12 Tips For A More Sustainable Festive Season

Our very own Oddbox team members, Ellie and Thom have compiled some of their top sustainable tips to help us all be mindful about waste during the festive period.

1. Choose an eco-friendly Christmas tree 

Why not make your celebrations merrier and greener with some festive sustainable tips. Kicking off with the Christmas Tree. 

Our top tips when choosing your tree this year:

  1. Rather than buying an imported tree with a big carbon footprint, try choosing one that’s grown locally. The Forestry Commission has centres all over the UK with British grown trees. The cherry on top is all profits are reinvested back into maintaining forests for wildlife. 
  2. Rent a tree - Some great companies offer the option to hire out Christmas trees which can then be returned and planted back into the earth ready to be used the following year. Zero tree waste, plus you're supporting local businesses too.

2. Make your own sustainable decorations

This year, let's deck the halls with some sustainable cheer by saying goodbye to single use decorations and hello to creativity!

  1. Transform leftover wrapping paper, scrap paper or newspaper to make unique paper chains or Origami stars. 
  2. Speaking of stars, you can make beautiful twig stars with just some string and items you can find in your garden! 
  3. Add some citrus charm with these dried orange garlands. 
  4. Or get crafty with homemade salt dough decorations. 

For more sustainable holiday decoration ideas, check out our blog.

3. How about making your own Wreath? 

There’s plenty of beautiful gems hidden in our woods and parks. From holly and ivy to berries and pine cones, there are tons of great ideas online to show you how to do it. 

Top tip: Avoid plastic or metal hoop bases and use a natural hoop which you can buy from any local garden centre. Not only does it look fantastic but you could save a few pennies too.

4. Make your own Christmas crackers!

Instead of chucking out one-use crackers, which are often made of non-recyclable materials, try getting crafty and creating your own.

This easy guide shows you how to create unique crackers using spare materials like kitchen or toilet paper rolls and ribbon to add some DIY magic to your festive celebrations.

5. Create homemade festive cards

A meaningful message to your loved ones is what the festive season is all about. Why not go even further and make your own hand crafted cards. 

Old newspapers and magazines are ideal for making a festive collage. Or kick off the new year with plantable cards using seed paper. They make a fantastic eco-friendly alternative to traditional Christmas cards - embedded with wildflower seeds, they can then be ripped up, popped in some soil, and will begin to grow in just a couple of weeks.

6. Choose thoughtful gifts

Spread joy without the environmental toll. Support local, shop second-hand, plant a tree, or gift experiences. For a full list of our favourite gift ideas, see our 2023 gift guide

Get creative with homemade goodies like jam and pickled veggies - You can find some fabulous recipes on our site. 

Speaking of fruity gifts, try making lemon candles, it's as simple as hollowing out a lemon, boiling wax and adding lemon oil and a wick! 

Not your style? Have a crack at simmering potpourri or DIY body scrub. Let's make this season sustainable and full of love.

7. Make your own zero waste festive paper

  1. Turn fancy fabric into DIY wrapping - Repurpose a colourful pillowcase, tea towel or clothes you don’t use anymore to make into wrapping. Check out Furoshiki – the Japanese art of fabric origami – using unwanted textiles.
  2. Upcycle packing paper - If you’re ordering presents online, you might end up with metres of packing paper that comes stuffed in your parcels. Use the paper to wrap presents then decorate with foraged goods like pine cones, holly, twigs or fresh rosemary and flowers, all of which can be recycled or composted afterwards.
  3. Newspapers, magazines, old maps - Use the colourful pages of an old magazine, go retro with the weekend paper or tear apart an old road atlas you don’t need anymore. 
  4. Crisp packets? - Yep, save up your empty crisp packets and turn them inside out for some festive sparkle (clean them well first of course!).
  5. Reuse cardboard boxes - If you’re shopping online, no doubt you’ll have boxes of all sizes arriving at your door. Rather than recycle them, why not upcycle them into gift boxes.
  6. Canvas bags - Reusable canvas bags are super-useful and can double up as wrapping and a gift all-in-one. Use them to wrap a gift, which your loved one can then use for years to avoid using plastic bags.               

Top tip: Paper tape is biodegradable and 100% recyclable, this makes it the ideal  environmentally-friendly alternative to standard packing tape. 

8. Prep your zero waste feast

Worried that your zero-waste game will be derailed by the festive season? Have no fear because we have some time tips to keep you minimising food waste over the holidays. 

1. Embrace the beauty of freezing prepped veggies – did you know you can cook homemade roasties and other Christmas delights straight from frozen?

2. Keep the holiday menu simple and ensure fridge, cupboard, and freezer space for stress-free Christmas prep! 

3. Give leftovers a second chance with these recipes using leftover roast veg. Who could turn their nose to a Brussels sprout toastie or root veg toad in the hole? 

4. For dinner parties and family feasts, ask guests to bring tupperware along so they can take leftovers to go. 

Have a look at our blog post here for more tips!

9. Cook a chest-NUT-roast

A delicious nut roast wrapped in red cabbage and stuffed with a combination of shallots, rainbow carrots, barley and lentils. This recipe from award-winning chef, climate change campaigner and author Tom Hunt is bound to get your Christmas taste buds singing with joy! 

See the full recipe: Chestnut Roast Recipe

10. Reduce waste after the holidays

That week between Christmas day and the New Year can sometimes stretch to an eternity as we struggle back to normality after the non-stop bustle and excitement of the last month. This year we’re making use of this quiet and peaceful time to declutter before we burst into a new year and, this time round, a new decade. Fancy joining us? Read on for our pointers on how to start the year with a clear home and mind. 

  1. Declutter ahead of the new year
  2. Learn what to do with your Christmas tree 
  3. Why not reuse your wrapping paper to play pass the parcel on boxing day. The holidays aren’t over yet. 
  4. Using dried fruit to make potpourri - Simply mix the fruit with spices and essential oils and then add it to a decorative bowl or jar in order to scent your home. You can also store any leftover dried fruit in an airtight container for future use or gift giving.​ There are many different scent combinations that you can try. Don’t be afraid to experiment!

11. December baking is sorted! 

Treat Santa to our festive Lemon and White Chocolate Chip Cookies. Each bite is a blissful combination of slight crispiness on the edges and a soft, gooey centre. Make memories with the whole family as you make and enjoy these tasty treats together! Check out the full recipe here.

Or keep it traditional with some classic gingerbread men cookies. Recipe linked here.

12. Love your leftovers

Do you find yourself surrounded by Christmas dinner leftovers? No worries! Say goodbye to food waste with a tasty plan for your festive leftovers. 

Dive into our blog post for five creative leftover Christmas dinner recipes and ideas. Let's turn those extras into delicious delights!

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Remember when we asked you to share your low-waste festive recipes? Well you didn’t let us down. From baking tips to leftover-risottos, zero-waste decorations to Boxing Day soups, you’ve created a jam-packed festive guide to help us all eat good and do good this December. Click here to get your free copy. And share your own tips with us on our social media channels or at community@oddbox.co.uk – who knows, you could feature in the sequel.

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