Decorating our homes is a big part of the Christmas celebrations for many of us. The great news is that it’s possible to make your home look gorgeously festive and bright using solely sustainable decorations.
We’ve collected a few of our favourite eco-friendly Christmas decorating tips – it’s time to deck the halls.
Greenery has long been associated with Christmas, and there’s no more sustainable way to decorate your home than with your garden trimmings. When you give your garden its early winter tidy, hang onto evergreen branches, twigs and woody herbs, which can be used to create naturally beautiful Christmas decorations. If you’re super-organised, cut stems and branches in early November to dry in your airing cupboard – they’ll last longer this way.
You can really go for it and make a classic Christmas wreath (there seem to be wreath-making workshops popping up all over the place this year), or simply pop some evergreen branches or stems of holly on the mantelpiece or window sills. Leave the berries for the birds, and use red LED lights instead (more about these in a minute).
If you want to buy foliage, your local florist should have a selection of traditional Christmas greenery like mistletoe. Again, you’ll need to be organised and shop before they sell out!
Add pretty details to the foliage like pinecones, nuts and teasels. You can buy eco-friendly and organic metallic paints to decorate them with. These are more expensive than the standard versions, but definitely worth it if you want to add silver or gold to your green decor scheme.
Organic fruit, nuts and spices
As well as looking gorgeous, store cupboard staples like orange slices and cinnamon sticks give your home a wonderfully festive fragrance. You could try:
- Wheels of dried orange or lemon, gently dried out in a low oven and tied onto the tree with a loop of ribbon or twine.
- Drill tiny holes in walnuts (careful now) and pop in a bent paperclip to hook them over the branches.
- Create little bundles of cinnamon sticks, tied with ribbon or twine. For an extra-pretty look, stick a star anise onto the bow.
- Salt dough decorations are a great festive activity, and you can really get creative with designs!
Don’t worry - if crafting’s not your thing, you can easily buy more sustainable off-the-shelf decorations. Wooden, glass or copper Christmas tree decorations look lovely and will last for years. Some baubles are made from recycled materials, and you can even buy eco-friendly tinsel.
Fabric bunting makes a great alternative to PVC tinsel and swags, and look out for tree decorations made from various materials such as cotton, wool and felt. Paper chains are a great traditional way to decorate sustainably (the clue’s in the name!), and you can involve the whole family in making them.
While we’re talking reusable materials, organic sweets and chocolate tree decorations are the ultimate in repurposing! Edible tree decorations never go to waste, and it’s more fun choosing a treat from the tree than from the kitchen cupboard.
Beeswax candles bring a cosy glow to your festive decor, and we have a lovely selection among our Christmas homeware gifts. Organic and beeswax candles make perfect Christmas presents for fellow eco-friendly family members and friends.
Display them safely in reused glass jars or simply stand a pillar candle on a plate. Candles make great additions to your Christmas table (maybe for the grown-up meals only…), especially when surrounded by festive foliage.
If you love sparkles at Christmas, it’s perfectly possible to be eco-friendly while bringing a bit of bling to your home. You can buy biodegradable glitter, which is made from natural materials like plant cellulose and is great for home-made decorations.
You don’t have to go without fairy lights either. LED lights are energy efficient and will last for years. When they finally give up, they can be recycled under the WEEE regs. Maximise their impact by draping them near glass and copper tree ornaments, which will shine beautifully among the lights.
An eco-friendly Christmas tree
And now for the big question: what’s the most environmentally friendly Christmas tree option? Many of us naturally gravitate towards a real tree as the most sustainable choice, and provided it’s grown in this country and FSC certified, you know it’s been grown in as green a way as possible. Make sure you dispose of it with your garden waste after Twelfth Night, or chip it yourself to use as mulch.
However, the greenest way to enjoy a real tree is to buy a potted one that you use year after year. You’ll need to look after it, but this in itself makes a potted Christmas tree a rewarding option.
What about artificial trees? They’re mostly made from plastic, but arguably are reused. It takes about a decade of Christmasses for an artificial tree to catch up with a sustainably grown real tree in terms of carbon footprint. If you buy a good-quality fake tree and store it well, it should easily last at least this long.
You can also be creative and step away from the traditional Christmas tree. Decorate tall hazel twigs with eco-friendly paint, lights and baubles for a contemporary feel. Make your “tree” from something completely different like books (check out the tree at St Pancras Station) or wooden doweling.
Share your festive tips with Ulula
Do you have any great suggestions for sustainable Christmas decorations? Share them with us at Ulula!