15 Ideas for Having an EcoFriendly Christmas

ecofriendly christmas

Christmas is a fun and festive time of year, but it can be hard to avoid our consumerist culture. Whether you’re making your own Christmas cards or renting a Christmas tree, there are plenty of ways to make the festive season more sustainable. Here are 15 ideas for having an eco-friendly Christmas!

Eco-friendly Christmas Decorations

There are plenty of beautiful and festive decorations that are made from sustainable materials. For example, you can buy or make ornaments out of recycled glass or metal, natural wreaths made from evergreen branches, and LED lights instead of traditional light strands.

The same applies to ornaments. You can buy ornaments from sustainable materials or even make some of your own. For example, you could collect pine cones from your local woods or pick some holly to make a wreath out of evergreen branches. Creating decorations is a great way to get the kids involved, although you’ll need to be careful with the holly prickles – a sturdy pair of gardening gloves are very useful for this activity!

Alternatively, you can make edible Christmas decorations. There are plenty of recipes online (including ones that kids can follow) so why not give it a go. You can have a sneaky treat for yourself when you hang them on the tree.

Ecofriendly Christmas tree

There are different ways to do the Christmas tree – you can even rent one! If you buy a tree, make sure it is from a sustainable source and check that it can be recycled after use. These days, there are different types of Christmas trees to choose from, including fresh trees that can be replanted and artificial trees made from recycled materials. You might even find a tree for free on groups such as freecycle.

Eco-smart Christmas lights

Now, who doesn’t like lights and a Christmas tree? There are a lot of different types of eco-friendly Christmas lights to choose from these days. Most of them are LED versions that consume less electricity during the few hours they’re turned on (which is great for your household bills!)

Eco-smart Christmas cards

Making your own homemade greeting cards is a wonderful way to reduce the amount of paper that ends up in landfills during this festive time of year. You can even use recycled or handmade papers and environmentally friendly markers, crayons and paints for an extra special touch! Or you can send cards that can be planted in the garden in the new year.

Sustainable Christmas gifts

Christmas needs to be sustainable for your pocket as well as the environment. The most obvious way to avoid wasting money is by limiting who you buy presents for. For example, Secret Santa presents are fun but are unnecessary and cost you time and money to participate in. Why not all agree to donate to charity instead? There are many charities at this time of year that would appreciate the extra support.

If you wanted to buy gifts, then find local products or sustainably made products that can be reused, recycled or repurposed in some way.

Limit the number of presents you buy.

We only buy for family and we have limited the number of gifts we buy for our children to four – yes, four! Years ago, there was a post on Facebook about limiting the number of gifts for children and we have adopted the idea ever since. We discussed the idea with our kids and they were more than happy to go with it. In fact, they now remind us before we even ask about presents!

  • Something to wear
  • Something to read
  • something you want
  • Something you need

The four-gift limit works because it gets kids to really think about (and appreciate) the gifts they receive. There are also elements of practicality (something to wear, something you need) with a bit of learning thrown in for good measure (something to read). Being sustainable is about living without overindulging and the four gift rule really helps children understand that there need to be limits to consumption.

Buy ‘alternative’ gifts

We started buying digital products like books and games quite a while ago because everything is now more accessible online. We are not the only ones who think this way – DVD sales have dropped by 86% since the launch of Netflix.

There are some great apps and membership sites such as Bookbub which offer a range of books to download at heavily discounted prices. If you have anyone who loves books in your family, they will love having access to thousands of books.

Alternatively, why not give second-hand books a home? There are lots of charity shops and online sites that sell second-hand books. The book lover in your family will appreciate the book you give, regardless of whether it’s nearly new or digital.

Eco-friendly Christmas wrapping paper

As a child, you might have giggled when grandma neatly folded her wrapping paper (so she could reuse it) but she was clearly ahead of the game! Like many older relatives, keeping gift bags and Christmas cards to repurpose them into tags is a great idea. By reusing items, you are reducing landfill, reducing your carbon footprint, saving a few trees and saving money too -it’s a win-win!

Alternatively, you can wrap gifts with fabric. There are lots of videos on Youtube that show you how to wrap different goods.

A Re-useable Advent Calendar

Do you buy Advent calendars every year? Why not buy a reusable one! For sweets, you can buy a range of loose sweets from your local sweet shop. We go to our local sweet shop during the festive season and choose a range of sweets that are weighed out and given to us in paper bags made from recycled paper. We automatically reduce the amount of plastic in the ecosystem by not buying cheap supermarket advent calendars. The kids enjoy it too because they get to choose a different sweet to eat each day.

Eco-friendly Christmas traditions

There are a lot of different ways to make changes to your Christmas this year. Why not start some new festive traditions that will help reduce your environmental impact?

We understand the need to physically hand over something to friends or family on the big day. If you really need to hand something over, make a food item such as gingerbread biscuits. Better still, you can invite friends over and have a ‘Christmas bake party’ on Christmas Eve – the adults get to catch up (mulled wine, anyone?) and the kids get to make biscuits and mince pies! After the party, the kids get to take their biscuits home.

Eco-Friendly Christmas Food

We decide which food can be made at home. Party food like quiche can be made and frozen for up to 3 months. You can also part cook vegetables and freeze them, saving time on the big day.

We also buy our festive food and drink bit by bit from October onwards to spread the cost of Christmas over 3 months, rather than try and get everything in December. Part of the reason we all spend too much at Christmas is that we overspend in the short period leading up to the big day. You can avoid this by sensible planning and strategic shopping in the months running up to Christmas.

Eco-friendly Christmas Drinks 

For fairtrade, organic or vegan-friendly wine, try your local Co-op or Waitrose. Be aware that some wine companies impact local drinking water sources and have been linked to workers’ rights abuses, all of which damages our fragile ecosystem. Most eco-friendly wine costs the same as any other wine so there isn’t any real reason not to buy them, Of course, making the effort to buy eco-friendly wine gives you the warm fuzzy feeling that you are contributing to saving the planet.

Christmas Day

The big day!  No doubt someone will surprise you and buy you something. We worry about this a lot as we feel obligated to do something in return. Sometimes a simple hug and “thank you” is enough.

In our house, we always write down who gave us a gift, so we can send a thank you card after Christmas. Thank you cards may be an old fashioned activity but it is a good way of showing your appreciation of a gift. For thank you cards, you can buy eco-friendly ones with seeds embedded so they can be planted in the garden – they are literally a gift that keeps on giving!


Ah, leftovers! We try not to throw food away unnecessarily. There are plenty of recipes you can try to use up leftovers. You can also invite family and friends over to join you in eating all that lovely food you have prepared.

Alternatively, why not find invite an older neighbour over for tea. We are suffering a loneliness epidemic in the UK and some elderly people go weeks without speaking to someone. There are lots of ways to reach out to people if you don’t know anyone locally – there are Facebook groups, local church groups or organisations like Age UK that can put you in touch with someone locally who might need some company.

So Christmas is over – and relax…

There is nothing quite like a winter walk in the fresh air with dogs and children free to roam. The week between Christmas and New Year is a great time to kick start planning new family activities. You can also visit friends, visit your local library or local places of interest. If you usually travel by car, try travelling by public transport instead – the kids will appreciate the adventure and you’ll be helping the planet too. Being out and about, also saves on your fuel costs, parking costs and your energy consumption at home. It’s a great way of saving some pennies while saving the planet too.

Well, that’s it for now. If you have any tips for an eco-friendly Christmas why not add them below. We’d love to hear your ideas!