By Daniela Frendo 

Christmas holidays are meant to be relaxing, but let’s be honest; this time of year can also be pretty demanding.

The holiday season often brings with it long hours of gift wrapping, financial burdens and more leftover food than your fridge can handle. The good news is there are plenty of ways to cut costs without missing out on the festive spirit.

By buying less and saving more this holiday, you’re not only leaving more cash in your pocket, but you’ll also be contributing to a more sustainable environment. Here are some ideas how you can have a green Christmas on the cheap this year.

green christmas
Christmas treats. Photo courtesy of Suslik1983 via Shutterstock

1. Buy Fair Trade Sweets…Or Bake Your Own!

Instead of buying chocolate assortments by major brands, look for Fair Trade sweets. These normally cost less than popular labels and come wrapped in recycled packaging. This ethical choice supports the lives of cocoa farmers around the world.

Alternatively, you can bake your own Christmas treats, saving on costs and reducing packaging waste. Homemade biscuits and cakes also make thoughtful Christmas gifts, and you can present them in recycled boxes with your own personal touch.

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Christmas tree with LED light bulbs. Photo courtesy of Checubus via Shutterstock

2. Use LED lights

Energy-efficient LED lighting can save you up to 95% on power costs. LED bulbs also last longer than traditional incandescent ones. Shop for decorative lights that have an ENERGY STAR seal, which is a certification that shows that the product meets the energy efficiency guidelines set by the US Environmental Protection Agency.

Remember that besides reducing electricity costs, you are saving more energy and therefore contributing to less greenhouse gas emissions. Another way of lowering the impact of Christmas lighting is to use timers so that you never forget the lights on during the day or at bedtime.

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Handmade decorations. Photo courtesy of Africa Studio via Shutterstock

3. Create Your Own Decorations & Cards

Before buying new Christmas decorations, go through your cupboards and cabinets. It’s amazing how many bits and pieces you’ll find lying around that can be used as decorations. Jars, tins and jewelry boxes are just a few ideas. Getting creative with Christmas decorations is also a good way of spending some quality time with your family. Another bonding activity would be scouting for natural decorations, such as pine cones, broken tree branches and seashells.

While searching the house for potential decorations, gather loose buttons, pieces of fabric and any other bobs that would look great on personalized cards. Making your own Christmas cards can be time-consuming, but they will carry more meaning than commercial ones.

If you’re feeling uninspired, look for Christmas craft ideas on Pinterest. We like this one, this one and this one.

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Photo courtesy of Shvaygert Ekaterina via Shutterstock

4. Buy A Real, Locally-Grown Tree

While artificial trees can be reused year after year, large amounts of fossil fuels and PVC are used in their production. Choosing a live tree can also raise some ethical issues regarding sustainability, but you can always replant the tree in the garden or turn it into mulch once the holidays are over. If possible, go for locally-grown trees to save on transportation and reduce air pollution.

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Photo courtesy of Arina P Habich via Shutterstock

5. Recycle Gift Wrappers

It’s very tempting to throw away every scrap of used wrapping paper, but you can use the same wrappers for future gifts by trimming the edges and ironing out the creases. Besides reusing gift wrappers, you can also buy recycled brown paper and liven it up with your own designs and patterns.

What other eco-friendly measures do you follow at Christmastime? 

Christmas Ideas & Inspiration

Daniela Frendo

Daniela Frendo is a travel writer and photographer from Malta. No matter how often she travels, she keeps breaking out in cold sweats at boarding gates. She is terrified of flying, but willing to try out stomach-churning delicacies wherever she goes. Her trips aren’t complete without doing a bit of trekking, experiencing local culture and getting a souvenir t-shirt.She has a degree in Communications and divides her time between teaching English and writing for different publications, including her own travel blog

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