Recently, we have started to become aware of the harm we are doing to our planet by having so much excess at Christmas. It seems quite interesting that we appear to be returning to the Seventies when people had much less money and yet still seemed to enjoy the Christmas albeit without Secret Santa, Elf on the Shelf, endless gifting and enough food to keep you going until the Spring. I have been listening to quite a few programmes on Radio 4 extolling the virtues of having a greener Christmas. Whilst I am not quite at the stage of wrapping my presents in newspaper and giving used items away as gifts, then I would like to be more mindful of waste during the Festive Season. Here are some ideas that I shall be using and for some I have looked to my own childhood for inspiration. Planning is integral to a waste free Christmas.
Set a Budget for gifts.
Ask people for lists to ensure that you buy the gifts that will definitely be used. I have done this with my children this year and I feel much happier, knowing that they will make use of everything. I know that in some ways this may take away the surprise of Christmas gifts but in all honesty, how many times do surprises turn out well? It’s important to think carefully about gifts. I also set a budget for everyone. Instead of buying someone lots of little gifts, consider buying just one special gift.
Avoid stocking fillers.
Stocking fillers are usually endless boxes of chocolates and small useless gifts or just tat. Put that money towards something that will give greater pleasure.
Ask for deeds / experiences rather than possessions.
I much prefer to receive experiences rather than gifts. For my birthday, my husband took me to Goldsborough Hall and he is also doing this for me for Christmas. What could be more wonderful than going away for a special night of luxury in a stately home in the middle of January, when the days are short, and the weather is bleak? You could even offer promises instead of gifts, such as gardening for an elderly relative, baby-sitting or some DIY.
Meal Plan to prevent waste.
How many years have you bought cheese boards, trifles, endless tubs of chocolates and sweets only for them to go to waste? Plan what you are going to eat over the festive season, and not only will your shopping bill reduce, but you will also throw less away. If you do have any excess then most items can be frozen in some way.
Make decorations or gifts with your children.
My Mum still has Christmas decorations made by my brother and I when we were small. Similarly, nothing is more special for a grandparent or a parent than to receive something home-made. Consider something such as rock-painting to make a paperweight, mosaics from broken crockery or a painting that is framed. Children love crafting and not only is it a great way to keep them entertained but it is also a fun family activity. What about baking with your children to make Christmas biscuits for the family?
Use what is free in nature to decorate your house.
There is so much around us that can make lovely decorations. Think of holly, ivy, mistletoe, evergreen. If you must buy a real tree then purchase one in a pot from a proper garden nursery, that will live on.
Make crackers instead of buying them.
In the Seventies, we always made our own crackers using the cardboard from a toilet roll and crepe paper. We would even make the hats and write jokes to go inside. Many retailers are also now aware of the waste from crackers and are offering recyclable ones instead.
If you must use wrapping paper, then use recycled paper or paper that can be used again. Brown parcel paper can look lovely if used with a tartan or red ribbon. I even saw a lovely idea of buying Christmas fabric to wrap gifts that can be used many times over.