Christmas is truly the most magical time of the year! Unfortunately, it’s also the most wasteful.
The festive season has a huge environmental impact in terms of water use, greenhouse gases and land disturbance caused by the production of some of our favorite holiday treats and staples.
If we could all try to reduce our own eco-footprint just a little, it would go a long way to protecting our environment.
For example, if every family reused just two feet of holiday ribbon, the 28,000 miles of ribbon saved could tie a bow around planet Earth.
In the US, 2.65 billion Christmas cards are sold each year – that’s enough to fill a football field ten stories high. But if we each sent just one less card, we’d save 50,000 cubic yards of paper.
Another way we can make small changes, but have a big impact, is by making our own earth-friendly Christmas decorations. Most of these cost mere cents to make as they’re based on recycling and upcycling what you’ve already got and foraging for what you don’t have!
From natural wreaths and driftwood trees to pine cone reindeer and Mason jar crafts, these decorations will entertain and delight.
First things first – let’s look at Christmas trees, the focal point of your holiday decor! End the debate regarding ‘real or fake’ by opting for one of these much more eco-friendly and ‘interesting’ alternatives.
A ‘Living’ Tree
If you can’t bear to be without a real Christmas tree, consider getting a potted, living tree. You’ll still have the fresh festive smell but can plant it in your garden afterwards, and enjoy its beauty year-round.
It’ll also offset some of the environmental impact of your Christmas. Want to know some other benefits of planting a tree? Here are 12!
Learn how to care for your living tree here.
Recycled Cardboard Tree
Instead of chopping down a perfectly healthy tree, how about using an already-dead one?
By recycling some old cardboard boxes, you’ll end up with a minimalistic 3D tree that can be decorated with lights and baubles just like any other.
Follow Geek Dad’s instructions here.
If you live by a beach, then you’ll probably be inundated with driftwood. Here’s the perfect use for it – an unusual, nautical-themed tree.
For step-by-step instructions, see here.
Love the driftwood tree but don’t have any driftwood? No problem! You might find it easier to come across a wooden pallet – try asking at construction sites or local stores to see if they would donate one to you.
Best of all – there’s no cutting or gluing required. A little optional paint and a few nails are all you need before your pallet is ready to decorate!
Here’s how you make it.
Paperback Book Mini Tree
For those who want a mini Christmas tree, this is ideal. It’s also perfect for book-lovers.
All you need to do is sacrifice one battered paperback book. With a little dry adhesive, you’ll have this put together in just a few minutes. For a bit more bling, add a sprinkle of glitter to the mix.
Instructions can be found here.
Now that we’ve got Christmas trees covered, it’s time to move on to wreaths. Did you know that the wreath is thought to have originated in ancient Rome as a sign of victory and status? Now you can show your eco-friendly status with one of these crafty creations:
Foraged Greens Wreath
Bring the smell of the forest to your front door by foraging for your own greenery.
Choose the colors and textures that work for your home but aim to include eucalyptus, fir and holly for a truly fragrant and festive feel.
Watch this short video for some more expert tips.
Practically-Free Pine Cone Wreath
This pretty pine-cone wreath is another foraged option without the greenery. Adding a big satin bow to the circle of cones gives it a high-quality, store-bought finish without the hefty price tag.
Here’s the simple tutorial.
Edible Herb Wreath
One for the foodies out there! Make a delicious and fragrant wreath using items from your herb garden. It would look perfect hanging in any Christmas kitchen.
Weave together lavender, rosemary, bay leaf branches and any other herbs you like. Add a splash of color and texture with red chilies and garlic bulbs. Voila!
See how the Yuppie Chef does it.
Upcycled Holly Leaf Holiday Card Wreath
Put your portion of those 2.65 billion Christmas greeting cards to good use with this upcycled holly-leaf holiday card wreath.
Learn how to make one here.
Recyclable Paper Wreath
Made with just old newspapers (or magazines for more color) and an empty cereal box, Christmas decorations don’t get much more eco-friendly than this!
Even if you don’t have space to store it for next Christmas, you can just toss it in the recycling pile, safe in the knowledge that it’s 100% recyclable and degradable.
Here’s how you fashion a newspaper into a wreath.
There are countless ways to decorate your tree using recycled and upcycled items you’ll find lying around your home and garage. Here are some of the best:
Puzzle Piece Snowflakes
If you or someone in your family is a puzzle aficionado, you’ll probably have a ton of puzzle boxes with one or two missing pieces. Put what’s left to good use by shaping them into delightful snowflakes.
You can even add them to wrapped gifts for an extra special touch.
Find out what you need to do here.
Fashion these rustic snowflakes out of foraged twigs, pine needles, berries, old buttons and ribbons…making them as individual and unique as real snowflakes!
Check out the tutorial here.
Soda Can Tab Bauble
Finally, a stylish use for the ring-pulls that come on soda cans! This shiny, retro ball is made using all the leftover tabs you can find, along with an old Christmas bauble.
(A word of warning – it may shock you how much soda you’re drinking to amass so many ring-pulls for these baubles. Here’s why drinking soda is a bad idea!)
To learn how to make this soda bauble, click here.
Santa Toilet Paper Rolls
Toilet paper crafts sound so tacky don’t they? But this Santa version will surprise you! Even if you don’t like it, we can guarantee the kids will love these.
Check out the instructions here.
Pine Cone Reindeer
Another pre-school inspired craft, these pine cone reindeer will complement the toilet roll Santa perfectly.
Simple add a red nose and some eyes to a pine cone, give him a few twigs for antlers and add a ribbon to hang him from on your ‘living’ Christmas tree.
Snowy Epsom Salt Pine cones
Another way to use pine cones is to give them a snowy feel and hang them on the tree.
It couldn’t be easier – brush the ends of the cones with some glue and sprinkle with Epsom salt. Add a little burlap ribbon and they’re ready to hang. See the full how-to here.
No Epsom salt on hand? Here’s 20 reasons why Epsom salt should be in every home!
Mason Jar Lid Ornaments
Gather up your spare Mason jar lids, some old scraps of fabric (cozy red flannel looks great) and a glue gun. Add little shapes like reindeer, bells or snowflakes for a truly festive effect.
These delightful disks would work really well hanging next to the Rustic Snowflakes listed above!
You’ll find the instructions here.
What staircase or mantel would be complete without a festive garland adorning it? ‘Green’ DIY ideas includes:
Cinnamon Orange Garland
For something that both smells and looks amazing, this garland is the outright winner.
Acorn caps are filled with freshly-made apple cinnamon dough, and then strung together with orange slices for a delicious hanging decoration.
Recipe and instructions can be found here.
Recycled Christmas Gift Bag Garland
This glitzy chain is made by cutting circles from old holiday gift bags and stringing them together. It’ll work for New Year’s Eve decor too!
This is how you do it.
Easy Greeting Card Garland
If every available surface is covered with holiday cards, consider stringing them up with pretty ribbon and natural wooden clothes pins for a storage solution and attractive garland in one.
Martha Stewart explains it all here.
No Christmas table is complete without a festive focal point. These centerpieces won’t fail to impress, despite the fact that they took mere minutes to whip up.
Cranberry Candle Float
Sometimes simple is best! Add fresh cranberries to a bowl of water and place some white floating candles on top for instant class. See here for more details.
Easy Epsom Salt ‘Snow’ & Cranberry Evergreens
Layer Epsom salt, ripe cranberries and freshly picked winter greens in a hurricane vase or Mason jar for a striking natural look.
Check it out here.
Rustic Tree Stump Centerpiece
For those sticking with the rustic, wooden theme this centerpiece is a must.
Find yourself a tree stump or part of a thick branch (but please don’t cut down a tree specifically for this purpose!). Use the stump as a base for an eclectic mix of candles.
It’s surprisingly fabulous! Here’s the look you’re aiming for.
Reclaimed Wooden Candle Centerpiece
There’s no doubt about it – when combined correctly, wood and candles produce a warm and cozy feel.
From a piece of reclaimed lumber or wooden fence post, carve out holes to hold several candles. Add a little ‘distress’ to the wood for an antique feel.
The Sweetest Occasion provides a detailed how-to with images here.
Simple Evergreen & Pine Cone Centerpiece
Go back to basics with an easy table decoration using even more foraged evergreens and pine cones.
Details are here.
Candles & Candle Holders
It wouldn’t be Christmas without candles and festive candle holders like these ones:
Cozy Jam Jar Candle Holders
In the weeks before Christmas, hang on to your empty jars – the more random sizes you have the better. Simply give them all crocheted or yarn jackets and add a tea light candle – they give off a welcoming glow all Christmas long.
Full details can be found here.
Snowy Pine Cone Candle Jars
Epsom salt, lace and pine cones come together to form these delightfully crafty candle jars. You’ll find the full tutorial here.
Soy Wax Cinnamon Spice Candle
These cinnamon candles smell good enough to eat! Using just festive essential oils and soy wax, they’re guaranteed toxin-free.
To make these spiced candles, follow these steps.
Upcycled Wine Bottle Candle Holders
With a steady stream of guests all season long, you’re sure to amass a hoard of empty wine bottles. Don’t add them to the recycling pile just yet though – they make perfect candle holders.
Simply add a little wrapping paper and some lush green ribbon – just like Good Housekeeping have done with these ones.
Christmas Themed Jars
The obsession with Mason Jars just keeps on going it seems! Here are a few cute ways to make them Christmassy:
Edible Gingerbread Terrariums
Eco-friendly, festive and edible decor? This craft is a winner by anyone’s standards!
Filled with ginger bread, coconut ‘snow’, marzipan Christmas trees and candy canes, these will look great on any kitchen table. Kids just love them too.
Best of all, you can eat them afterwards, meaning they’re a zero-waste ornament. Here’s the delicious recipe.
Fairy Light Mason Jars
Adding some fairy lights to a Mason jar is an instant way to make your home more magical – like fireflies in a jar. It’s pretty easy to do but for some extra guidance, see here.
Poinsettia in Mason Jars
A spring of Poinsettia, a couple of festive bells and a Mason jar can work wonders in any home. Here are the quick and easy instructions.
Now that your home is looking stylish with ‘green’ Christmas cheer, you’ll want it to smell equally as great. Make sure you check out these 23 all-natural ways to make your home smell festive.