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8 Ideas for A Planet friendly Christmas

Updated: 2 days ago

As Christmas approaches with alarming speed, do you find the rampant consumerism a bit much, and yearn to do things a little differently?

Happily, there are loads of ways that you can make your Christmas celebrations a little more planet friendly, and we explore some of our favourites in this article.

Gingerbread Christmas tree with Christmas decorations in background

Planet Friendly Christmas ideas

Here are eight ideas to help you resist the spell of over-consumption and become a more conscious consumer this Christmas:

1. Enjoy a second-hand Christmas

There are so many options for second-hand shopping: you can buy online from sites such as Facebook Marketplace, eBay, Depop, Vinted or Gumtree, or from the numerous charity shops on your local High Street.

If you’re looking specifically for clothes, also take a look at Thrift Plus, or Oxfam Online.

You don't even need to buy something second-hand - take a look around you instead. You may well have some items around your home that although there's nothing wrong with them, you just don't use, or don't like, or don't need. (But do take care that you don't give it back to the person who gave it to you in the first place!)

It goes without saying that before gifting a second-hand item, you should give it a good clean and repair or replace any broken elements.

2. Make it a handmade Christmas

If all participants agree, having a handmade Christmas is a really good way to make Christmas special, whilst reducing your environmental impact. You probably need to think about how this will work in practice: are you going to have to make 20-odd individual gifts for all your extended family, or will you each randomly select the name of one family member/friend (like choosing names for secret Santa) and make a gift with that person in mind?

A pair of green hand-knitted socks with a ball of wool and knitting needles alongside

If handmade is the route for you, here are a few ideas (depending on your particular interests and skill levels):

  • Food is an obvious option. Think biscuits, cakes, cheese, liqueurs, sweets, chocolates, jams, chutneys, and sauces

  • Candles

  • Wooden goods, such as whittled spoons, letter opener, nest box, hedgehog house, insect hotel, house name or number

  • Leather goods, for example bags, belts, wallets, key fobs, bookmarks and purses

  • Knitted items: jumpers, blankets, hats, scarves, socks

  • Ceramics: plates, bowls, mugs (if you’re not up to making your own, lots of places allow you to decorate ready made items yourself)

  • Sewn items, such as bags, quilts, clothes, aprons, table linens

  • Jewellery

  • Toiletries such as hand cream, lip balms, facial scrubs, bath bombs and bath salts

  • Plants grown from cuttings

  • Photo album or scrap book

  • Create a family recipe book

Herbs potted in enamel mugs

3. Gift consumables

These are the sorts of gifts I like to receive – stuff that I can enjoy quickly, but don’t have to find space in my life to keep long term.

The obvious choice is anything edible or drinkable, whether homemade or bought! But other possibilities include, soaps, shampoo bars, potted herbs and candles.

Selection of beeswax candles in different shapes on a wooden table

4. Invest in reusable gifts

Reusable gifts are a great way to help others reduce their environmental impact and are especially good gifts for students or those on a low income. Reusable items can be more expensive than their disposable counterparts, and cost is sometimes a barrier to switching to greener alternatives.

Good reusable gifts include:

5. Choose repurposed gifts

Look out for gifts that are made from recycled materials:

  • Bags made from old jeans

  • Cushions from recycled jumpers

  • Hats, scarves, handwarmers from recycled cashmere (eg Turtle Doves)

  • Old furniture, given a new lease of life

  • Sweatshirts made from recycled cotton (eg Rubbish London)

  • Plant pots from discarded fishing gear (eg Ocean Plastic Pots)

6. Give a subscription

These days you can get almost anything on subscription, from magazines (physical or digital), loo roll and cheese, to toys, flowers, candles and spices.

If you decide that a subscription gift is the way forward, make sure that it’s relevant and will be used by the recipient, otherwise it’s just a waste of good money and resources.

7. Gift an experience

An ‘experience’ doesn't have to be as dramatic as a hot air balloon ride (although that's fine if it's something the recipient would enjoy). They can be more down to earth, such as:

  • Taking the recipient on a day out to a local garden or attraction

  • Lunch at a favourite pub, or afternoon tea at a local hotel

  • Gift cards for a favourite cafe, book store, or beauty therapist (this has the added benefit of boosting independent businesses)

  • Tickets to an event, concert, exhibition or sporting fixture

  • Day workshop in cookery, painting, yoga, furniture restoration, drumming, etc

Woman lying on a couch enjoying an aromatherapy massage

8. Choose plastic-free

But if the typical Christmas gift exchange and usual way of shopping is what works for you, that’s fine, you can still make a few small changes in order to be a greener consumer:

  • Choose wooden toys over plastic

  • Look out for plastic-free toiletries

  • Favour edible gifts that come in recyclable packaging rather than being sealed in plastic

Five brightly coloured wooden toy cars

Top Tips for a planet friendly Christmas

In summary, when aiming for a Planet Friendly Christmas, try to focus on gifts that are:

  • Second hand

  • Handmade

  • Reusable

  • Repurposed

  • Consumable

  • Local

  • Plastic free

Jar containing glowing Christmas lights with further Christmas decorations in the background

Related articles

Both of these make great homemade gifts:

For thoughts on a more radical approach to paring down Christmas excess see:

For more money saving ideas see:

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