9 Tips for a Sustainable, Minimalist Christmas

by Delala

Christmas is one of the least sustainable and least minimalist times of the year.

If you want to have a minimalist Christmas, I’ll share my tips on how to do it so it’s more sustainable.

Even if you exchange gifts and decorate for the holiday, you can have a sustainable Christmas even when everyone else is doing the opposite.

We never celebrated Christmas in a big way in my family so we don’t do extensive gift giving or Christmas dinners.

But I’ll share with you what I’ve learned from others on how to have a Christmas without overconsuming.

Homemade gift

1. Make a wish list

Make a wish list for yourself about what you’d like to receive. Share the list with family and friends so you receive things you can use.

Share the list on your social media so everyone can have access to it and you can explain your point of view and why you are doing this.

Explain that you care about the planet and that you are preserving our planet is the best gift to all of us.

Reading on couch

2. Ask for clutter-free items

Put things that you need on a wish list, like an investment or even a small thing like a new set of coloring pencils, or a new appliance. These types of items will not clutter your home.

Look at your possessions and see what you need to have replaced. If you don’t need anything, ask for consumables, like cruelty-free and package-free shower or beauty products, local food or baked goods, or homemade items.

Books are great to give and receive–you can get it as an ebook so it doesn’t gather dust. You can also give a gift card to a bookstore to family and friends as a thoughtful gift.

3. Gift cards

Usually, I think gift cards are not very personal or fun to give as gifts. But they can be really nice for the person getting them because they can choose what they like and are very useful.

4. Plants

Flowers can be wasteful since they go bad in a week or two. But plants keep growing for a year or two if you take care of them. They are great gifts.

5. Experiences

Ask for time with friends and family like having tea together somewhere or a beach day or a hot air balloon trip.

6. Donations

Ask people to give donations as a gift. Greenpeace offers this gift idea in the Netherlands. You can give someone a card that says you’ve donated on their behalf.

Or, if you want to give a donation on behalf of someone, ask them where they’d like it to go. Opt for smaller charities where the money is likely to go to good use.

I’m not buying anything for myself or giving right now so I donated to an animal shelter that is financially struggling.

Sustainable gift wrap

7. Gift wrapping

Gift wrap is usually made of plastic and it looks nice and shiny but it can be very wasteful. There's a lot of waste created every year and it’s easy to prevent.

Some suggestions for sustainable gift wrap include wrapping with brown paper and rope, embellishing with branches, dried fruits, and cinnamon sticks, and writing pretty messages on the paper.

You can also reuse beautiful paper, pretty posters, or DIY your own wrapping paper made from junk paper as a collage. Use a fabric tote bag that’s reusable or a nice piece of fabric that can be used as a remnant.

Christmas tree
Christmas wreath
Dried oranges

8. Decorations

I used to love Christmas decorations. But I realized how weird of an idea it is to put up a plastic fake tree with fake shimmery colorful balls and call that beautiful. It doesn’t make sense to me anymore.

You probably already have plenty of decorations. If you need more, the thrift stores are usually filled with them.

People want a new theme every year and replace perfectly good decorations with new items. So these items end up in the thrift stores. Or make your own decorations with natural items like dried orange slices and twigs from outdoors.

Made with love tag

9. Food

It’s common to overdo it on food during the holidays. With all the abundance, there’s still so much waste. It’s also disrespectful to overindulge and waste food when so many people in the world don’t have enough to eat.

It’s awkward to bring this up in family settings so I don’t suggest arguing about this at all. Just be mindful of yourself. Watch your own portion control. If you need to bring a dish to an event to share with everyone, maybe bring something vegan or vegetarian.

Make sure the food isn’t thrown away after the dinner. Instead of tossing leftovers, eat them the next day, freeze them, or share with guests as they are leaving.

Minimalist Christmas

That’s how to have a minimalist and sustainable Christmas. The bottom line is to just have a mindful approach to the holidays in any way you can control without upsetting anyone along the way.

Don’t stress about it and don’t let the media put pressure on you with their perfect images and messages to have this big happy, loving family holiday.

Just make sure you are there enjoying the core values of Christmas, such as being together, sharing a good meal, and loving each other. Forget the extra commercial extras.

Let me know how you will have a minimalist Christmas this year. Share in the comment section so we can all learn together.

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