While you’re decking the halls and celebrating with friends and family this year, there are many ways you can also make it a green Christmas. Perhaps you’ll use recycled wrapping paper? Maybe you’ll string the tree with LED Christmas lights? Or fill everyone’s stockings with sustainable Christmas gifts? With a focus on “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle”, these eco-friendly ideas can also save you money, as well as start delightful new family traditions.

Make Your Own Wrapping Paper

Have a green Christmas by using recycled wrapping paper or making your own.‍

Start the craft activities before Christmas and get them to make their own wrapping paper. If your family still reads the Sunday papers, resist the urge to put them in the recycling bin because they’re going to be given a new, festive life. 

First, you’ll need to make some potato stamps; one in the shape of a star and the other shaped like a Christmas tree. Cut a potato in half, longways, and pat dry with kitchen towel. Then use a cookie cutter pressed into the potato as a guide or carve the shape out freehand with a craft knife, before cutting out the surrounding potato to leave the raised shape. This is best done by an adult or with adult supervision. 

For young kids, put some red and green acrylic paints onto plates and have the kids dip the potato star stamp into the red paint and the potato tree stamp into the green paint, then they can enjoy printing the shapes onto sheets of newspaper. If they are older or more skilled, they might prefer to use their finger or a paintbrush to add the colour to the stamp for a more even effect. 

Once they’ve finished their patterns, lay the sheets in the sun to dry. It makes for a surprisingly effective and green way to present Christmas gifts to family, especially when tied with some paper twine.  

No newspaper? Recycled butcher’s paper works well, as do recycled kraft paper bags. The kids could also paint designs freehand onto them. And if they do a good job, you might even like to store their handcrafted wrapping paper away for reuse next year.  

What to Try

Another alternative to throwing that wrapping paper away is to keep it and store it in a plastic crate for reuse next year. Gift bags hold up even better to multiple uses. Or there are many weeks of summer holidays to follow December 25. Reuse shiny, textured gift wrap to level up kids’ craft projects, such as making collages or fashioning clothes for toys.

SEE ALSO: Inspiring DIY Christmas Cards and Wrapping Paper Ideas

Buy Sustainable Christmas Gifts

Have a green Christmas by looking for gifts made from sustainable materials. You could consider buying the kids wooden toys. Why? Wooden toys are made from fewer materials, so they’re easier to separate for recycling once your child outgrows them, or you could pass them on to friends and family or donate them to charity shops to prolong their life cycle. Plus, often there are no batteries to forget to buy, and they have the educational benefit of encouraging activity and imagination. The Kadink and Studymate brand of wooden toys are FSC certified, so you can be sure they are made from wood that has been sourced responsibly.

Other sustainable Christmas gifts for kids include books, which they’ll read time and again before passing down to another lucky kid, or eco-friendly art supplies, such as pencils, markers and pads of paper, which they can continue to use all year round to develop their creativity.

What to Try

Look After and DIY Christmas Decorations 

To preserve your existing Christmas decorations, wrap them in protective packaging before putting them away in storage. If you’ve got baubles with scratches, metallic Posca pens might be perfect for filling in missing bits of colour (the same goes for tree toppers and other ornaments). If they’re looking a bit bedraggled, try to fix them with some strong glue to give them a new lease on life and save throwing broken or worn decorations into landfill.

Get the kids involved with easy-to-make DIY Christmas decorations, such as homemade ornaments of paper people adorned with coloured sand, or get them to decorate wooden bunting that you can pull out year after year.

What to Try

SEE ALSO: Easy Christmas Crafts to Makeover Your Home

Create Less Party Waste

The most environmentally friendly plates are the ones you wash up and put back in the cupboard, but if you’re outdoors and have a lot of people around for lunch or dinner, stock up on disposable plates and cutlery that aren’t plastic. 

Plates, bowls and cups made from sugarcane can either be put in your home compost or the green bin. The same goes for wooden cutlery. If you need straws, choose paper ones that can be recycled.

You might also like to consider products that support the community, stocking the bathroom with a socially responsible, vegan-friendly handwash, like this one made by Thankyou, and FSC-certified paper hand towels made by an Indigenous business.

Have a sustainable Christmas by using recycled and community-friendly goods.

What to Try

Trade in Your Old Tech

We often receive new smartphones, tablets and other electronic equipment for Christmas. So if you have old devices that have been replaced, consider trading them in for an instant Officeworks gift card. With just a few questions, you can assess the value of your old phone, tablet, laptop or smart watch, then receive a digital gift card for the agreed value to spend on whatever you like, in store at Officeworks. It’s like a bonus present that comes with your Christmas tech gift! Find out more at the Officeworks Trade-in page.

Disposing of old tech products thoughtfully could give them a second life and help prevent these devices becoming landfill. It also helps protect the environment from mining by recycling the precious metals used in tech production.

If your device is no longer holds any value, save it for e-waste recycling. Officeworks’ Bring It Back program helps with the disposal of electronic waste, including phone accessories and cables and chargers, as well as old pens and markers. 

Just remember to delete any personal data from anything you trade in or bring in to be recycled.

SEE ALSO: What Do I Do With…?

Avoid Food Waste 

As well as a tendency to overindulge at Christmas, research reports that nine in 10 Australians say they usually discard more than a quarter of the food they buy during the holidays. So how do you reduce food waste for a green Christmas and save yourself some money?

It helps to plan. Start with a head count of how many people you’ll be catering for, set a menu, then be generous but sensible when buying ingredients. Making a plan for the food shopping gives you a chance to look around for items on sale and fresh food that is in season, as well as avoiding impulse buys that everyone might be too full to enjoy.

On the day, refrigerate any uneaten food soon after lunch or dinner to avoid it spoiling in the summer heat. You can also freeze leftovers if you think there is too much to consume in the following days. Or hand out one last practical present, reusable containers, so your guests can take their share of the leftover bounty.

Buy a Living Christmas Tree

Use a living Christmas tree in a pot that you can reuse every year for a green Christmas.

Plastic Christmas trees can last a few years, but once they need replacing, they go straight into landfill. The most environmentally friendly type of Christmas tree is one in a pot that you can bring inside and decorate for the weeks leading up to Christmas, then put back outside again. 

A conifer is perfect, of course, but it’s possible to decorate any type of small shrub or bush. You can even string lights on a good-sized parlour palm if that’s what you have.Consider decorating with smart LED light strips which are long lasting and use less energy than ordinary bulbs and can be programmed to switch off when no-one is around. 

You could make your own paper Christmas tree, complete with DIY Christmas decorations such as colourful paper light bulbs. Christmas might be about tradition, but it doesn’t mean your family can’t start their own.

SEE ALSO: Easy Ways to Live Sustainably at Home, Work and School