Prepare for a Greener Christmas

Looking to be greener and less wasteful this Christmas? Even the Queen is said to reuse wrapping paper and ribbons, so there are many things we can all do…. Here’s a whole range of ideas from very small to much bigger.

~ Decorations ~

Use what you already have!

  • Already have an artificial tree? Use it as long as possible!
  • If you do need a few more bits, ask your family if they have spares, check out the charity shops and buy second-hand, or make your own…

Create your own decorations

**Start now** save your waste paper, cans, jars, loo rolls and cardboard now to use for your creations!

  • Look in charity shops and your local scrapstore (Orinoco in Oxford) for more resources.
  • There are lots of ideas online, here is one selection.

Make your own advent calendar or invest in a re-usable one

  • Make something unique! You may be surprised just how many ways you can make one – recycle some old card, coloured envelopes, wood or fabric – some ideas here.

~ Buying Gifts ~

Get what they need

**Start now** find out what your family and friends really need!

  • Consider gift vouchers or cash so you don’t give gifts that go to waste.

Quality over quantity

  • Resist the plastic stocking-fillers and multiple cheap gifts – try to focus your spending into fewer, higher-quality items that will last.
  • For kids who have everything – try a “one-gift” policy, or a family “Secret Santa” buying one thing each.

Make gifts

  • Not very crafty? Try home made things from your kitchen: jams and marmalade, sauces and dips, pesto, oils with added herbs, vegan parmesan, baking mixes, chocolate, or home-made cosmetics.


  • Try swapping things you no longer need for things you do with friends, neighbours, or at a community swap shop such as this one for children’s toys and books in Abingdon, 27th Nov 2021.

Gift zero-waste to inspire your friends

  • Re-usable cups and water bottles, bars of soap and shampoo, cleaning products, plant cuttings… You can even support environmental charities when you buy them e.g. Surfers Against Sewage.

Avoid “things” altogether – gift experiences instead

  • Your loved ones might appreciate theatre tickets, arts or cookery courses, repair courses, getting out into nature, or other experiences. There are lots of options in Oxford.
  • Consider sponsorship for a tree or animal via environmental charities.

Buying new?

  • Avoid excessive packaging – you could pack smaller items into your own reusable or recycled wrapping – selection boxes are a great example.
  • Support environmental charities – e.g. Sustrans sell lots of cycling items in their online store.
  • Support local businesses and find local products.
  • Look for fair trade and sustainability.

~ Receiving Gifts ~

**Start now** Think about what you really need and let your friends and family know – they’ll appreciate the ideas, and you’ll get less of things you didn’t need!

Don’t need/want anything? Request “no gifts”

  • Tell people you’re trying to be greener!
  • You could ask for donations to a good cause as an alternative.

~ Wrapping ~


  • Save brown paper bags, newspapers, magazines and calendars
  • Newspaper or magazine picture pages make particularly good eco-wrapping, but any pages will do!
  • Spruce it up with some foraged items

Reusable wrapping

  • Invest in some fabric for family gifts – tie it with string, ribbons or rubber bands (or tie it up as a furoshiki), and re-use it year after year.

Heather says….
My mum made lots of different sized pieces and all our presents would be wrapped in material and held together with ribbons, rubber bands and safety pins (all re-usable!) It is the only Christmas wrapping that I remember having!

Freya says…
I sewed bags for presents some years ago and my friends are still using them, for example, as sponge bag, or as produce bags for zero-waste shopping.

Don’t wrap?

  • For larger items consider using a ribbon or other minimal wrapping rather than huge quantities of new paper – if you do wrap make sure to keep the paper as it can be used again and again!

Prepare for next year

  • Keep those pretty cards to make gift tags, advent calendars and other decorations
  • Save your used wrapping paper instead of throwing it away – use it for decorations next year or just use it again (no one will even notice!)
  • Keep your calendars at the end of the year and use them for wrapping next year (including birthdays!)

~ Tableware ~

Use the tableware you already have

  • Think before you buy those tempting Christmas plates, tea towels, table covers that will sit in the cupboard for 11 months of the year.

Consider renting if you need extra glasses/tableware

  • Avoid single-use plastic for your large gatherings
  • You can rent tableware from some large supermarkets and local company Witney Eco Party Packs
  • You can rent other items for entertaining from us at the Library of Things!

~ Food ~

Cut down on meat

  • Give your guests a veggie treat – there’s lots of inspiration online for tasty and Christmassy meat-free food, e.g. from the vegan society.

Buy unwrapped, local and organic if you can

  • Check out the regular Oxford or Oxfordshire Farmers’ Markets or try ordering an organic veg box.
  • Try your local Zero Waste Shop – take your containers and fill up on all sorts of household items and foods.

Need more tips?

Here are even more green Christmas ideas!

Trying something different this year? Whether big or small, we’d love to hear your stories! Contact us!

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