The holiday season can be downright magical — but it can also be pretty darn wasteful. Despite the fact that 81% of global consumers feel strongly that companies should protect the environment, many of us forsake sustainability for tradition during this time of year.
The reality is, though, that you don’t necessarily have to choose between the two. There are plenty of ways to deck your halls in a way that doesn’t hurt the planet. Here are just a few ideas to provide you with some holiday decor inspiration that’s a little bit greener.
Collect Your Own Greenery
American homeowners (who move every five to seven years, on average) really love their green space. Being surrounded by natural elements will come in handy when you want to decorate your home this year. Take yourself on a little nature walk to gather up some greenery. Branches, berries, pinecones, and other natural materials can easily be turned into garlands, wreaths, centerpieces, swags, and other decor elements. You might pay a pretty penny for imitation versions at the store that are made from plastic, but you can make use of what you already have in your own backyard and save money. Best of all, you can probably compost them after the holidays are over!
Consider a Real Christmas Tree
There’s a lot of debate when it comes to real vs. fake trees. Although it might seem rather wasteful to get a real Christmas tree every year, there’s actually a good argument for this option. Although fake trees can last for years and reduce waste on an annual basis, most artificial trees are made in factories that require the use of raw materials and potentially harmful chemicals before they’re transported long distances. Artificial trees don’t decompose once they’re thrown into landfills, either. Real trees are usually grown locally and on area farms and are carbon-neutral. New trees are planted every year and real trees can also be made into compost. You can even “rent” a Christmas tree in some areas, which allows the farm to actually reuse Christmas trees from year to year. As long as you’re being thoughtful about where your tree goes after the fact, this is a surprisingly sustainable tradition you can keep.
Use LED Lights
When it comes to decorating the tree, ornaments get a lot of the glory — but it’s the lights that keep everything together. Of course, you may be using more electricity during this time of year anyway, given that there are fewer daylight hours available. Instead of relying on incandescent lights, consider switching to LEDs this year. They tend to last longer, will use less electricity, and will emit less heat. When you aren’t celebrating, however, you should unplug the festive lights. Since appliances use electricity even they’re switched off (with a desktop computer using around 80 watts even when it isn’t in use), you can save even more energy by unplugging completely.
DIY, Thrift, or Get Hand-Me-Downs
If your mantle or tree are looking a bit sparse, don’t be so quick to run out to the store for new stockings and ornaments. You can probably DIY some homemade alternatives that will be a lot more meaningful. For stockings, you can use an old sweater to make your own. There are also a number of DIY ornament tutorials that use items like scrap ribbon, sticks, salt dough, recycled paper, or dried citrus to create beautiful baubles. And if you aren’t much of a craft queen, don’t fret. You can probably ask your relatives for some hand-me-downs they aren’t using, especially if their decor style has changed or they have pieces from their own parents hanging around the attic. If all else fails, head to a local thrift store in your area. You may be able to score a bargain and support your local community, all while keeping unwanted items out of landfills.
Because this time of year has become so commercialized, it’s easy to fall into the trap of believing you need all new decor for the holiday season. But if you make use of what you already have and employ a little bit of creativity, you can make your home look perfectly festive while saving money and the environment.
Do you remember what Christmas was like when you were a child?
Sure, as an adult, the winter holidays can be filled with all kinds of stress. You have to worry about family, hosting a big dinner, making sure that all of the presents are under the tree… It’s crazy!
But if you’re a child, it can be pure magic. Santa Claus and snow and reindeer and stockings! They get to be around all of their favorite people for days and be showered with nothing but love and attention. It’s little wonder why kids love Christmas.
And if you really want to build up the Christmas spirit in them, you can work in some fantastic children’s books about Christmas into the evening bedtime story rotation! Here are some of my favorites that I highly recommend you share with them:
Before it was a Tom Hanks movie, The Polar Express was one of the most beloved Christmas books ever written. If you’ve only seen the film, then you should definitely check out the original it’s based on.
On Christmas Eve, a little boy boards a mysterious train bound for the North Pole. Once there, he meets Santa himself, who gives him any gift he desires. His choice isn’t what you might expect and leads to a magical tale filled with beautiful images.
In Arial the Secret Santa, children will follow Arial the unicorn through school, in her community and in nature as she models how easy it can be to share kindness. From giving a compliment to smiling at someone who’s having a bad day, Arial shows children that, no matter how small, words and act of kindness MATTER, especially at Christmas! Included in the book is the Kindness Tree Activity to help encourage your child to give praise and spread positivity into the world.
I love Christmas. It’s a time of peace and kindness. And kindness and compassion are the traits I most want to instill in our kids.
If you’re looking for a book this Christmas to help teach your kids about the power of kindness, then this is the book to have under the tree. I highly recommend this book!
If you would like a moment of calm this Christmas (and a brilliant night’s sleep, shh…) then Festive Flamingo is the book for you!
Flamingo shares a festive selection of breathing exercises and relaxing visualizations. She joins you for twelve magical meditations, where you explore positive themes such as perseverance, curiosity and self-belief. Build a magical camel out of snow, learn to ice-skate with the woodland animals and create an exciting game for the elves.
Enjoy the benefits of meditation, alongside adventure and festive fun!
I mean, do you really need a summary of How the Grinch Stole Christmas? It’s one of the most celebrated children’s books of all-time, let alone one of the all-time great Christmas books! It’s also a brilliant cartoon, two big-budget movies, and the basis of countless toys. And you know what? It deserves every single bit of praise it gets.
The Grinch that Stole Christmas perfectly communicates the meaning of Christmas and is filled with stunning art, hilarious rhymes, and some truly funny jokes. It’s a true classic that should be on every child’s bookshelf. If you’ve never encountered it before, you owe it to yourself to give it a read (even if you’re an adult)!
Do you remember the story of Rudolph the Rednosed Reindeer? Everyone told him that he couldn’t be a member of Santa’s reindeer team. Well, here is a children’s book that reflects that story, putting a whole new spin on the idea of following your dreams!
Little Squirrel Squish is a tiny squirrel who wants to be part of Santa’s flying crew. But because he’s so small (and because he’s not a reindeer), everyone keeps telling him to forget about his dreams. But one Christmas, he decides to go for it, changing everything! This book will teach your children that their every dream, no matter how seemingly out of reach, is worth exploring!
Getting back to Santa’s reindeer, let’s talk about Santa’s Reindeer, the book!
Discovering that everyone is different is one of the most important lessons a child can be taught. In this adorable Christmas book, all of the various personalities of Santa’s reindeer are explored. It’s a perfect read for small children, full of cute illustrations and a lovely Christmas message!
If you think it’s only Santa who does good deeds on Christmas Eve, you need to meet a very special mouse!
Spinning off from the “Not a creature was stirring…” line from Twas the Night Before Christmas, this wonderful book features a mouse who is busy all Christmas night doing small acts of kindness, such a cooling the cocoa for Sanata, hanging up the mistletoe, and taste testing the cookies! It’s a fabulous lesson for kids who are looking to drive the meaning of Christmas home: that you’re never too little to make a big difference!
Countless children learn how to read their first words while sitting on their parents’ laps. And if you want a book that will help them sound out letters while also embracing the Christmas spirit, then this is it!
In it, Jingles the elf doesn’t know how to read yet, but needs to figure out Santa’s Christmas list. With the help of your child, they read the list together and make sure that Christmas is a huge success!
One of the reasons why I love Secret Santas so much is that it makes giving anonymous. You aren’t giving someone something with the expectation of a “thank you” from them. Instead, their enjoyment is its own reward.
In this wonderful Christmas book, your kids will learn about Secret Santas and why it can be such a wonderful Christmas tradition. Beautiful art and a wonderful message make this a Christmas must!
Who doesn’t love Christmas cookies? But have you ever noticed that there tends to be one seemingly plain oatmeal cookie left on the plate after all the other cookies are eaten? Well, this is HIS story!
Meet Phil, an insecure fruit-filled oatmeal cookie who longs to be more fancy and famous. With help from his cookie friends, he learns what’s on the inside is more important than fancy sprinkles. Self-love and acceptance are essential qualities for kids to learn, and this rhyming Christmas tale teaches them that character and self-confidence really do matter.
Have you kids ever wanted to catch an elf? It turns out that it’s trickier than you might think…
In this fun and silly story, a clever elf manages to elude all of the traps that children set for him on Christmas Eve! There are lots of fun rhymes and some inventive illustrations that your kids are sure to love!
If you’re looking for a Christmas story with a twist, this might be the book for you and your kid!
Instead of it being Christmas in the book, it’s about a birthday wish gone wrong. A little girl (who has a unicorn) sends a letter to Santa to ask if she can borrow one of his reindeer during their “off-season.” He sends one with a note saying that the reindeer should never meet any unicorns. It turns out that unicorns and reindeer get highly competitive around each other, so the little girl soon has a mess on her hands! This is a funny and delightful book that can even be read when it isn’t Christmas!
Everyone loves a secret agent story, especially kids.
If you want your kids to take lessons of kindness and caring into the real world, this book might be the perfect way to do it. It not only tells a Christmas story about three of Santa’s helpers doing missions of good deeds before Christmas but gives your children some missions of their own!
For example, their Christmas mission might be to give an extra hug to someone they love that day. Or to leave a “thank you” note for the mailman. With these Christmas missions, your kids will be brightening up someone else’s Christmas, a wonderful lesson to learn!
If you worry that presents, tinsel, and trees are distorting the true meaning of Christmas, then this might just be the book for you and your child.
In it, a Mama Bear and her cub explore what Christmas truly means, from what Santa truly represents (the spirit of giving) to the birth of Jesus. It’s filled with beautiful art and a wonderful Christian message.
Have you ever read any books from the Construction Site series? If not, this might be the perfect place to introduce you and your children to some fun and entertaining characters!
In this Christmas tale, all of the vehicles of the construction site get together to build a new home for the fire engines and, after they finish that important job, find Christmas surprises of their very own! A lovely message and some adorable art make for a great Christmas book!
What are some of your favorite Christmas children’s books? Please share them in the comments below!
One of our December must do activities is making gingerbread houses as a family. A few years ago, we kicked it up a notch and decided to make a simple healthier gingerbread (graham cracker) cottage – you can find the how-to tutorial here. And another year I stuck with my healthier cottage theme and the mister and Eben decided to try their hand at a pretzel log cabin. All of our ingredients were organic & free from toxic chemicals too.
I think they turned out to be pretty cute! The log cabin is definitely my favorite – I love the way the mister and Eben used coconut to make snow on the rooftop and Eben created the fun, festive wreath above the front door! This is an activity that takes all evening to complete, but it is always worth it. We had a blast listening to holiday music, sipping cocoa and giggling when things didn’t turn out!
Do you have special holiday traditions that you enjoy with your family in December? I would love to hear – please share in the comments section below.