Tree – Real or Fake?
Which tree is more sustainable, plastic that will last you for few years or natural that you will need to get rid of after the festive period? Short answer- REAL is more sustainable! Real trees come from local tree farms and are grown specifically for this time of the year. By buying real tree you support local & national business and of course once the time come your tree can be fully recycled and become useful gardening material. During their growth they also contribute to capturing some CO2 which helps the climate. Another alternative is to get a tree in a pot. After the festivities it will continue growing happily outside in your garden or on a balcony and can be re-used next year. You might find this article by The Nature Conservancy helpful if you would like to explore the real V fake subject a little more.