In this post: We share ideas for more sustainable Christmas decor.
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Christmas can be a magical holiday but it can also be one with more waste than we realize. Between wrapping paper, decorations, and gifts, individual consumption goes through the roof for many of us.
The good news, however, is that with just a little thought and pre-planning, it’s possible to make your Christmas a little less wasteful and perhaps just a little simpler, too. One place to start is by considering more sustainable Christmas decor. A little investigation into what you’re using to decorate can help you make smarter and more sustainable decorating decisions. And even better, we’ve done a lot of the investigation for you! Here are some of our top ideas for more eco-friendly Christmas decor – click on images or pink text for more information on each item.
Ideas for more sustainable Christmas decor
Sustainable Christmas decor materials
A great place to start in creating a more sustainable holiday is in considering the materials that your decorations are made of. Using natural fibers like cotton, wool, and linen is a great place to start – all the better if they’ve received a 3rd party sustainability certification.
For a more economical and longer-lasting Christmas garland, consider these gorgeous felt options. The felt is made in the USA from Eco-fi®, a polyester fiber produced from 100% recycled plastic drinking bottles. Available in many shape and color combinations including:
Garlands are available in a variety of lengths and color combinations.
If you're looking for some new decor for your Christmas tree, Ornaments 4 Orphans is a great shop to check out. Not only are the ornaments very cool and high quality, but they are a member of the Fair Trade Federation. Every purchase supports vulnerable children across the globe.
Some of our favorites include:
Upcycled and recycled decorations
Looking for upcycled holiday decorations is one of the most fun ways to find unique items for your home. It’s amazing to see how creative people can be when it comes to creating something new from something discarded. Plus, reusing things that already exist is one of the best ways to dial up your sustainable Christmas decor.
It's amazing the number of ways that books can be upcycled! Turning them into unique Christmas garland is one of our favorites. There are so many ways these can be used to add a little holiday cheer on a tree, window, mantle, and many more.
There were so many variations, we had to pick just a few of our favorites, including:
There's nothing like glass ornaments to create a classic holiday look. These vintage-looking glass ornaments are actually recycled glass that's been given new life for the holidays. Among other styles, these are available in pastel or mercury glass.
Each ball measures size 8 × 8 × 7 cm and are available in quite a few other shapes and sizes. Check them out!
Natural wreaths and garlands
Using fresh greenery like pine branches, holly, or eucalyptus can be a fun way to DIY wreaths and garlands – and there are also plenty of pre-made options available, too. The great news is they can be composted after the holidays so you’re not creating any additional waste.
Pomegranates bring a unique charm to Christmas decor with their rich, jewel-like appearance. It turns out that pomegranates have historical and cultural significance, too. Throughout history, they have served as symbols of abundance, fertility, and prosperity.
Consider using fresh or dried pomegranates in wreaths, table centerpieces, or garlands for a touch of elegance and a reminder of the bountiful joys of the Christmas season.
While they were once considered primarily a part of holiday decor in the south, magnolia leaves have moved mainstream and are now enjoyed across the country. This combination of magnolia leavers, pine, and eucalyptus from TheGreeneryGuy would be a knock-out way to adorn a mantle or railing.
This particular arrangement is available in 5-15 ft lengths, along with many sizes in between. The seller also offers a number of other evergreen combinations so there's sure to be something that suits your tastes.
Including dried oranges in your Christmas decor is a great way to bring rustic charm to your home. Plus they're a more sustainable choice since they are made of a renewable material and are ultimately compostable.
If you're crafty, these are something you can make with your own oranges. If it's not your year for DIY, check out Thorny Rose Primatives which has an assortment of great dried orange decor.
This wreath is so versatile and well-priced. ($29 as of the publishing of this post) It's really beautiful as is but could also be a base for you to add your own personal touches like berries, pinecones, ornaments, or whatever else you love. It's handmade of fresh pine and is suitable for use both in and outdoors.
There are so many ways these mini wreaths could brighten your holiday decor. They'd look great as window decorations, on kitchen cabinets, or as an arrangement on a wall.
Each ranges between 5″ to 8″ in size and are made from branches foraged from forests in Belgium. They're available in sets of 5 with the ribbon color customized based on your preferences.
One great thing about the winter holidays is that earlier sunsets mean more excuses to break out candles and create a cozy home vibe. There are tons of great, sustainable options that you can feel great about that use soy and beeswax and are designed to be friendlier to your indoor air quality.
The Dancing Wick candles make both great decorations and great gifts. Each candle is made of 100% soy wax, with a 100% cotton wick, and cosmetic grade fragrance or essential oils. All of this means that these burn more cleanly.
They're available in a variety of containers and scents to complete your holiday vision.
There are many reasons that beeswax is a sustainable candle-making material. First, beeswax is renewable and biodegradable – quite a contrast to paraffin candles that are derived from petroleum.
There are many beeswax candle makers but we love Bees Light Candles due to their commitment to supporting pollinators through organizations like the North American Pollinator Protection Campaign.
Plants make naturally sustainable Christmas decor
Since plants are renewable and biodegradable, they're a great way to bring sustainable Christmas decor to life. Whether it's a potted plant, a live Christmas tree, or evergreen branches, plants can be used for multiple holiday seasons and then either replanted or composted, minimizing waste. The versatility and sustainability of plants in holiday decor not only contribute to a greener, more eco-conscious celebration but also offer a unique, fresh approach to decorating for Christmas.
We love the assortment of holiday amaryllis from family-owned Blue Buddha Farm that are shipped as bulbs that you can watch bloom throughout the holiday season.
Whether they’re family heirlooms or something you find at an antique shop, using vintage Christmas decorations is a great way to work something a little different into your decor in a much more sustainable way.
If you don't currently have vintage decorations but love the look, Etsy can be a great place to find some unique items. Try our link, below.
LED lights and timers
If you are going the Clark Griswold route, look for LED lights as an option for more sustainable Christmas decor. LED lights are not only more energy efficient, but they also last longer and are safer than traditional lightbulbs. Plus, they're available in a variety of colors so there's bound to be something that suits your design scheme.
Timers are also great way to save energy…and relationships with your neighbors. Set your lights to come on only once it's dark and turn them off when people are less likely to be out and about to enjoy your display. Finally, be sure to recycle any non-functioning lights rather than just toss them in the garbage. (more info below)
FAQs about sustainable Christmas decorations
Are old Christmas lights recyclable?
Because toxic materials from light strands can leech into groundwater, it's important to dispose of old Christmas lights properly. Here are some things to keep in mind:
- If your lights are working, donating them to a local charitable organization or thrift shop is a great way to get rid of them responsibly. Keep in mind that it can be difficult for these organizations to sell off-season items so try to donate them at the beginning of the season.
- In the event that they are no longer working, try contacting your local recycling program to see if they'll take them – this varies by municipality.
- Many hardware stores will accept old lights for recycling. Ask at your local store as they may offer a discount on new lights if you recycle your old ones.
- Look online. Programs like Holiday LEDs will accept lights for recycling.
Why decorate for Christmas at all?
Isn't not decorating at all the most sustainable option? Yes, possibly but also not much fun. Some of the best parts of being alive on our beautiful planet include finding ways to celebrate with the people we love. We subscribe to the idea that if we can all be more thoughtful with what we actually need to make holidays festive, we can be a lot gentler on the planet with our celebrations.
With Christmas decorations as inexpensive as they can be these days, it can be tempting to pick up something cute without too much thought. The problem is that sometimes these trendy items go out as fast as they came in. Then you’re left with one more thing to store each year or, worse yet, toss in a dumpster.
One way to simplify your Christmas season is by focusing on fewer, higher quality, and more timeless pieces that you have more confidence you or someone else could use for years to come. This includes pieces that are well-made and that will store well from year to year.
Conclusion: ideas for sustainable Christmas decor
It can feel like there's a lot to think about in creating a more sustainable Christmas decor scheme. We hope these ideas help, but if all else fails, just remember the 3 r's: reduce, recuse, recycle. If you can achieve some holiday spirit with less decor, decor that's recycled or upcycled, and/or that you'll use again and again you're taking a giant step in the right direction.