I love Christmas time! It’s one of my favourite days on the calendar. I love giving my friends, family, and guests gifts and good food and creating a cozy holiday atmosphere in my home. I am also aware that along with all the celebrations, there is the potential for a lot of waste too. Our collective carbon footprint and emissions go way up transporting and disposing of all the gifts, decor, and wrapping paper waste that happens at this time of year. But it doesn’t have to be that way! I’m sharing ideas for how you can have a more sustainable holiday season and lower your own personal environmental impact. This doesn’t mean you can’t be creative or have to stop gifting traditions or decorating your home! It just means doing it in a more intentional way. Let me show you my favourite sustainable Christmas ideas.
One way to be sustainable this festive season is to incorporate natural items that you already have in your house. For example, I’m sure you have an orange or two in your fridge or on your counter. Did you know you can use oranges in all kinds of ways to supplement Christmas decor and baking? Dried orange slices make wonderful Christmas decorations. I’m sharing all the instructions and the recipe (if something this simple can be called a recipe) with you today. Dried orange slices can be used as cake toppers, in homemade potpourri, or on festive wreaths. I also love using dried oranges for holiday garlands, tree ornaments, and food garnishes.
Another sustainable and budget-friendly Christmas idea is to be creative with your gift wrapping. You can find ways to up-cycle and reuse old paper and make your gifts just as beautiful as you would by purchasing expensive gift wrap. For this gift I reused old packing paper and used natural wrapping embellishments. If you look closely, you will see one of the orange slices we talked about in the last post! Pine cones, beautiful herbs, and real greenery would make for wonderful packaging for eco-friendly gifts too. And I think the absolute best part of this gift wrapping idea is the printable Christmas gift tag inspired by the familiar song, Carol of the Bells.
Thrifting is a time-honoured and respectable way to decorate in an environmentally friendly way. The Christmas season is no exception! When I found an $8 wooden bowl at Value Village, I knew that I could turn it into a beautiful, rustic centerpiece inspired by one I saw at Pottery Barn for $99. This centerpiece looks gorgeous for fall, Christmas, and wintertime, and it’s so easy to make! It includes a gold leafed edge and warm, glowing candles (soy or beeswax are both beautiful choices). You can even customize it with the addition of twinkle lights or greenery. I love how this centerpiece turned out, and I didn’t have to buy anything brand new to create it!
If you are looking for a simple and muted approach to Christmas gift wrapping this year that is also budget-friendly and good for our planet, I’ve got you covered! All of these wrapping paper ideas are easy to do, and most use recycled or recyclable elements that will keep your secrets safe until Christmas morning. See my tutorials on everything from the Furoshiki gift wrapping method (use a square piece of fabric that’s finished on all sides, like a scarf or napkin), to wrapping small but important gifts in old toilet paper rolls, pleating plain brown paper beautifully, and more!
As much as I love trying out new themes and Christmas decor trends each year, I also love saving money and practicing sustainability. One way to do this while still playing with decor themes is to invest in a neutral base of Christmas decorations that you can use year after year. One example for me is a good quality faux tree. I know some of you are all about your real trees, but I just don’t want to do all that work every year! These items become classics that stand the test of time and will be remembered fondly by your kids in their childhood Christmas memories, which is a nice added bonus. The items you use year after year can be your main holiday decor base, and then you can mix in inexpensive trendy accents if you want a fresh look. I’m sharing my list of items that I use every year that I think are worth an investment!
Often, the perfect DIY Christmas decoration materials are right under our noses! I bet you never thought those baby food jars stashed in your cupboard would make affordable, adorable, eco-friendly Christmas tree ornaments, but I’m here to tell you they absolutely will! I love DIY decor like this, because using what we already own is so much better for the environment too. All you need is your jar, some faux snow, a tiny evergreen tree, and some twine for hanging. I found this idea here, and I changed it up a little by using Epsom salts as my faux snow.
One of my constant goals is to try and use more of what I already have on hand to make home decor and crafts. This sweet little stool was made with a dated counter stool I had. I’m so happy with how it turned out! Since it is so practical and neutral in terms of colour and style, it would make a perfect Christmas gift. All you need is an old stool, some basic tools, some faux fur fabric, and a bit of time and DIY magic! Find all the instructions and tips and tricks here.
Up-cycling is the key to a beautiful, sustainable Christmas that still showcases all your creativity and style! I’m going to show you how to make adorable decorative mason jar cozies and Christmas ornaments out of…wait for it…thrifted sweaters! They are perfect for your own holiday decor this year (they’re so Hygge!), or they also make unique gifts. I filled a couple of my cozy jars with fairy lights and candles for cozy Christmas decor, and then I filled the other ones with candy and tied the up-cycled ornaments to them to make unique gifts for teachers & friends. I love how these turned out! These beautiful homemade gifts would be perfect for your secret Santa exchange this year.
Consumables make great sustainable Christmas ideas! These gifts are so practical, often inexpensive, and they never result in unwanted items making a trip to the landfill. Usually what we think about when we hear the word consumables is chocolate or wine. And while there’s nothing wrong with these treats, I have another fantastic consumables idea that is a bit more outside the box! These cozy-themed Christmas gift tags and simmer pot mix are the perfect way to make someone’s holiday extra warm & lovely! The gift tags are a free printable download. And, the festive simmer pot mix is a budget-friendly and beautiful gift. Perfect for the person who has everything!
A beeswax wrap is a reusable alternative to plastic wrap. You can use it to cover bowls, wrap up cheese, sandwiches, fruit pieces, and more! Beeswax wraps are made primarily of cotton fabric and beeswax, and extras like jojoba oil and pine resin can be added to make them softer and stickier. They’re a great natural alternative and make an excellent gift too! They can even do double duty as a fun and reusable wrapping material, which it the ultimate goal of sustainable Christmas ideas! Fortunately for you, I’ve come up with an extra sticky and easy to use version just in time for the holidays!
If you are struggling to come up with the perfect gift for someone who has everything, why not make them one of these beautiful, real evergreen wreaths? This is an excellent “consumable” gift that will last just long enough to bring joy this season, and then can be returned safely to the earth. I used longer spruce tree branches that were bendable enough to make the base of the wreath. This is perfect for a small wreath. A lovely temporary addition to anyone’s holiday decor!
For the ultimate in sustainable Christmas gifting ideas, try making a wreath created from entirely foraged materials from your backyard or closest bit of nature! With some simple evergreen branches and natural embellishments such as berries or pine cones, you can customize this beautiful wreath as the perfect gift for your recipient (or for your own front door), and it won’t cost you or the environment a thing!
I hope you enjoyed these sustainable Christmas ideas, and saw that with just a little bit of effort, it is absolutely possible to make thoughtful and eco-friendly Christmas decorations and gifts that don’t break the bank. Merry Christmas everyone!