How to

Eco-Friendly Holiday Ideas

Have a Green Christmas

Christmas is a beloved holiday which many people look forward to all year. However, more and more is known about the environmental impact that Christmas creates.  

Every year, Christmas produces hundreds of million tons of added waste to our landfills.  From wrapping paper to unwanted gifts to cards and decorations, much of this waste is avoidable. Additionally, carbon emissions are increased due to the production of things like Christmas trees, wrapping paper, decorations, etc. Fear not though, eco-friendly doesn’t mean cancelling Christmas!

  • Eco Decorating

    You can make your whole house feel festive with a few simple ideas. Everyday items can be transformed into holiday decorations with a small amount of effort. Always go through what you already own before buying something new. Visit garage sales or thrift stores for items for potential decorating ideas or ask friends and family if they have extra holiday decorations. Check out second-hand stores, community trade or buy and sell sites.

    Here are some ideas to get you started.

    • Fill a glass pitcher, clear vase or interesting jar with any one of the following:
      • Cinnamon sticks tied together in bunches with ribbon
      • Dried fruit, such as lemon, orange or apple slices
      • Gingerbread men
      • Leftover scraps of ribbon from wrapping gifts
      • Nuts in their shells
      • Pinecones, ribbon candy or candy canes
      • Shiny tree balls or other small ornaments
    • Gently fill a glass or crystal bowl or vase with a string of battery-operated mini lights. Disguise or hide the battery case as much as possible.
    • Wrap throw pillows with recycled ribbons so they look like gifts. Set them on the top of a couch or on a comfortable chair.
    • Decorate a silk plant or indoor plant with indoor mini lights. This can take the place of a decorated Christmas tree. 
    • Place a few pieces of cedar, pine or spruce trimmings on a mantle instead of a garland. Tuck bright tree balls or favourite family ornaments into the greenery. 
    • Spray a mixture of pinecones and unshelled nuts with gold paint and use them to fill a glass serving bowl. 
    • Using a pretty ribbon or lightweight fishing line, hang pretty tree ornaments at varying heights from a dining room light fixture. 
    • Spell out festive words like Noel or Peace on a fireplace mantle using children’s building blocks.
    • Fill a toy truck with festive candies or nuts.
    • Hang a Christmas stocking from a doorknob using a bit of Christmas ribbon.
    • Make your own Christmas decorations such as salt dough ornaments (See below.), popcorn garland, wine cork reindeer, clothes pin wreathes, or dried citrus wreaths. Look through magazines or online for more ideas and directions.
  • Table Scaping Ideas

    An inviting table puts your family and friends in a festive mood. Here are simple ways to decorate, and you might already have some of the items at home. 

    • Long pieces of wide Christmas ribbon are great as table runners on a solid-coloured tablecloth. You can either drape them over the length of the table or have them go across, so they disappear under the dinner plates.  
    • Tie simple bows of Christmas ribbon around napkins and the stems of wine or water glasses. 
    • For a special centerpiece, spray a few old ornaments with gold paint and set them on top of pinecones in a pretty, shallow bowl or tray. 
    • Wrap bunches of cinnamon sticks with Christmas ribbon and press whole cloves into several oranges. Arrange them all in a shallow basket, tucking in a few pine or cedar trimmings to add a green touch.  
    • Place small, festive candles at each place setting. 
  • A Holiday Swag

    Not round like a wreath or ribbon-like as a garland, a Christmas swag is a decoration built from evergreen branches and is perfect for hanging on your front door. 

    Here’s how we make ours: 

    • Gather up the branches trimmed from your Christmas tree or backyard tree or check out your local hardware store or garden centre.   
    • Start the swag with the longest ones at the back. Layer shorter branches and pieces on top, keeping the cut ends together and facing the same way. Save the shortest pieces for the top, turning some of them upside-down, if desired, to hide the cut ends.  
    • Tie all the branches together using wire, pipe cleaners or heavy string. Add a hanger on the back. 
    • Fill in bare spots and make it more festive by using wire or a glue gun to attach holly, eucalyptus, pinecones or small ornaments. 
    • Give the swag a finished look by tying on a large bow using Christmas ribbon; this is also a great way to cover the wire. 
    • Hang the swag on a door or from a railing. Use zip ties or velcro ties, if needed. 
  • Gift Wrap

    Reusing gift bags year after year is a great way to be eco-friendly. But that’s not the only way to wrap gifts. Here are some of our favourite – and inexpensive – ways to wrap it all up.  

    • Those weekend comics aren’t good just for a laugh; use them as inexpensive gift wrap.  
    • Use brown paper or tissue paper for a casual look, adding just a band of Christmas paper around the middle –as wide as you’d like. Tie with raffia or thin twine and make a simple bow. 
    • Adults and children can do art or ink stamping on paper before or after the gift is wrapped. 
    • Trace cookie cutters onto plain paper, colour or paint the images, or add stickers to decorate the packages. 
    • Tie presents with recycled Christmas ribbon or yarn leftover from a project. 
    • Find gold or silver thread at fabric outlets and use it to tie on gift tags or in place of ribbons on small gifts. 
    • Use pieces of Christmas fabric as wrapping; watch for fabric sales before and after the season. Trim the rough edges with pinking shears to prevent the fabric from coming apart and gather the fabric around the gift. Tie with a sturdy twine or ribbon and add a tag. Or use the fabric in the same way as wrapping paper with tape and ribbon to keep it together. These fabric wraps can be carefully folded and reused for years to come. 
  • Tags and Cards

    Check hobby stores or dollar stores for inexpensive craft supplies. 

    • Cut photographs and glue onto small cards for personalized gift tags.  
    • Cookie cutters or gently used unbreakable Christmas ornaments can double as gift tags. Write on them with permanent markers. 
    • Fold pieces of card stock in half to card or gift tag sizes. Glue on simple cut-out shapes like snowflakes, Christmas trees or ornaments and decorate with glitter, buttons or anything else you have in your craft supply. Punch a hole to use as a gift tag or purchase envelopes for cards to go in. 
  • A Buy-Nothing Christmas

    Everyone loves to give gifts for the holidays but giving doesn’t have to mean spending large amounts of money.  Every year, toys, clothes and perfectly fine household items end up in the landfill long before they run out of life.  While it might seem less generous to skip out on buying gifts, there are plenty of fantastic ways you can still give around Christmas time in an eco-friendly way.  Thinking of trying a buy-nothing Christmas? Consider one or some of these alternatives to shopping. 

    • A group or family donation to a charity in lieu of gifts. 
    • Donate to a charity in the name of the gift recipients; choose a charity related to their interests. 
    • Do a family gift exchange encouraging home-made gifts instead of buying them. Remember that each person has different strengths, and the gifts may vary more in value. 
    • Sing songs and play games in place of a gift exchange. 
    • Make gifts from the heart such as cookies, chocolates or crafts. If the kitchen is your happy place, put together some of our Gifts from the Kitchen.  
    • Give a card or note with a gift of time such as childcare, grocery shopping, cooking, snow removal, house cleaning, helping to get to appointments or just to go for an outing. 
    • Regifting is in vogue, so give an unused or lightly used item a new home. Think about books, lightly used children's clothing, ornaments or toys that still work. 
    • Many communities are now part of a world-wide buy-nothing project. The goal of this is to give items that you no longer need to people in your community to avoid taking things to the landfill. What’s no longer useful to one person can be another person's treasure and just might make the perfect Christmas gift for them to give to a friend or family member.   

Homemade Ornament and Gifts

  • Easy
    Crystalized Ornaments

    Making homemade ornaments is a great family activity. One of our favorites is making crystals.  With just a few simple ingredients, get the shine and sparkle of the season – no glitter required! 

  • Easy
    Spiced Sugar Cookies

    Get out your favourite cookie cutters - we have added some holiday spices to this popular cookie! This recipe makes a large batch of cookies so you can use some to make tree ornaments or to give as gifts from the kitchen.   

  • Easy
    Salt Dough Ornaments

    With just 3 simple ingredients, this dough makes the best homemade hanging ornaments and can be a fun activity for the whole family.