The festive season can be all about excess, from jam-packed calendars filled with catch-ups galore, centred around indulging and celebrating, to piles of presents and enough spending to make your bank account weep. But by making some small tweaks to how you do things this year, you can have an eco-friendly Christmas season that’s still filled with plenty of joy and good times. Here are some small sustainable swaps to make:

Bring a plate—and a container

It’s not uncommon to get everyone to bring a dish of some kind to share at a festive gathering, and while it helps share the load of the cooking and prep work, it very often leads to ample leftovers. Discarded food is one of the biggest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions, so reducing your food waste can go a long way to lowering your impact on the planet. Once everyone has eaten and you’re packing up, distribute the leftovers to whoever would like to eat them. Either send them home with people in the dish they brought themselves, or get everyone to bring along a container destined for take-home goodies. And while it can be tempting to use disposable cutlery and plates to make the clean up much easier, stick with the reusable kind. Just make sure you’re celebrating at someone’s house with a dishwasher to make that aftermath a touch easier. 

Give them something to do

As well as stocking up on toilet paper and learning to make sourdough, something people did in droves during the global pandemic was to declutter. The main takeaway? Most people want less stuff in their life. So instead of gifting things this year, why not gift experiences? From a massage at a day spa, to a wine tour, hot air ballooning, a degustation dinner, a night away, an animal encounter, or a class where they can learn something new, you can find a voucher for just about anything these days.

Shop local

Don’t just think about what you’re buying, but also where you’re buying it from. By buying from local businesses, you’re likely reducing your carbon footprint by cutting down on the distance your goods need to travel. You can either buy physical goods from a local maker or creative, or buy a gift voucher for a nearby business. With so many businesses also doing it tough over the past couple of years, your purchase will also make a small business owner very happy. 

Get crafty with your wrapping

Once you have your gifts, think about how you wrap them. Discarded wrapping paper can quickly amount to a huge amount of waste, and given most of it contains glitter or plastic coating, it’s not recyclable. But there are plenty of other ways to wrap a gift—and for it to still look great. Now is the time to tuck into that collection of old wrapping paper, ribbons or gift bags and give them another life. Otherwise reuse newspaper or magazines as wrapping paper, and tie it up with twine for a lovely rustic look. Or you could try your hand at Furoshiki, the traditional art of Japanese fabric wrapping.