Celebrate Christmas Sustainably this year
It is so easy to get caught up in the commercial wave of excess at this time of year, feeling that everything has to live up to some perfect ideal of what Christmas should be, only to wake up on Boxing Day feeling exhausted relief that we got through it all!
My heart aches when I imagine the landfills filled with piles of wrapping, ribbon, broken plastic decorations, packaging and unwanted gifts the week after Christmas.
The good news is, it doesn’t have to be that way!
I wanted to share a few ideas to help you celebrate Christmas meaningfully and sustainably this year.
Christmas should not cost the Earth
The true spirit of Christmas is a celebration of the gift of love. What better way to honour this than to celebrate and show our love to others in thoughtful ways that have very little impact on the earth?
Here are some tips to inspire you:
Try to avoid the foil and plastic-coated paper that doesn't recycle easily. There are beautiful and fun alternatives:
- Use brown craft paper, decorated with stamps or handwritten, meaningful words
- Use thrifted scarves and fabric or new tea towels to wrap presents
- Buy baskets or containers from Op shops to present the gifts in
- Children’s old artwork from school and Kindy make beautiful wrapping paper.
Handmade and heartwarming
Some of the most special gifts are those that are handmade. Knowing that someone put care and time into making something unique for you is as precious as the gift itself!
Here are some ideas:
My kids and I are making these for their teachers this year and there are heaps of easy DIY recipes online.
The way to my dad’s heart is always through handmade treats. In the past I’ve filled lovely big glass jars with rocky road, shortbread and fudge and tied a ribbon around it - it doesn’t get much sweeter than that! I love this simple microwave Russian Fudge recipe: https://www.chelsea.co.nz/browse-recipes/bens-microwave-russian-fudge/ It’s super easy and makes a big batch - just make sure you use a large bowl!
Of course, you can also wrap the sweet treats up in Bee Green food wraps which add to the gift!
Make your own spice blends for BBQ lovers, pickles and chutneys or pesto, with a recipe for use attached.
Quality not quantity
Does your list of people you need to buy for look overwhelming? A great way to avoid this is to do a Secret Santa. Write down the names of all your family members or friends and then draw out one name for each person to secretly give a gift to. (You can also do this online at https://www.drawnames.com and each person is emailed their secret person’s name)
This gives everyone the opportunity to buy or make one special, meaningful gift for someone. You could even set a monetary limit, such as $20 per gift.
Meaningful rather than more
Simple, personal gifts mean so much. Think outside the box a little.
Do you know an avid gardener? How about gifting them a plant or a care pack of gardener’s hand wash and cream? For the tea or coffee lover, a special blend of their favourite brew with a beautiful, NZ made artisan mug. A foodie family member might love a beautiful bowl or cheese board and a Bee Green Big Flat Wrap to use with it. Do you have a friend who absolutely hates cleaning windows? Give her a handmade voucher offering to do it for her (you’re an amazing friend!) or a gift voucher from a cleaning company.
Keep it local
Christmas is a great time to buy locally made items online or at markets. Not only are you supporting New Zealand businesses but you are also reducing the environmental impact of transportation.
Buy a good quality item from an Opshop and upcycle it in some way. Some ideas are a picture frame with a special photo or printed quote, pot plant holders and small furniture items like tables and chairs.
Gift an experience
When you gift someone an experience, the anticipation and memory of the experience long outlasts Christmas day, especially if it is something that you will do together. Some suggestions are a planned day-trip, tickets to a show or event or a cooking class. It could even be as simple as a handmade voucher for a shoulder massage or car wash.
Gifts that keep giving
Imagine waking up on Christmas morning knowing that you have helped someone in need on the other side of the world? There are charities and organisations that enable you to give a donation as a gift on behalf of someone to help the less fortunate. One suggestion is Smiles Gifts from World Vision which enable you to give a gift to a needy community in the name of your loved one.
Keeping it green this Christmas
With a little thought and preparation, it is possible to celebrate Christmas in ways that show we care about each other and our planet.