This year Christmas is going to be different. We live through scary times and things are not getting any better. Gathering for Christmas is one of this things we don’t usually even question. It is a time most of us want to be close to our family and friends.
Unfortunately, with a pandemic raging, this year Christmas has to be different and it’s going to be maybe more difficult to plan, prepare and even enjoy.
But maybe it is also time to do things differently.
Christmas has reached a level of consumption which is unsustainable and mind-blowing. The mountain of gifts and of trash that follows is despicable. The food waste, the energy consumption, the endless need for new decorations and outfits…
Christmas has pretty much become an environmental disaster on its own and it is about time to reverse the trend, to come back to more sustainable practices.
To be honest, I’m afraid most people are going to do just the opposite. I’m afraid most people are going to retaliate and shop mindlessly online for crap stuff, just because ‘they need to make it special‘ ‘they need to forget about the pandemic‘ and ‘their kids need to have a normal Christmas, to be spoiled, because this year has been hard enough‘ or something like that.
Most people do not link their consumption habits to the destruction of the environment and certainly do not realize that, by making this Christmas ‘special’ for their kids, they inexorably accelerate the trend and forge an even more difficult future for their kids.
If you want to do things differently, you can read on as I’m sharing here a couple ideas on how to make Christmas more eco-friendly and hopefully more enjoyable!
It seems that the advent calendar was invented in the 19th century but really only became popular in the 1990, so only 30 years ago. To me it’s mostly another invention to sell more things! There are now luxury calendars that are worth more than what most people will earn in their lifetime. And certainly, a lot of calendars are worth more than the actual gift budget people have. Isn’t that ridiculous?
At the very least, if you really want an advent calendar, do it yourself!
There are tons of ideas on Pinterest on how to do so. if you have kids, I think the best ones are the ones that you can make with them, that will teach them a specific skill like sewing or wood carving!
Bonus points here if you make a reusable one, a beautiful and durable piece that will last a lifetime and they will be able to show their own children in decades.
Reverse advent calendars
One amazing idea which is even better than the advent calendar, is the reverse advent calendar!
The concept here is that instead of getting gifts, you give them to people in need.
Every day, you add something to a box which will be donated. First choose the charity to which you will donate and follow their guidelines. If it’s a food bank, they might only be able to handle food, but you may also be able to add toiletries for example.
Not sure you should actually wait for the 25th to donate the box, but overall this is just the loviest idea.
I have doubts any of us will feel like going to the post office this year, but if you feel like it, do create your own cards. Use recycled paper for example, and draw to your heart contempt. Please avoid glitter which is an environmental disaster. Avoid stickers and plastic stuff as well.
Obviously, this is going to take more time than just buying cards but drawing is relaxing and it will take your mind away from the world issues for a while! If you have kids, you know what to do!
If you must go to the post office, send your gifts at the same time!
It is time to plan the best gifts you’ve ever given! With limited access to shops, home made gifts are your best options! Do things you are familiar with and enjoy doing or try something completely new! If you plan ahead and mess up, you’ll still have time for plan B!
My moto is that creativity thrives in constrain!! So get on Pinterest and get cracking at home made gifts!
I love some of these items created with ropes. I think a lot of them are things that we would normally just buy, but indeed why not make them. First, I really want to try basket weaving with pine needles!
With regards to home made baked goods or personal care items, I’m always a bit scared to poison the person I’m giving it to. Nether the less, here is a great list where you might find items that you feel confident to make.
Hey! If you can’t make it, give some thing they will make! Like this paper deer! Hours of fun ahead!!
If your talents do not allow you to consider home made gifts, do consider vintage items. Don’t tell my partner, but I’m currently browsing eBay for a monogrammed set of vintage… wait I won’t say what, just in case!
Personally, I still accept vintage jewelry as a gift! But there are plenty of other vintage things that make great gifts.
Just shop in advance so you have time to repair, refurnish or just properly clean your purchase before Christmas.
The first Christmas I asked people to donate to the animal society on my behalf, lead to quite a few raised eyebrows. I did not want them to buy me stuff I didn’t need but it seemed hard to understand!
The first donation I made, on behalf of my nieces and nephews, raised eyebrows too! But only from adults because the kids actually loved it! These were donations to WWF and they received monthly emails all year long which they loved and which I’m proud to say educated them on the lost of biodiversity, the species at risks, general environmental issues… I do not know if it still works this way, as there seems to be a lot more merchandises on the site that there used to be, but you could still check it out.
Christmas decorations & lights
Well, once again, I’ll say: get on Pinterest!!
There are so many amazing ideas on how to make eco friendly Christmas decorations. Seriously why even consider buying them? It’s fun, it’s rewarding and anything with dried orange slices and cinnamon will make your house smell delightful.
A word of caution: some ideas are DIY but not eco friendly at all. Having to pop a ballon to do a rope ornement isn’t a great idea. Buying pine cones (wrapped in plastic), when you can most-likely go and forage them in the forest, seems like a waste of money, at the very least. Painting them with toxic paint or fake snow is just as bad.
Use what you have or what you can get in nature.
Additional recommendation? When bringing twigs, pine cone, acorns and pine branches, at home, let them dry, shake them and inspect them for bugs!
With regards to lights, do use led fairly lights. They are low energy consumptions and if you chose them well (meaning not too Christmassy) you can use them for other occasions.
Well this is going to be a touchy topic. How can we gather during a pandemic? Risking to kill our parents or grand parents just because we breath, talk, sing or laugh, brings an impossible dilemma.
Limiting our interactions with outsiders the week before Christmas is a bare minimum. Wearing our masks properly and washing our hands thoroughly is a must as well!
Nether-the-less, this will make planning things even more important as last minute shopping will need to be avoided.
To have a safe gathering, we will all need to be extra careful before and still probably very careful on Christmas day. No one wants to wear a mask while opening presents, but maybe it is a small price to pay, to not gift Covid to our parents.
Plan to wear your biggest sweaters, because opening windows very regularly should also be on your list of tasks.
This Christmas dinner is going to be like no others.
With limited shopping ahead, cooking will have to be well planned with less perishable items.
Personally, I’m not too worried because vegetables, grains, tofu and vegan items we use in general, do not go bad as fast as meat and fish. So yeah… Vegans win at Christmas!!
We’ll still have vegan faux gras and other delicatessen! Don’t worry for us! And after months of lockdown, we’ve all learned to bake delicious bread to go with it, haven’t we!?
If you want to have a green Christmas, make it vegan! You’ll feel better the next day anyway.
The yule log tradition
The yule log is an ancient pagan tradition which has been transformed and adapted with time and differs from one country to the other. The basic is to burn a log of wood in a ‘ceremonial way’. Very basic!
I love the idea actually and this year, I would like to do a have a yule log, adorn it, include little pieces of paper on which we’ll write what we are thankful for and yes burn it! We’ll see how that goes.
If you have a fireplace, this can really be a great idea. The preparation days ahead, and just watching the log burn could be a way to spend quality time with your family.
For many of us, all this Christmas planning starts with a big question: will we be able to go where we want to spend Christmas, or will our family will be able to come to our place?
Like you, I hope we’ll be able to gather with our loved ones.
If all goes well, my partner and I will spend the whole week, at my dad’s place, preparing and just generally enjoying the freedom that comes with living in the countryside.
These last couple years, my dad and I have done quite a few DIY Christmas decorations but there is still room for new ones, new ideas and improvements! We actually very much enjoy such time spent together. At least, I do!
We might even spend part of the evening, in the middle of my dad’s field, wrapped up in blankets, drinking mulled wine, while roasting chestnuts. No Covid there!
I look forward to being in such a safe bubble, forgetting for a while what is going on and what is coming.
And I hope you find your own bubble and have a Merry, safe and green Christmas!