- From baking edible gifts to having ornament swaps with friends, we have plenty of ideas on how you can make this festive season a sustainable one.
Who doesn’t love a lit-up Christmas tree, stockings full of gifts, and Christmas cake? There is of course a flipside – the immense environmental cost. When everybody starts celebrating all festivals, there is that much more pressure on the environment. That made me think, how can I make Christmas fun for my family, and yet not ask too much from Mother Earth?
Here’s what we came up with:
Go truly green with your tree
Instead of getting an artificial plastic tree, why not go for the real thing? Simply get a potted fir tree from a nursery in your neighbourhood, and decorate it. Once you take the ornaments off, it makes for a great balcony plant and when it gets too big for the pot, it can be planted in the ground!
If a potted plant sounds like a lot of work, you can make a 2D Christmas tree! Cut a tree shape out of cardboard or green felt, and fix it on your wall. Make ornaments out of coloured paper and stick them on the tree. This doubles up as a fun Christmas activity for the little ones!
You can also opt for a beautiful fabric Christmas tree like the one pictured below, which, while not life-sized, is 100 percent upcycled and handmade. And once Christmas is over, you can even continue to use it as a decorative piece to brighten up your home.
Have fun with sustainable ornaments
The most sustainable things are the ones you already own! So bring out the birthday and Diwali decorations, make simple paper chains and paper crafts to decorate your tree. Sometimes, of course, we get bored of using the same old stored-up ornaments. Here’s a brilliant idea to get over that – an ornament swap! Swap decorations and ornaments with like-minded neighbours and friends every year, so you have something new adorning your tree each time.
Another fun family activity is to make your own salt-dough ornaments.
Here’s the recipe:
Ingredients: 2 cups all purpose flour, 1 cup salt, 1 cup cold water
Method: Mix ingredients to form a smooth dough. Knead for about 10 minutes. Cut out shapes like stars, circles and snowmen using a cookie cutter. Poke a small hole at the top to thread a string for later. Bake for two hours in an oven pre-heated to 120 degrees Celsius. Once the dough hardens, paint using acrylic colours and let dry. If you want the ornaments to last for the next few Christmases, coat them with ModPodge or varnish.
Bake a green storm
Instead of buying packaged cake and cookies, bake your own. Not only will you get a bunch of healthy goodies, you will also have a house smelling like Christmas! Packed in reusable jars, or simply wrapped in brown paper, these make a great Christmas gift too. Alternatively, shop local and pick up your goodies in your own containers.
Stuff the stocking, but be mindful
The joy of Christmas is not so much in what the gift is, but in sitting together as a family and opening the gifts. Replace novelty gifts, single-use toys and such with essentials like T-shirts, socks, pencils, pens, books, or even home-made cookies and snacks! For grown-ups, consider a pre-loved gift, or have a pre-loved gift-swap instead of Secret Santa.
Make a fun-themed crib
As kids, we brought out our Barbie dolls, dressed them up with robes and fake beards and got them to recreate the Nativity scene. It was a fun way to use what we already had, and create something all on our own. Bring out the kids’ Lego blocks, peg dolls, farm animals and even dinosaurs, and make a themed crib.
Yashodhara is a new mommy, IT professional and cat lover who lives in Mumbai. When not running after her toddler, she’s trying her best to read, write and catch a few extra winks.