Eco-Friendly “Christmas” or “Solstice” Tree:
Something I have done in the past (which was really fun!) was to use a tree outside (one growing in the ground) as the tree to decorate then buying a little tabletop plant or small potting tree to put on a small table to put gifts around. The joy of being outside decorating, all wrapped up in winter wear, adds gusto to the festivities, and if their are kids involved in your celebrations, even better! They usually LOVE any excuse to play outside :) and the smells, temperature, etc. bring more of the senses alive with the season.
If you love the smell of typical holiday tree and want it inside your house, you can still accomplish this by using trimmings of trees to make inside decorations :)
You can also use a diffuser with Pine or Spruce essential oil to reach the same objective :)
One of my favorite things is to buy a rosemary plant fashioned into the shape of a typical “Christmas” tree. The scent makes me smile and we can use it in holiday cooking and many things well beyond the season. This plant can stay in the pot or go outside to be planted after the holiday :)
Sometimes I buy a small potted tree (like a Norfolk Pine) that I plant outside afterward. If you don’t have the space for a tree that will grow large like this, you can always give it to someone who loves plants and will love a new green friend for their yard.
Eco-Friendly Gift Wrapping Paper:
If you are not attached to the ripping-of-gift-paper experience, you can use beautiful natural fabrics to wrap presents.
If you really want the typical present-opening experience, there are MANY cool eco-friendly alternatives for this now. Here is one site, wrappily.com, that has wonderful, colorful options for recycled gift paper that is also recyclable. Most gift paper is not recyclable because it is laminated, dyed, or contains other additives that are not paper.
If you buy things off of Amazon or for any other reason have boxes/packaging, you can use the boxes and the brown paper in the packaging for your gifts. This is what I do. This gives you access to boxes of different sizes that only need tape to close the top. (Speaking of tape, here is a great packaging tape that is completely plant-derived, renewable, and biodegradable, EcoEnclose - https://www.ecoenclose.com/category_s/40.htm )
I use the brown paper that comes in mail packages as wrapping paper and decorate the outside with art or natural materials. My kids love to have free reign in decorating the outside of surfaces, I am thinking my crew is not unique in this way :)
Eco-Friendly House/Office Decorations for the Holiday Season:
There are massive amounts of DIY natural decoration making ideas online! Or you can access your own creativity. It is great fun to see what your environment holds as ingredients for perfect decorations. Here are some that I have done:
I have a large Pine tree in my yard so we have access to limitless pinecones. These are very festive for the holiday season :) We make decorations for the tree and house with the pinecones. Something my kids adore is to paint the pinecones. Here is a great site with a list of sites with green crafting materials: http://craftingagreenworld.com/2011/05/06/10-places-to-find-eco-friendly-art-supplies/
Acorns are crazy fun to gather. We use them for all kinds of projects and just to scatter about for the season and beyond.
Making Winter Fairy Houses of local and natural materials is another awesome fun idea :)
I hope this blog inspires you to get creative with how you celebrate the season :)
Eco-Friendly Holiday Gifts:
Buying local, handmade things, especially from artisans who are focuses on sustainable living is a really great idea! Local Farmer's Markets and other Faires and Art Shows are a great place to do this. You could also make things yourself :) There are more ways to buy eco-friendly things popping up online every day. Here is one great site: http://eartheasy.com/gifts Something else to consider is giving the gift of your time and focus, special event, or other 'experiential' gifts that take the focus off of materialism and onto the connection with others that is at the source of the season :)
Annie Botticelli is a Radical Self-Development Coach, Teacher at her ‘Shine Your Brilliance University’, Astrologer, & Eco-Enthusiast