Want to spread the holiday cheer around your home without resorting to poorly made plastic decorations? Check out this post for thoughtful eco-friendly holiday decor ideas!
The time has come to deck the halls with boughs of holly – possibly. Maybe. Depending on who you are. It seems people are pretty split – I’ve seen a bunch of people decorating earlier and earlier (cause you know, we need some joy in the midst of COVID). And others holding fast and insisting no Christmas or Hannukah stuff til after Thanksgiving.
Where do you fall? Is it still all turkeys and pumpkins with you? Or the more holidays the merrier? Let me know below.
Personally, I’ve tried to strike a middle ground. I still have Fall things up, including a pumpkin pie slice bunting especially for Thanksgiving. But I’ve also snuck in a couple of Christmas-y things, like tree-shaped candles. Nothing too over-the-top Christmas-y, but a little extra festive.
But watch out – by the end of this week we’ll have our tree, and the decorating will well and truly begin. Last year was our first Christmas in this house, and our first one staying home instead of visiting parents (thanks COVID), so it was the first year I really tried to go all-out decorating.
And I quickly became frustrated not just at the cost, but also that so much of what’s available for holiday decor is plastic and poorly made. I didn’t want to blow my budget on stuff I wouldn’t even like the next year because it just looked tacky.
While I did buy some holiday decor, and I’ll buy a few more things this year, I ultimately went more of the homemade route, opting for natural materials that just feel more cozy. Not only did I wind up with more eco-friendly holiday decor ideas, I saved money by making many myself.
Below, find some of eco-friendly holiday decors ideas I implemented last year, plus more I hope to try this year. Holiday decorating can be beautiful and festive while still being eco-friendly, low-waste, and wallet-conscious!
Let’s start with the big one: the Tree.
Unfortunately, there really isn’t an easy option here – while you save money and convenience with an artificial tree, it will invariably be made of plastic. And, even if you keep it for years, it will still eventually wind up in a landfill. Real trees are more expensive – and many still wind up in landfills.
We opt for the real tree. Beyond loving the smell of the fresh tree and the trip to the Christmas tree farm, it’s the most eco-friendly decor idea for us for a couple reasons. 1. Christmas tree farms help the environment. They keep land open for the ecosystem, cleaning the air and providing wildlife habitats and watersheds, rather than being turned into more housing developments. And 2. we chop up our tree when it’s done decorating our house and use it in the bottom of a hugelkultur garden bed. If you’re not planning to build any new garden beds this coming year, you can also compost a real tree.
Decorate the tree with natural materials
Rather than buying a bunch of plastic ornaments that can break, or ones that you’ll decide you don’t like in a year and want to replace, opt for homemade ornaments or ones made with more natural materials.
You can dehydrate oranges to create ornaments with a lovely stained glass effect. Salt dough ornaments are a fun project to do with kids – and with the addition of spices or essential oils, they smell lovely.
You can also collect pine cones while on a walk, cut out paper snowflakes to hang, or even reuse old photographs.
Or raid the kitchen to make a popcorn and cranberry garland
Beyond the ornaments and lights, you’ll want some sort of tinsel or garland for your tree. Rather than the shiny plastic stuff that sheds, make a homemade garland by stringing popcorn and cranberries using a needle and twine. Bonus: Christmas colors!
Bring the outside in with wreaths and garlands
My next eco-friendly holiday decor idea is, again, to opt for the real stuff over the artificial when it comes to wreaths and garlands. You can make it yourself to save money or it buy it from a local farm to support a small business.
Plus, they last surprisingly long. We left last year’s wreath up on the door until it had dried to a lovely bronze color. Then I brought it back out this year as a fall wreath.
Suggestion: Incorporate fresh herbs into your wreath so it smells even better!
Use LED lights instead of incandescents
LED lights are more energy efficient and last longer/are loss prone to breaking.
Make stockings out of an old sweater
If you have some basic sewing skills, you can close the loop on an old or damaged sweater by upcycling it into a stocking rather than throwing it away. Check out this tutorial from Lisa at Farmhouse on Boone to learn how!
Grow your decor with amaryllis or paperwhites
This is a great eco-friendly decor idea for the gardeners. In the winter when our gardens are dormant, grow inside with amaryllis or paperwhite bulbs. Many stockists even have suggested growing instructions so you can time your bulbs to bloom for Christmas.
Likewise, snag a potted poinsettia for more natural decor!
Buy your holiday decor secondhand
Finally, if you’re sourcing places to buy eco-friendly holiday decor, opt for a thrift shop. You can support a local business without adding to the massive amounts of waste produced every holiday season.
If you’re looking to refresh your decor scheme but still have perfectly good decorations, set up a decor and cookie swap party with some friends!
And don’t forget to consider eco-friendly or low-waste options for the holidays beyond the decor. Opt for real dinnerware rather than paper and plastic and look for recyclable gift wrap options, like craft paper.
Whether you’ve begun decorating yet or not, I hope these eco-friendly holiday decor ideas help you be more intentional about how you bring the cheer of the season into your home. Let me know in the comments which of these ideas you plan to try – or if you have another eco-friendly holiday decor idea to share!