Like everything in 2020 Christmas is set to look slightly different for everyone this year and, as the saying goes, out with the old and in with the new with our traditions and attitudes towards the festive season. We can use this opportunity to bring the family together through activities which can help to bring a piece of Christmas into everyone’s home.
Making sustainable swaps for Christmas ensures that the magic of the season does not disappear but instead we just think about where and how we source items and compromise on price (sometimes) for quality and longevity.
Being prepared earlier can help avoid last-minute panic buying of items which may only last for one year – themes change too often meaning people are encouraged to buy new every year to create something ‘different’ however this can still be achieved by preplanning.
Designing your own Christmas cards can be a great activity to bring some festive joy to a dark winters’ night. Regardless of your artistic ability whatever you create people will love the handmade element and thought behind the design. If you want to create a more personal design, why not incorporate a name or item which the person loves as this will also add that extra special touch. The recommended video uses mainly watercolours, however, this is interchangeable depending what you are comfortable with using, there are many tutorial videos specific to each medium whether that be pen or paint, so you can pick whichever you like best.
A nifty way to create cards without having to rely too heavily on artistic ability is to re-use old cards. This can be in whatever style you please e.g collage, cutting out words or pictures. This not only solves the problem of storing old cards but also means you don’t have to buy hardly any extra supplies.
If arts and crafts are really not your thing but you like the aesthetic of a handmade card then why not find someone who creates and sells Christmas cards in your local area, Etsy is a good place to start or even looking on local group pages online to see what people are advertising.
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There is no better feeling than having a little treat to open in the run-up to the big event but buying the same chocolate calendar every year can feel like the surprise novelty wears off after a while.
Perhaps you could organise a calendar swap with a friend. Each of you designs a reusable calendar which can be switched up every year, and then swap calendars so you not only get a total surprise every day, but you could also add that personal touch and include all their favourite things.
The recommended video gives you a variety of ideas of what to fill your advent calendar with from Christmas activities to positive quotes or goals for the day, the idea of opening something you can work on or action for the day and not be limited to chocolate, is not only unique but also gives you that extra little bit of motivation when you wake up on a cold December morning!
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The recommended video contains ways to create your own sweet treats for Christmas, which can also be turned into another activity if there is a group of you making them. You can also add a spin to your Christmas dinner if you want to go all the way, however as everyone’s variations of Christmas dinner will be different you can make that decision accordingly.
When it comes to your produce think about where you sourced this from. You can choose local suppliers for meat and veg options, over supermarkets which doesn’t require too much pre-planning just a slight tweak to your shopping routine.
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Sourcing + Making Gifts
A great way to make use of empty candles jars is to create new candles or to fill them with Christmas sweets/chocolates to give to loved ones as a gift, so save them up throughout the year and you will have a head start on your gifts. There is a wholesome feeling when you repurpose something which otherwise would have been thrown away, not to mention the joy that comes with creating your own gifts.
The time and effort taken to create a present is more meaningful than buying something, with the receiver appreciating the effort put into creating a memorable gift. You also save money as you only pay for certain elements of the present, including decoration, which can be tailored around your style. Some examples of homemade gifts are making unique food/drink gifts, personalised items such as pictures or memorable places, names.
Secret Santa is great fun and can also save you some dollar if you have a large family or group of friends. This way ensures everyone is thought about equally especially if a budget is put in place. There are websites out there where you can create a list of items that people can choose from to buy you. This way the person is more likely to receive a present they actually want/need and will therefore get more use from it than say a heap of less personal gifts. May you want your present to be a donation to a charity instead of buying you a gift – add it to the list! The gift is knowing you have helped benefit someone’s life, and you may even receive updates.
If making all your gifts is not an option, as it can be quite a large task, buying gifts can still be sustainable. Using candles again as an example (as everyone loves the scent of Christmas in their home) if you purchased them from an independent business who put the time and care into their products, it means you are supporting a local retailer while purchasing something unique. One way you can gauge the quality of a candle is to check what ingredients are being used – independents tend to use organic locally sourced ingredients (soy wax).
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It is important to take the time to be present (no pun intended) during the festive period as it is easy to let the time fly by and before we know it January is here! So, cram in as many Christmassy activities with friends and family as humanly possible which will help give us all a well-needed boost after this shocker of a year.
Here are few ideas you could incorporate into an evening with friends/family, this is not an exhaustive list as everyone has their own traditions and favourite activities, they like to do but hopefully it will give you a few ideas to keep everyone’s spirits high
Christmas film night (weekly on a specific evening to give everyone something to regularly look forward to)
Christmas themed Games
Worksheets for the kids- could incorporate into the film by including related questions
Zoom Christmas themed quiz
Arrange Secret Santa between family/friends then follow up with an unwrapping evening
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There are many benefits to getting crafty at Christmas especially when it comes to the main attraction… the tree! Once the decorations have been made, they can be saved and re-used every year with maybe a few extra additions every year. This way although there may be a larger expense initially when buying supplies and materials the end product and longevity more than make up for this.
The recommended video shows the possibilities of using natural materials to create eye-catching Christmas decorations. The idea of using burlap to create ribbons is a good budget-friendly option which can be multifunctional as it can also be utilised for present wrapping. Drying out fruit in the oven such as oranges gives an iconic Christmas feel and smell to your house which is 100% natural. You may also want to revamp your old decorations by painting them which is a fun activity (add a date or name somewhere to add that personal touch).
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The recommended video contains so many creative ideas when it comes to decorations which are fully adaptable to fit your style and aesthetic of your home. This also applies to the recycling of old boxes/bags to use as gift bags. Don’t worry about the bags being in perfect condition as they will soon be ripped into to get to the resents! All you need to do is stick a simple Christmas design over any existing writing, and you could even add that extra personal touch by including a to and from sticker, which is for your benefit as much as theirs to help you remember whos is who’s is the bags look similar (and if your lick me you have the memory of a goldfish and can’t remember who had which design).
Brown wrapping paper is so on-trend at the moment which may be due to the simple aesthetics as well as its sustainable properties. It can be made even more Christmassy by adding a piece of string, ribbon or bow to tie the whole thing together. Whatever you add the trend is here to stay and we love it!
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Decorative Table pieces
When we think sustainable it doesn’t have to mean minimal. Thinking outside the box can have great results, for example buying plain biodegradable napkins can still be festive if you cut them into Christmas Trees or add a red ribbon.
Foliage can also be used in so many elements of your Christmas decorations, including how you decorate your table. Now depending on the size of the table you have to work with will depend on how much decoration you do, as you, of course, need room for the all-important Christmas feast. Little touches such as adding candles to the centre of your table with a wreath of foliage/holly wrapped around the base can create a lovely atmosphere for everyone. The foliage can be handpicked from the garden or sourced from a Christmas tree seller.
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From the outside in
When the nights start drawing in nothing says Christmas like seeing people’s houses lit up with an array of sparkling lights. Love or hate them there is no denying once the lights go up everyone is officially in Christmas mode. However, they are not always the kindest to our electric bill and being cheaply made consequently means more often than not you will need to replace at least some of them every year. An alternative option is to use LED lights which are more reliable and hardwearing.
Decorations don’t have to fill your whole house or even be outside at all to still be seen from the outside- think of ways you can jazz up your windows and doors as this will instantly create a Christmas vibe.
Making your own wreath is great fun and low cost if you use similar or left-over materials from other Christmas decorations. Items such as evergreen leaves, holly, dried oranges and pinecones are great pieces which can be interchanged depending on what decoration you intend to create. Alternatively, you can purchase a wreath from an independent business locally or via an online source such as Etsy.
The first step to a sustainable Christmas is to be open to new ideas. A little goes a long way so pick a few new ideas to try every year to build your confidence and ability. There are so many great ideas to get you thinking, but it is so easy to become overwhelmed and try to cram everything in. Assess the barriers you may face in advance, such as geographical location, which may limit what sustainable products you can access, but having a plan in place can help focus your search and result in better purchases.
Blog post author: Jasmine Wilson
Jasmine is a recent graduate of the University of Chester and a YouTube enthusiast. She believes technology is great tool for learning and what they didn’t teach us in school we can find out for ourselves!
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