Once you’re decided on your Christmas tree, it’s time to get the decorations sorted!
Our #ChooseToReuse Christmas Decorations edition features a list of eco-friendly ideas for how you can add a touch of festive fancy to your tree and home this Christmas…
LED Christmas Lights
If you have yet to make the switch to LED Christmas lights, then now is the time to do it!
Why? Because LED (Light Emitting Diode) lights use up to 90% less energy than traditional incandescent lights and last up to 100,000 hours when used indoors.
As well as being kinder to the environment, LED lights are also kinder to your bank balance too. According to research from Which?*, using one string of LED lights on your tree for six hours per day over a two-month period would cost as little as 51p per day on average.
It goes without saying, the more lights you use and the longer that you use them for will use more energy and cost more money – so this is something to bear in mind when choosing how to light up your Christmas tree and/or other parts of your home.
*Worthy to note – the same Which? article also revealed that there are certain LED light settings which you can save on energy and costs, so it’s definitely worth a look!
Homemade Christmas Decorations
Homemade Christmas decorations are a great way to reduce waste, save money and spend some quality time getting creative.
Whether you’re crafting on your own, with friends or with family, DIY deccies are a fun activity for both adults and children alike!
There are so many different innovative decoration ideas available to explore online. Here are a few from us to get your creative juices flowing…
Cardboard Star Garland
Before you pop that cardboard box into the recycling, why not transform it into something that will add a bit of festive magic to your Christmas tree?
We tried this this cardboard star decoration from northpole.com and it did not disappoint!
The article advises to use the following supplies:
- Printable template (download here)*
- Cutting mat
- Cardboard, plus extra to protect painting surface
- Gold spray paint***
- Fishing line (or other clear string)****
- Optional: hot glue gun & glue sticks
*Instead of the helpful printable template supplied in the source article, we cheated and used a star holepunch – these are available to buy at craft and stationery stores or online.
**X-Acto is just a brand of craft knife recommended by the source article. You can use any craft knife you like. Just make sure your blade is sharp and that you have some spares if you plan to make loads of stars, as blades can become blunted if overused.
***Instead of gold spray paint, we opted to use gold acrylic paint and a small artist brush to cut down our use of aerosols. If you do opt for spray paint, just be sure to recycle it at your local Household Waste Recycling Centre (or, if you live in St Helens, you can place empty aerosols into your white bag which gets collected from home). Also worthy to note is that although acrylic paint is deemed to be less harmful than lead-based or oil-based paints, there are alternatives out there that are friendlier for the environment (mainly and namely watercolours).
****Instead of fishing wire or other clear string, we opted for brown string. This is because we decided to use our cardboard stars to make a garland, rather than individual hanging decorations.
Aside from the above customisations to our supplies list, we followed the method as listed and ended up with the following carboard star chain…
Not a bad place to get us star-ted, on our DIY decoration journey, eh?
Salt Dough Christmas Tree Decorations
Making salt dough shapes is not only a great way to create customisable ornaments, but is a fun, cost-cutting activity for people of all ages!
Salt dough is made using only three ingredients – plain flour, salt and water.
It takes 10 minutes to prepare and once the dough mixture is made up, you can use it to make whatever shapes you desire!
You could make a homemade paper template (such as a star or Christmas tree shape) and a craft knife to cut around – although, using cookie cutters is a less time-consuming method. Christmas-themed cookie cutters are available to buy in various stores and online.
Once you have cut your dough and baked it – we baked ours at a low heat for three hours – it’s simply a case of allowing it to cool before painting the shapes to your liking.
We followed this simple recipe from BBC Good Food and ended up with the below Christmas decorations…
We opted to make smaller shapes, as we knew anything bigger may look a little over-bearing for our tiny Christmas tree.
We glued two of the same shape back-to-back to give each ornament extra sturdiness – we did this with a glue gun, gluing jewellery wire between each shape so we could use them as hanging ornaments for our tree.
If you have a larger tree (the tree we used is only 3-feet), then it may be worth thinking about making the shapes a little bigger, so that they don’t get lost in the aesthetic.
One last observation we thought worth sharing – we made too many shapes to fit in the oven when baking. The leftover shapes were subsequently put to one side. When we revisited them a few days later, they had solidified, so there was no need for us to bake them. This saved us time, as well as money on our energy bill!
Other Great DIY Christmas Decoration Ideas
Cardboard stars and salt dough shapes were just two DIY decorations we tried at home, with a little help from some friends. It was a fun way to socialise and although we’re sure that the legacy of great artists such as Da Vinci, Van Gogh and Turner will remain unthreatened by our work, we were all pleasantly surprised with the outcome of our efforts.
Here are some other ideas which we’re thinking of trying ourselves in future (and which may interest you too)…
Festive DIY Toilet Roll Tube Crafts
The humble toilet roll tube is one of the best everyday items you can use to make Christmas decorations… It’s amazing how these usually dull and grey objects can be customised and upcycled into something festive for your home.
Whether you’re opting for something simple or elaborate, here are some ideas to get your creative juices flowing…
Just remember, if you opt to create a toilet roll tube decoration which uses glitter or plastic, then these items can’t be placed in your kerbside recycling collections. The best thing to do would be to keep them safe to be reused next year. However, if they get a little tatty and can’t be reused, then place them in your residual waste bin at home.
Santa Claus in a Chimney
Kicking off our DIY toilet roll tube crafts is this simple yet effective Santa Clause decoration from survivingateacherssalary.com…
As stated on the website, “this adorable Santa Claus Toilet Paper Tube Christmas craft for kids is great for preschool and older kids! All you’ll need is a recycled toilet paper tube (or cut paper towel roll), red, black and white paint, and a red piece of card stock or construction paper”.
Visit here to find out more: https://www.survivingateacherssalary.com/santa-claus-toilet-paper-tube-christmas-craft-for-kids/.
Cut-Out Christmas Trees
Originally shared during the height of the pandemic back in 2020, this cut-out Christmas Tree decoration from Coley Kuyper Art can be made as an individual ornament for your mantle piece – or as part of a collection (or “forest”, as the article states).
Items you’ll need to create your toilet roll Christmas Trees include:
– Empty toilet roll tubes and/or kitchen roll tubes
– A marker or pencil for sketching tree shapes
– Craft paint of choice
Visit here to find out how you can make your own cut-out Christmas Trees at home: https://coleykuyperart.com/blogs/blog/diy-toilet-paper-roll-christmas-tree-forrest.
What would Christmas be without Santa’s little helpers?
This next DIY toilet roll tube craft from A Mom’s Impression is a tribute to elves and uses the following supplies:
- Toilet Paper Tubes
- Glitter Foam Sheet*
- Pom Poms
- Glitter Tape*
- Paint Markers
*Instead of glitter foam sheets and glitter tape, a more-environmentally friendly way to add colour would be to use watercolour paints.
Find out how you can make your own Christmas Elf toilet roll tube decorations at home here: https://amomsimpression.com/easy-kids-christmas-crafts/.
Eco-Friendly Christmas Crackers
While Christmas crackers are a well-loved tradition for a lot of people, the reality is that the cheap and easy-to-buy nature of these snap-tastic festive table decorations means that they are highly wasteful.
According to research from BusinessWaste.co.uk, it’s estimated that over 40 million Christmas crackers end up in the bin on Christmas day – furthermore, a survey found that 99% of individuals throw their Christmas cracker gift in the bin at the end of the day!
Aside from that, crackers usually contain foil, glitter or plastic which means they cannot be recycled after use.
However, there are a range of eco-friendly Christmas cracker options available to purchase in various stores and online. Eco-friendly Christmas crackers are often made from 100% recycled paper or reusable fabric.
Or, if you’re feeling extra adventurous, you can have a go at making some yourself! Check out the below two-minute craft from Diane in Denmark. This simple method allows you to reuse items such as toilet / kitchen roll inners and scraps of Christmas gift wrap. It’s easy to make, fun for kids and zero waste… What’s not to love?
Reusable Advent Calendars
What makes being a day closer to Christmas even more exciting? Getting a little treat for your troubles along the way!
Fun for both children and adults, Advent calendars are a great way to count down to Christmas Day.
BUT… Just like the previously covered topic of Christmas crackers, they can be highly wasteful due to their disposable nature and the levels of packaging that they contain.
According to research from BusinessWaste.co.uk, around 5 million advent calendars contain single-use plastics – furthermore, advent calendars have around 38 times as much packaging per gram of chocolate compared to a standard chocolate bar.
This level of waste is a huge contributor towards climate change. Thankfully, though, there is a way we can tackle this… By choosing a reusable Advent calendar!
Available via a range of local, high street and online retailers, reusable advent calendars are easy enough to buy… But also fun to make!
There are plenty of different ideas you can try listed on Pinterest, as well as a range of online tutorials. You can even buy DIY reusable Advent calendar kits if you don’t already have the required materials at home.
Once your reusable Advent calendar is in place, you can fill with whatever prizes you wish. Life Before Plastic has a great range of ideas including:
- Small toys and trinkets
- Handwritten notes or inspirational quotes
- Eco-friendly treats like FairTrade chocolates or organic sweets
- Mini skincare or beauty products
- Craft supplies for DIY holiday decorations
- Sustainable and reusable items like bamboo toothbrushes or reusable shopping bags
Natural Christmas Wreaths
Creating your own Christmas wreath is a great way to make use of natural resources lying around in your garden or local park.
Woodland Trust’s Foraging for Natural Christmas Decorations guide is a good reference point for finding out what to collect and where.
As well as offering top guidance on materials, they also have this handy tutorial on how you can make your natural Christmas wreath at home…
This blog forms part of our #ChooseToReuse series. Please note, with the exception of MRWA-published documents, external links featured within this article are not officially endorsed by MRWA and are for reference and information purposes only.