by Kimberly Blackford
In a season of excess, it is hard to look at the holiday season and see anything that isn’t overindulgent. From the mounds of ripped up wrapping paper, to all the boxes and other materials piled near the tree after the toys have been opened; the holiday season seems to promote wastefulness. But, it doesn’t have to. From the halls you deck, to the tree you decorate, there are a variety of ways to reduce, reuse, and recycle, or “green up” the holiday season throughout your home.
From the stockings filled with care, to the perfect Christmas tree selected for the living room, there are simple and easy ways to decorate your home for the holidays using greener alternatives.
Let’s start with the Christmas tree. If possible, use as many items from year to year to decorate rather than buying new ones each year. Believe it or not, pulling out old ornaments passed down through the years is “greener” than buying new ones. It’s the whole concept of “reusing”. So, dust off your grandmother’s tree skirt and your mom’s ornaments and hang them on the tree. Not only will they add character, but some nostalgia to go right along with it. And, of course, a real tree is a much greener way to go than an artificial one. It may seem that cutting down a Christmas tree may be harmful to the environment, but it’s not. Trees can always be replanted, but the chemicals released when manufacturing faux trees can’t be removed from the atmosphere or soil. So, put up a real Christmas tree and compost or mulch it after the season is over. Just be sure to select a tree that hasn’t been treated with pesticides or chemicals.
Here are some other great ideas for creating an eco-friendly Christmas tree:
Use your traditional lights until they burn out, but when it’s time to replace them buy LED lights that use less energy than conventional Christmas lights, so they will save you on your electric bill. LED lights are brighter, cool to the touch and stay lit if one light goes out.
There are also a variety of edible treats that can transform your Christmas tree into something truly spectacular. From strings of popcorn or cranberries, to gingerbread men you bake yourself; there are countless options that can bedeck your tree as well as your staircases and fireplace mantles. These organic options are festive and can be composted when it’s time to take the decorations down. But, if you have a furry friend in your family, make sure those delicious gingerbread ornaments and the other edible decorations aren’t within reach or you may find your tree empty and a pet with a stomachache!
Other terrific options are pinecones and acorns. Use them in their natural state, or spray them with gold or silver paint to make them more formal. Or, cut small branches that have berries and place in a tall vase. Another stylish look can be created by spray painting branches to match the pinecones or acorns and tucking them into areas throughout your tree for a unique look.
Table Decorations and
Other Popular Holiday Decorating
Stockings - One of the most cherished holiday items that gets hung each year are stockings. If you are creative or enjoy making things yourself, then try knitting stockings for your family. Not only can they be knit to entirely match your holiday color scheme, but handmade items are always more cherished than store bought ones. Plus, learning this new hobby can result in personalized handmade gifts such as socks, scarves, gloves and hats for all of your family and friends.
Table centerpieces - When setting your holiday table this season, take cues from nature and use fresh fruits in vibrant colors. Oranges studded with whole cloves are a beautiful and fragrant option. Or, fill a beautiful bowl with fresh whole nuts, cinnamon sticks, pears or pomegranates. Using any fruit that’s in-season is an inexpensive choice as well. Not only will they add color, but also they provide a healthy snack for all those who happen to spot them! To complement your centerpiece, it is fun and easy to select a piece or fruit for everyone’s place or put a pinecone on the table setting along with a place card.
Candles - There’s nothing quite like the soft glow of candlelight. And, since the days are darker earlier during the holidays, using candles to create a special warmth and glow throughout your home is a great choice. Be sure to select beeswax or soy candles to avoid harmful environmental and health-related problems associated with conventional candles.
Mantles, Balconies and Banisters - Instead of the plastic garland all the stores sell this time of year, use real pine garland that can be purchased wherever you buy live Christmas trees in your area. It is easy to hang and the natural smell of pine will be a welcome scent when you enter your home all holiday season.
Gift Wrapping - If you have wrapping from year’s past, be sure to use it up before you buy more. Also, newspaper and old maps can make interesting wrapping choices. For a unique gift tag option, purchase some seed packets and write a special message on it. After the gift is unwrapped, the seeds can be planted an enjoyed as they grow.
So, before you head to the store and fill your cart with countless new Christmas decorations for your home this year, think about the organic items in and around your home that will offer beautiful alternatives to the usual store-bought Christmas bling. You will be surprised at their beauty while educating family and friends on how to live a greener life.
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