1. Prepare and plan
  2. Reuse what you already have
  3. Give experiences or time instead of stuff
  4. Buy second-hand
  5. Make it yourself
  6. Buy local


Wrapping paper

Homemade: Use items you may have lying around such as: newspaper, paper bags, out of date maps, old calendars, children's art, wallpaper samples.

Gift Bags: Reuse any of these you have in a drawer and encourage the recipient to do the same.

Present: Wrap it with another present such as a tea towel, scarf, apron or pillow case. [more]

Furoshiki: The Japanese way of wrapping presents in cloth squares. Make your own [here] or [here], learn the different ways to wrap them [here] or buy some [here]. Traditionally the giver presents the receiver with the gift, unveils it then keeps the cloth for the next use.

Cloth: There are a number of reusable cloth wrapping solutions which you can buy [here] or [here]. Follow the Furoshiki tradition and take the wrapping back once the present has been opened.

Christmas Sack: These are beautiful, personalised and could be filled with unwrapped presents. We have one each in my family. [buy]

Paper: If you want to use paper then avoid foil or glitter as that prevents recycling. Kraft paper is an option or search for a paper made from recycled material. [buy]


Alternatives to new gifts

Experiences: Give something like a spa day, theatre trip, membership or day out.

Time: Why not give your time instead of a present. How about a voucher to help the recipient with a project on their house or a nights babysitting.

Vouchers: An unwanted present isn't good for either person involved so this can be a good option to avoid that.

Encourage Others: If you want to take your family on this journey then talk to them about it but don't expect to be able to do it all the first year. [more]

Second-hand: There are loads of options now with groups on Facebook, ebay etc. Also consider antiques or vintage items.

Re-gift: If you were given it and don’t want it then pass it on. There should be no shame in this, someone can then enjoy it. Or use the gift receipt.


New Gifts

Zero Waste: Buy people gifts that can help them on their journey to being zero waste. [buy]

Secret Santa: As a group pull one name from a hat and only buy for them (spend more on them but less than if you had to buy for everyone). My family are trying it out this year.

Long Lasting: Buy presents that will last, not cheaply made or novelty items that will be discarded or break after one or two uses.

Batteries: Plan to buy battery free gifts or get rechargable batteries if this isn't an option.

Locally Made: Lower carbon footprint and supporting your local businesses.

Practical: To guide you towards practical gifting why not try a gift that is something to: read/do/eat/wear/play with.


Tape/Ribbon/Tags etc

Paper Tape: Tape can be made of paper too. [buy] or [buy] *Washi tape is on a plastic roll

String: Consider what will happen to it afterwards. I like to use a natural unbleached twine. You can also try recycled twine. [buy]

Ribbon: Consider what will happen to it after its present adventure. Seek out silk ribbons that have been naturally dyed. If it has to be plastic then why not try one made from recycled plastic and make sure its reused? [buy] 

Bows: How about switching to homemade pom poms instead? [more]

Tags: Reuse old Christmas cards for tags.

Stamps: Use rubber stamps instead of stickers.


Christmas Trees

Plastic: If you already have one then use it or buy one second hand. These trees will last many years if you look after them. No waste or carbon footprint.

Real (potted): The best option for a real tree is one you have in a pot. After Christmas either plant it or keep it in the pot and make sure it gets watered and bring it back inside each year.

Real (cut): If buying a real tree find the place closest to you. I carried mine home last year. Check your council website as they will often collect trees for recycling after Christmas.

Alternative: Make your own 3D or 2D tree out of materials like wood, cardboard or cloth. Or even stack up books etc. Look for ideas [here].



Plastic: If you already own decorations then reuse them or donate them to a local school or community group.

Second-hand: If you want to change up your decoration game then look for ones you can give a new home to.

Homemade: One way to get exactly what you want AND reduce waste is to make your own. Some ideas for traditional decorations [here].

Table: Use fabric instead of disposable or plastic napkins/tablecloth.

Crackers: Boycott them altogether or buy reusable crackers and add your own gifts inside. [buy]

Tree: If you want to buy new tree decorations then buy wood, metal or glass ornaments that will last.

Lights: Buy LED ones and take care packing them away for next year.



Connect: Try phoning or arranging visits with those on your list instead of sending them cards. I do this one. For those you cannot reach then email or text them.

Charity: Donate the money you would have spent on cards and connect with the people instead.

Family video: Record a short message and send it round on email instead of a card. Lots of opportunities to be unique here.

e-card: A good alternative for a zero waste card that is a virtual version of the real thing.

Christmas Book: Within your family you could start a book that you all write Christmas messages to each other in each year.

Homemade: Making your own cards can be nicer, cheaper and avoid plastic wrapping and unrecyclable cards.

Postcards: Avoids the envelope and uses less actual card.

Recyclable: If you are planning on buying cards then look for ones made from recycled materials, with eco-friendly inks and 100% recyclable.

Receiving: You will likely still receive cards and you can find some ideas on what to do with them [here] and [here].


Food Waste

Plan: Make a meal plan and shopping list for the festive period [more].

Leftovers: When you plan your main meal for Christmas day then include planning what to do with these e.g Curry or risotto. [more]

Freezer:  Eat items to clear space for leftovers in the run up to Christmas. Then use the space to store any leftovers you cannot eat straight away.

Tupperware: Ask people who are coming to eat to bring containers for them to take leftovers and make sure you have enough of your own to cope.

People: Let people plate up their own food and buy food everyone likes, maybe skip the sprouts this year?

Compost: If you don't have this collected then you can freeze it and take it to a specialist facility when you have a load.

Birds: Consider what scraps could be fed to the birds and help them when its freezing outside.

Vegetarian: Consider low or no meat options.


Food packaging

Independant shops: Buy your meat and vegetables from your local butchers or greengrocers. Consider local bakeries for bread and sweet items.

Choose: Decide to buy items that don't come in plastic packaging.

Homemade: Make your own, especially items for a sweet tooth. Mince pies for example.


*** Waste over Christmas is a HUGE subject so drop me an email if you have any questions***