“Bloody hell. Can’t this girl just let us enjoy anything without moaning about how we’re killing the planet one bauble at a time?”
Before you roll your eyes too hard, hear me out. I promise I’m not a Grinch.
The absolute last thing I want to do with this blog post is to take the joy away from you decorating your home. After all, if you’ve spent more than 2 seconds on this corner of the internet, you’ll know I bloody adore Christmas. And in fact, one of my absolute favourite things about the season is covering my house in anything that sparkles or glitters. So you can rest assured that these eco-friendly decorating ideas are super festive and have all of the charm of “traditional” decor. If they didn’t, I couldn’t recommend them. My half-elf heart just wouldn’t allow it.
On top of that, none of these tips are difficult or expensive. I may be an elf, but I’m a thrifty one with very limited crafting abilities. If I can reduce my environmental impact at Christmas, anyone can.
Natural, biodegradable garland
My theme this year is very, very heavily inspired by Pinterest. And by “heavily inspired” I mean “more or less lifted directly from, with a slightly shabbier finish”. One thing I coveted the whole time I was stuck in uni halls with no decorations was a natural garland. So this year I made one, dammit!
I used completely biodegradable objects for the most part: Cinnamon sticks, dried oranges (I dried them myself after buying them in bulk in my local farm shop), evergreen foliage, pine cones and natural string to hold it all together. The only non-biodegradable part of it is the copper swirls, which I salvaged from some wires that my electrician step-dad was going to throw away.
Nope, I don’t think I’ve ever been so smug about something my my whole life tbh.
A locally grown, real Christmas tree
Whilst I totally understand the merits of a fake tree (not spending the whole of December worrying that you’ll kill it before the 25th must be nice), environmentally speaking, real Christmas trees almost always win. And locally grown Christmas trees that don’t have a large carbon footprint do always win. They aren’t made of plastic, are compostable or recyclable once they’ve fulfilled their Christmas destiny and they’re grown in controlled conditions meaning that your festive cheer doesn’t also fund deforestation.
And, I mean, real tree smell, ammirite?
Salt dough decorations
If you’ve never made salt dough at Christmas 1. you’ve clearly never met me because I would have forced you to by now and 2. you need to get on it ASAP.
With an extremely simple recipe and some basic primary school cookie cutters you can make super cute decorations to hang on your tree. Luckily me and my brother went a little bit crazy with Christmas crafting when we were kids, so my mum had some she was more than happy to get rid of this year and send in my direction!
Shall we call them “rustic”?
My upcycled wreath
My wreath started off as a very sparse looking soul that definitely needed a makeover. My Mum found it in a dusty box at the back of our loft during a clear out and was going to throw it away, so I bagged it before she did. Since I went a tad overboard with drying oranges for my garland, I had enough to add to the wreath (and then some!), plus a few cinnamon sticks and fake foliage from other old decorations.
I bulked it out with possibly the best thing I’ve ever found in a charity shop: These pine cone Christmas lights. Totally worth the bank-breaking 50p!
Begging, Borrowing and Stealing
Aside from the ones I made or upcyled, most of the rest of my decorations this year were borrowed from family members who didn’t want or weren’t planning on using them this Christmas. So, even though I certainly do have my fair share of plastic and glitter on my tree (the orange, glittery leaf garland we have makes my heart happy, okay?), they weren’t bought new.
And in the interest of honesty…
As I always say, I’m striving for improvement, not perfection, when it comes to making more ethical choices. So there’s no point in pretending that I didn’t do a sneaky Christmas haul in B&M, Pound Land and John Lewis. I got us one pack of baubles, a string of lights and a star for the top of our tree. Oh and a sausage dog dressed as a reindeer because, seriously, how could I not?
Let’s file that under the term “balance”.