While it’s one of my favourite times of the year, Christmas can definitely take its toll on the environment.
Not to be too doom-and-gloom about it, but Aussies waste more food in December than any other month of the year, almost 80 per cent of us receive pressies we don’t want (with 14 per cent of us chucking these straight away), and our bins erupt with a continuous flow of packaging and wrapping paper.
Thankfully there’s lots we can do to lighten the load!
One way that promises festive fun for the whole family is to go down the DIY route with decorations, using recycled and repurposed materials along the way.
For the tree...
Kids will love helping to create their very own decorations for the Christmas tree. These personalised crafts can be used year after year and will make for treasured mementos down the line.
To make a garland to drape around the tree, grab some old newspaper and scraps of wrapping paper. Cut the paper into strips a few centimetres wide and help your littlie create a string of interlocking circles, secured with glue or a stapler.
Cut cardboard stars and circles out of old cereal boxes and you have the perfect blank canvasses to draw or paint Christmassy scenes to hang on the tree (punch a hole in the tops and tie onto the branches with ribbon). If you’ve kept old Christmas cards, you can also help your tot cut shapes and pictures out of these and hang as-is.
Plastic bottle caps can’t be popped in your recycling bin, but they’re certainly handy in your family’s craft or odds-and-ends box! Coated in glue and glitter they make cute little baubles (carefully use a thick needle and strong thread to make a loop to hang them) or stringing three white bottle caps together, you can even make dangling snowmen. You can use them to make 3-D Christmas shapes on cardboard backing, too.
A really lovely way to jazz up the tree is with family photos. In my house, we use the shiny side of old CDs to add a bit of sparkle, stick our favourite photos in the centre and hang them proudly.
Salt dough is super-easy to make and a whole lot of fun for kids to shape. Simply mix 2 cups of flour, 1 cup of salt and 1 cup of warm water to form a dough, and knead well. Use shape cutters and your hands to make any kind of decorations your hearts fancy, poke a hole near the top of each, then bake at 100˚C until hard. Paint, let dry, then hang with ribbon.
For the table...
It can be simple to set the table in sustainable style!
A cracking idea
Another of my family’s fun traditions is making our own Christmas crackers using the cardboard tubes from paper towel and cling film rolls. Simply cut the tubes down to size, throw in lollies or other treats, plus a hand-written joke, and wrap in some recycled Christmas paper. Ta-da!
It doesn’t get easier than this: collect photo frames from around the house and, just for the day, replace the pictures with the fronts of old Christmas cards or the kids’ festive artwork. Scatter them around the table.
Put a lid on it
If you don’t have a lot of photo frames, you can slide pictures into glass or plastic jars and use these on the table instead. Jars are also great filled with candy canes, baubles and other seasonal decorations.
Keep your table decorations simple by featuring some bright blooms of native Christmas bush and other outdoor finds, such as pine cones, with or without a dash of painted colour.
This article originally appeared on New Idea