Are you fed up of spending ridiculous amounts of money on that holly jolly time of the year? Do you, like me...start shopping for Christmas in August/September? Do you want to be more eco, spend less, and enjoy it more??
Here's our TOP TIPS for having a eco-friendly, wallet/purse friendly Christmas.
TOP TIP NUMBER 1....RENT A CHRISTMAS TREE
Real Christmas Trees are MUCH MORE sustainable than plastic ones. In fact, one study concluded you'd have to use your fake fir for 20 years for it to be greener. That said, seven million real trees will be dumped in January rather than recycled.
This year you could go one further by renting a real tree from a British farm. Places like Love A Christmas Tree offers real Nordmann Firs delivered to your door from their Leicestershire family farm from £20. (They only deliver in the Leicestershire county, but if you GOOGLE Rent a Christmas Tree, they do have other farms that offer the same service). You decorate and care for the tree during the festive period, then they'll pick it up and replant in January. Win, win.
After Christmas, go to recyclenow to find out about drop-off points in your area, where your old tree will be recycled into chippings for local parks and woodland areas. Alternatively, take it to your local dump where you can add it to the other green waste or chop it up and stack the wood in your garden to create a habitat for birds and bugs.
TOP TIP NUMBER 2...CHOOSE THE RIGHT WRAPPING PAPER
More than HALF of us re-use last year's wrapping paper, OR...we go to the January Sales and buy next year's wrap and cards at Half Price or LESS. What many of us don't realise though, is that MOST of the wrapping paper nowadays contain non-recyclable elements such as foil, glitter or plastic.
If you want to know if your wrapping paper can be recycled or not, use the scrunch test. Scrunch up the paper in your hards and then let it go. If the paper stays scrunched up then it can be recycled but, if it unfolds by its own accord, then it likely contains non-recyclable elements.
Opt instead for recycled wrapping paper, kraft paper or tissue. If you want to get the children involved without showing them what 'Santa' bought, ask them to draw Christmas pictures on kraft paper. This then allows them to be creative, and you can wrap grandad/grandma's presents in their grandchildren's creations.
Store gift bags rather than recycling right away. They can usually be reused more than once with a new tag.
Try knot wraps – colourful fabric squares that can be re-used again and again.
TOP TIP NUMBER 3....DON'T BUY CHRISTMAS CARDS....SEND E-CARDS
E cards used to be something lazy people did when they couldn't be bothered going out to the shops to pick cards for family. Now, it's more about saving trees. There are so many companies online now that do e-cards, it saves paper...and your whole house, from displaying Christmas cards, that some, didn't even plan on receiving!
How many of us give cards to receive them? How many of us give out Christmas cards at work to be polite, or to show your friends that you care, or, being honest, you want to know who likes you??? HAHAHA........then low and behold, you find Christmas cards from Wendy, James or Nigel and you haven't bothered with cards for them simply because...you weren't bothered.
You panic, go out and buy more....and buy a pack of 20 just to write 3 cards...? We've all done it. I admit, I've been in a work environment where you've written cards for the right people, then you find cards from the new person, or the awkward person and you think SHIT...I haven't got enough cards for them all. You run out and waste £2 on a pack of cards that you only take 3 or 4 out of....what happens to the other 16???
Take my advice, start a 'pot' at work where everyone puts in £2 (the typical price of a pack of Christmas cards), you explain that 'this year we're not doing Christmas cards, the total pot will go 'behind the bar' or 'pay for our work's night out'. It works wonders and you suddenly get this HUGE sigh of relief from EVERYONE!!!
As for family, again, explain that you don't want to waste money on cards so they're going to get an e-card. They're more fun and creative as you can personalise them for the person on the receiving end.
Here's some examples of e-card sites: Blue Mountain, Got Free Ecards, Marie Curie, Punchbowl and JibJab and if you insist on sending a personalised card through the post to that Special someone....1 Tree Cards is great because each card you buy, they plant 1 new tree. This is just an example...
TOP TIP NUMBER 4....RECYCLE CHRISTMAS CARDS AS GIFT TAGS OR GIVE THEM TO THE SALLY ARMY
Yes, OK....you've just heard me tell you NOT to buy Christmas cards, but, what if you have a house full of cards that you don't know exactly what to do with them?
As kids, we were always brought up to recycle or reuse things because they had a dual purpose. Find the best Christmas cards in your piles of 100s from work and family, cut off the front and fashion part of it (usually the pictures) into gift tags for NEXT Christmas. Give your kids a set of pinking scissors and show them what to do and come back half an hour later and you'll have a whole box of tags that you haven't had to go out and buy. WIN WIN.
If you don't have any children, or simply just don't have time to sit and be a bit crafty....because some of us know there simply aren't enough hours in the day, take all your cards along to ANY supermarket and throw them in the Sally Army Christmas Card recycling bins.
The scheme started in 2011, first with Morrisons, now...every supermarket has a bin that they collect at the end of the week for the first 4 weeks of January and they recycle ALL your old cards so that they don't have to go to Landfill. Again...WIN, WIN!!!
TOP TIP NUMBER 5...BUY LESS FOOD
OK, It's easier said than done when you're catering for the whole family....trust me, I've seen my sister cater for everyone, on BOTH sides of my family at Christmas....everyone except ME. She hired out the local village hall, set up a table for 20 people to have Christmas dinner and made sure that, to reduce the waste...and the cost of Christmas dinner, she made EVERYONE bring something to dinner. Well, not quite everyone. There was 8 children...my 4 nieces and nephews, my 2 cousins and her twin Brother's-in-Law. She made my grandma make roast potatoes, Dad cooked Ham & Turkey, her mother-in-law brought Sprouts and Stuffing....the list was endless. But, when everyone was done...there wasn't a scrap of food gone to waste!!!
We all fall for the Christmas Food Guides given out by M&S, Morrisons, Asda and Tesco....or if you like luxury....Waitrose and Sainsbury's. You fall into that trap of 'Ooh, I can order my food online and pick it up on Xmas Eve, I don't need to go shopping because I can do it from my sofa'. I've seen it, many Christmases over.....I worked for Morrisons for 16 years and trust me, the more we offer, the more people spend....!!!
Try and be a bit frugal, try and spend a little less, and care about the planet a little bit more. Shop at your local shops, support small businesses and farms shops. Buy Turkey from your butcher, ask him if he makes stuffing, instead of buying from a packet. Buy fruit and veg with NO plastic packaging, set a limit to what you'll spend, but most of all, limit the amount of people you're cooking for....and if you ARE catering for the ENTIRE family, take a leaf out of my sister's book.....ask everyone to BRING something.
TOP TIP NUMBER 6...HAVE A CRAFTY CHRISTMAS
Have you ever wanted to make your own Christmas decorations for your tree, or wanted to make your own advent calendars for your children? Done something a little more personal?
Children LOVE the build up to Christmas Eve/Day. Every morning they open a new window on their advent calendars and eat a tiny piece of chocolate, counting down the days til Santa arrives. How about something completely different???
Start a 'chat' with all your friends, ask them if they have any books that their children don't read anymore and have a 'book exchange'. Then, wrap up all the books you've collected/swapped in kraft paper and number each book 1-24 with the very last book being 'Twas the night before Christmas' (you may need to buy that one).
Every night the children get to open 1 book, and read it as a bedtime story. Once all the books are opened, the best is always the last. And the next morning...they get all their presents sitting under the tree and they haven't had a single ounce of chocolate the whole time.
In the run up to the BIG EVENT, as you're putting up your Christmas tree and decorations, get your children to MAKE decorations from Salt Dough or biscuits and decorate them themselves. Follow our previous blog from October half term to find some quick easy recipes for salt dough, play dough and non-toxic paint.
We also, whilst researching for this blog, found some AWESOME recipes for homemade Christmas decorations from BBC's Good Food Magazine so, have a whirl, get your kids to be creative, and make this Christmas more about home and less about what's #trending. Because we all fall into that trap of 'what is this years IN colour?'.
TOP TIP NUMBER 7....BUY THE RIGHT CHRISTMAS CRACKERS...OR LEARN HOW TO MAKE THEM!!!
Replace single-use crackers with reusable ones. Some are made from natural linen and some allow you to add your own personalised gifts.
Visit here for some fantastic eco alternatives to the cheap nasty plastic filled Christmas crackers.
TOP TIP NUMBER 8 HANG THAT STOCKING....BUT FILL THEM WITH ECO-FRIENDLY STOCKING FILLERS!!!
Before we even start discussing anything new, is there anything already in your home you can swap with another parent? Unworn clothes, unwanted birthday gifts, books that have never inspired your kids’ attention…can you trade a bunch of unwanted goodies for some new-to-you items? And ask yourself what you already own that your kids haven’t seen before, such as old items from your childhood.
As a child, my mother went on a pilgrimage to buy one – just one – special bauble. That bauble would hang on your Christmas tree every year because it was yours, and only YOU got to place it on the tree. It’s a really precious and enduring memory, the ritual of visiting the shops, seeing the lights, and pottering through the festive department stores was magic in its own right. Each item was delicately packed away, ready to be rediscovered the next year. a pack of 3 blank baubles can be bought from Hobbycraft that your children can decorate any way they wish. Conveniently bulky for padding out a stocking, bamboo cutlery, plates, bowls and cups are something every young child loves to see. Especially if they have their favourite things decorated on them, like Dinosaurs, jungle animals and even Star Wars. Our Bamboo travel mugs and cutlery/crockery sets are great for that 'fill the last inch of the stocking' fillers, or even, for a new baby's first Christmas. Travel games are also a great filler, something as simple as a pack of cards, a wooden jigsaw puzzle, magnetic games such as Hangman, Bingo or traditional Pencil & Paper games like this example from Amazon. My grandparents used to get a box and fill it with individually wrapped presents, from pens and pencils to paint, sweets, games etc etc. If this is too time consuming, take some of the elements such as pencils and pens and wrap them for a 'filler'. For example, these colouring pencils are made recycled newspapers. And finally, a stocking wouldn't be a stocking without some bath products inside it. We sell bath bombs, bubble bars, soaps and bamboo toothbrushes. So, if you're trying to fill a gap, or want something small and easily wrap-able, visit our shop for some pocket friendly fun gifts.