It’s that time of the year again when we see Christmas decorations start to fill the streets. Most of these decorations sold in your regular stores are made from materials that typically get thrown out and end up in landfills (like plastic). Everywhere you look, it stares back at you in the form of trees, decorations, gifts, and wrapping paper. It is enough to put you off of the holiday cheer completely.
The pull of stocking up on things you don’t need is at its peak during this period. Storefronts decked up with shiny products and discount offers to tempt you no end. Social media doesn’t help with pictures of homes decked up for the season with red and white dinner sets, or large plastic trees that take up most of the floor space in your living room, and of course, toys and gifts for all ages. Here are some ideas that allow you to lead a low-waste lifestyle and conform to the true meaning of Christmas.
Teaching kids the meaning of Christmas
It is very easy for us all to get swept up in the excitement of the season and load up on things we will hardly ever use. Gifts are given just for the sake of giving and which will be discarded soon enough. Plastic trees and cheap decor get thrown out along with the year gone by, and you’ll find shiny wrapping paper and bows strewn about the streets.
We are trying our best to stay away from all that as much as we can. Our son is still young and very interested in the material world. They’re still exploring the physical world at this age, so we can hardly expect them to rise above it and focus on the non-material joys. But that doesn’t mean we don’t try.
Because we don’t celebrate Christmas traditionally, no friends or extended families are sending over gifts. This makes it easier for us to handle the expectations of a large gift pile as our son doesn’t get more than two or three gifts that we curate. We also emphasise that gifts can be many things, not just toys.
As for the tree and decorations, we’ve got that ground covered!
DIY eco-friendly Christmas trees
Plastic-free Christmas trees aren’t that complicated to make. If you’re looking for easy Christmas tree ideas, then cardboard Christmas trees are the easiest and cheapest to make. Any cardboard packaging material we get from our online shopping, we try to convert into something useable, and the rest goes for recycling. This is also a great way to teach kids to use materials we usually discard. It helps them expand their imagination and creativity and is a great activity to do together—after all, the whole point of the season is to spend quality time with loved ones.
The first year we celebrated Christmas with our son, we had some packaging from IKEA saved up. They have good sturdy cardboard of different thicknesses.
We used the corrugated bits to make the stem and the plain cardboard sheet to cut out the tree frame. My son had a lovely afternoon getting messy with the paints. We used regular water-based paints. I used a golden marker to highlight the edges to make it a little fancy. He then decorated with some pieces of colourful paper. A string of lights along with a few bits and bobs, and it was perfect.
The tree we made the following year was cardboard as well. We just needed one large cardboard box to make the pattern listed below. Our son painted it and decorated it with stickers. The rest of the decor was carried forward from previous years; most are gifted ornaments.
Eco-friendly Christmas trees from sustainable materials
This year we decided to get an actual tree. I was so glad to find these coir trees. They’re natural and sustainable. I just touched it up with some paint to make it more festive. I used acrylic paint, which I realised later is not compostable, but then I didn’t use a lot of it.
We were gifted some more handmade ornaments this year from friends, which we’ve added to the collection. We’ve also switched to a smaller string light since the older one was large and battery operated. We made the star topping by making a small cone with card paper and sticking a shiny star cut-out.
You could also make some eco-friendly holiday decorations by stringing some popped corn or fabric buntings if you have the time.
There are other options for eco-friendly Christmas trees in wood if you prefer that. However, why restrict your imagination. Make a pile of books into your tree, or gather up a few terracotta pots painted green and stack them over each other. For decorations, colour some newspaper strips or use small toys. Take stock of things at home or natural materials around you, then get creative.
We also added a few small creative Christmas trees to spruce up some of the other corners of the house.
Also, before anyone asks, we did try for an actual Christmas tree, but we’re finding it very difficult to keep it healthy and alive. If we manage to keep it from dying, we’ll be using that next year.
I hope this inspires you to think beyond plastic this year. Have a Merry Holiday Season filled with love and joy.
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