In part 1 of keeping the magic, and upping the sustainability we looked at decorations, trees and cards.
Now we’re looking a presents, wrapping and food.
It’s so tempting, especially if you have kiddies, to get them everything that you can. All the shiny plasticy, stuff they’ve seen on TV… but in all honestly, does much of it really get played with far after the day?
There is a… guideline for gift buying that states that 4 is the magic number
Something they want
Something they need
Something to wear
Something to read.
But there are so many options of alternative gifts that don’t have to cost much in terms of money or the planet.
There are so many brilliant experience gifts that can be given for young and old from;
Tree top adventures
Tickets to a local theme park or attraction
National trust membership
There really are so many. One set of grandparents always buys a terms worth of swimming lessons for our girls, and our lovely neighbours got them season tickets to a local attraction that they love.
With a bit of searching around you can often find some really good deals as well.
Handmade gifts are always a treat. Again one of my girls favourite things from
last Christmas was a handmade wand, and of the ‘stuff’ they received last year they have certainly been played with the most (I’ve been turned into a cat, and a frog a lot this year!)
Homemade gifts of, Jam, chutney, cake, a scarf, photo book, anything you can think of are lovely and original gifts.
More sustainable purchases
There are more sustainable gifts you can buy too, such as;
plant a tree, an increasing number of organisations now offer this service including the Woodland trust and the National forest.
If you want to give physical gifts try and support local businesses, your local high street or craft fairs/markets. Putting money into the local economy and cutting out miles traveled for you gifts are two great steps you can take. Also you’re able to cut out the plastic packaging from the equation too.
Wrapping your presents
The majority of wrapping paper cannot be recycled. And that’s some perfectly good trees going straight in the bin.
Here’s how to know if you can recycle it or not.
If it has glitter on – not
If you scrunch the paper into a ball, if it stays in a ball you can probably recycle it. If it unfolds itself it cannot be recycled.
It’s estimated that in the UK alone we use 227,000 miles of wrapping paper each year. Insane.
If you want to use paper please make sure it can be recycled.
Many people are now opting for brown parcel paper to wrap presents, which can be recycled. If you want to decorate it though please don’t use glitter or paint as these then make the paper un-recyclable.
Cello tape is also plastic and added to paper makes it un-recyclable. Consider using paper tape, or securing parcels with string. You can also decorate with dried fruit or foliage to add some extra Christmas magic.
I have also known people to use old newspapers, or magazines to wrap presents and both look surprisingly good.
Wrapping your presents in cloth is another option. In Japan its called Furoshiki where they have done this for hundreds of years. Its a simple method to do and looks lovely. You can buy specific wrap, but any off cuts of material or even scarves work well and become part of the gift, or can be used over and over for wrapping.
We waste a lot of food anyway throughout the year. And at Christmas that tends to get worse.
So the first step is to think really carefully about the food that you buy at Christmas and what you can go without, without it being a big deal.
We always used to have a Christmas cake for example, but stopped about 12 years ago because no-one ever really ate it. It was just a tradition that was being kept for no reason.
A great way to tackle this is to make a list of the meals you’re going to have over Christmas, and any extra snacks, and make a shopping list and stick to it. Don’t be tempted by special offers or buying double just in case.
Buy Local and Seasonal
If you can use local farm shops and butchers, you’re food will have fewer miles and you’ll be supporting local small businesses too.
Opt for seasonal fruit and veg when you can. When you think of the ‘Traditional Christmas dinner’ many of the veg that features is there for that reason, such as;
There is no easier way to lower your carbon footprint than to have a plant based diet. So could you have a plant based Christmas lunch?
In the last few years there has been a real surge in vegan cookery and there are loads of recopies, cookbooks, vlogs and websites now dedicated to all things vegan cooking
Love your left overs
There are loads of things you can do with leftovers that mean you’re not such with Turkey curry and endless sandwiches. My fav is Turkey and Ham pie. So have a look for some recipe ideas ahead of time so you’re ready when the time comes.
Don’t use disposable cutlery and tableware
Yes this might mean a bit more washing up, but that in our house is often the cause for much hilarity, bubble fights and tea towel wars are happy (and slightly pain- filled!) memories from my youth. It also saves you loads of money on buying single use items.
Linen serviettes are also a really lovely and elegant touch and they can be Christmassed up with some added greenery, and then used every day or on special occasions there after.
Christmas crackers are a Christmas dinner staple right? But in reality what happens most of the time is we wear the hat for two and a half minutes, the jokes get groaned at and the ‘gift’ inside probably goes straight in the bin.
This year a few companies such as Dunelm have brought out plastic free crackers, which is definitely a step in the right direction.
I have also seen quite a few suggestions on how to make your own crackers, and online you can find kits to help you, or you can make them yourself from scratch, again there are lots of ideas and guides online.
This year I think we’re going to be opting for more of a party favour approach. Each place setting will have a hand written note saying something lovely about that person, plus a cracker worthy joke. And a little gift.
Hopefully this has given you some ideas on how you can make your Christmas a little more sustainably without losing any of that special Christmas magic.
We’d love to hear if you have any other tips.
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