An Eco-Friendly Guide to Christmas

Eco-friendly Christmas

For many people, Christmas is a favourite time of year. Giving gifts, spending time with friends and family, and enjoying decorations are all what makes Christmas time special. Unfortunately, Christmas can also be a wasteful time of year, between plastic packaging, wrapping paper, and all of that food.

This eco-friendly guide to Christmas will help you to navigate the holidays in a more sustainable way. Trying to do even one of these things is a step towards a more environmentally friendly Christmas. 

This Christmas, try to buy local, choose eco-friendly gifts, and think about the environment when you’re choosing decorations.

Buying local at Christmas

If at all possible, try to buy local this Christmas. If something can be bought at a local store or in a nearby town or city, try to make the trip to get it. Buying local helps to support the local economy and business owners, keeps people in your community in jobs, and reduces carbon emissions because packages won’t have to be shipped from far away. It also reduces the stress at Christmas time wondering if your package is going to arrive in such a busy period. 

This isn’t always a possibility for budget reasons, accessibility reasons, or because you don’t have the time, and that’s okay! If you have to buy online, do. Just take time to consider if you can get it locally instead before you click that button.

Eco-friendly Christmas gift ideas

Gift giving is one of my favourite things about Christmas, but it can also be the most stressful part. When we don’t know what to get someone, we can fall back on generic gifts that are usually cheap and packaged in lots of plastic. Try and choose an eco friendly gift instead.

Including gift receipts

Try to include a gift receipt with your present wherever they are available. As amazing as you think your gift may be, there’s always a chance they’ll need to exchange it. Gift receipts can help to ensure the person will end up with something they truly want or need.


Soap gift sets are popular at Christmas time, and are an easy thing to fall back on, especially for someone you don’t know too well. The problem with these gift sets is they are usually full of plastic within plastic, and the ingredients of the soaps are far from natural. Instead of the standard gift set, try to go for package free or plastic free soaps and bath products.

Lush offer a range of products that come with no packaging, including their ‘naked range‘ with shower gels that don’t come in bottles, shampoo bars, body conditioner, and of course, bath bombs. Outside of their naked range, Lush are a sustainable brand who use natural ingredients, so there’s really lots to choose from here.

If Lush isn’t your jam, try to find some nice bars of soap that come in paper packaging that can be recycled. Take a look at the ingredients too and make sure there’s no palm oil, which can cause devastation to the environment.

Food and drink products

The way we consume food and drinks can have a huge impact on the environment. Whether it’s how we buy our food, how we store it, what type of cup or bottle we’re drinking from, or if we’re getting food to go, every choice we make has a direct impact on the environment. Small steps can go a long way, and there are plenty of gifts you can give to help others make more environmentally friendly choices.

Here are some things to look out for – just make sure it’s something they need and not something they already own, because otherwise it will go to waste:

– Reusable coffee cups like a KeepCup or a collapsible StoJo cup
– Reusable straws
– Reusable water bottles (S’well and Chilly’s bottles are popular)
Beeswrap for keeping food fresh 
– Reusable travel cutlery that can fit in a bag or pocket for eating on the go

Read more about Beeswrap, reusing coffee cups, and more here: 4 simple ways to reduce and reuse

Read: Why you should buy a reusable coffee cup

Tote bags

Encourage people to use their own bags more often by getting someone a reusable shopping bag or a tote bag that can be taken to the shops or the supermarket. Make it something nice that they will love to bring and they’re less likely to forget. Bags that fold up into a small ball that can be thrown into a handbag or fit into a pocket are also ideal, especially if you know they’re the type to forget their own bag and end up using plastic.

Natural beauty and skincare products

Buying make-up and skincare products for another person can be tricky, because people have their preferences and things like skin type, skin tone, and sensitivity can influence what type of product is best for them. However, if you would like to get a beauty or skincare product for someone, try to go for natural, sustainable brands.

Good things to look out for include:
– No animal testing
– Natural ingredients
– No microbeads
– No palm oil 

A great place for natural beauty product reviews is The Girl in The Ocean – Lauri regularly reviews beauty products, explains how some ingredients in regular brands can be toxic, and gives advice for re-purposing make up you’re no longer using.

One brand that I have been loving lately – which I found through Lauri’s blog – is Sukin Natural Skincare products – excellent quality, natural ingredients, carbon neutral, and really affordable. Unfortunately, squeeze tubes (like the grey one pictured above) can’t be recycled in most places, so this is something to keep in mind when looking for products.

Homemade gifts

Homemade gifts add a really personal touch to gift giving. It shows the person that you really put time, effort and thought into their present. You could give baked goods, crochet, knit, sew, cross-stitch, draw, paint – there are plenty of ways you could make a plastic-free homemade present.


Instead of trying to think of a material item to give someone for Christmas, look into getting them an experience instead – concert or theatre tickets, a hotel voucher, a cooking or baking class, a surfing lesson, something that you think they’ll enjoy.

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To re-gift or not to re-gift?

Every year it’s likely that you’re going to receive something you didn’t really want. Not everyone likes the idea of re-gifting, but the reality is it’s much better for that gift to end up with someone who will really want it than to let it go to waste. If you don’t want to re-gift it, donate it to a charity shop instead.

Wrapping your gifts

This year, I’ve learned that not all wrapping paper is recyclable. In fact, the type of wrapping paper that cannot be recycled – anything metallic, or with glitter or felt – is probably the most popular kind.

Not wrapping gifts probably doesn’t feel like an option – part of the joy of gift giving is not knowing what’s underneath the paper. So if we’re still going to wrap our gifts, we just have to do it sustainably. Choose wrapping paper that is made of paper and nothing else – avoid shiny metallic finish, glitter, or any other fancy additions, and better yet, re-use paper and gift bags if you can.

Eco-friendly decorations

If you’re buying new decorations, try to think about the packaging, the material, and the quality. Will it last for many Christmases to come? Does it come in recyclable packaging? How and where was it made? Not only does this mean you’re not wasting money on decorations that won’t last, you’ll know you did what you could to have less of an impact. 

– Choose wooden decorations (if it has an FSC label, even better)
– Get good-quality decorations that will last
– Go for package-free or things that come in a cardboard box rather than plastic
– Buy homemade decorations or pieces from local artists
– Make your own decorations with cloth, felt, or paper. 

Do your best

You don’t need to get it all right this Christmas. Living a more sustainable lifestyle takes time and effort, and it’s not something that happens overnight. Simply do what you can this year to reduce your impact, and build on that each year. Small steps can make a big difference, so just keep doing your best!

Happy Christmas!

Is there anything you do to be more eco-friendly at Christmas time?

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This is an independent blog post. All products mentioned in this post are products we own that were purchased by us. 

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  • Reply Nicola

    Some really great eco-friendly gift ideas here

    December 3, 2018 at 11:56 am
    • Reply byrnewithme

      Thank you Nicola, I hope it might be useful!

      December 3, 2018 at 2:57 pm
  • Reply josypheen

    Fantastic post!

    Although, it can be harder to be sustainable and shop locally when your family is on the other side of the world. Last year I ended up spending hundreds of dollars on postage…this year I’m hoping to do more shopping online (or get experiences for family, rather than *things*)

    You’re right though…I should try to at least buy things that are local to my family, and have them delivered…rather than paying a massive faceless company!

    December 3, 2018 at 12:46 pm
    • Reply byrnewithme

      I can definitely understand that! It’s a challenge when you want to give someone a gift but you’re not actually there to give it to them. For us it’s a mix of enlisting the help of people who are there and telling them to wait until we’re there hahaha. I’m going back to Ireland for work in January for week so some of the gifts will be coming with!

      December 3, 2018 at 3:01 pm
  • Reply wordfoolery

    Thanks for that – some good ideas in there. I’m making fabric bookmarks and buying books to go with them in my local bookshop this year. One thing on the coffee side of things – I’ve discovered you can get refillable pods for those coffee machines to fill with ground coffee, so I’ve ordered some of my DH as I hate the waste from that machine of his.

    December 3, 2018 at 2:39 pm
    • Reply byrnewithme

      I love that idea! Homemade, local purchase, thoughtful gift – perfect! I hate the waste from those machines too but they’re so popular. It’s good to know that there are some products out there to help reduce some of the waste. I’m glad you found the post helpful, thanks for commenting!

      December 3, 2018 at 3:07 pm
  • Reply Cathy

    Nice ideas. Will try to a few of these tips. Happy Christmas Hannah & Mike

    December 4, 2018 at 3:04 am
    • Reply byrnewithme

      Thank you Cathy, Happy Christmas to you all too!

      December 4, 2018 at 9:37 am
  • Reply Sustainable Responsible Living

    Great round-up of ideas 🙂 thank you

    December 4, 2018 at 2:44 pm
    • Reply byrnewithme

      Thank you for taking the time to read and comment, I’m really glad you liked the post.

      December 4, 2018 at 2:50 pm
  • Reply Carolina Panadero

    I love your ideas in this post, they are all really helpful. This year i am trying to do Christmas more sustainalbe as well. I bought my boyfriend and I a two days getaway and an activity of choice together. Also, everthing is wrapped in paper for at least two years ago, previously used. And finally I made my dog her Christmas stocking myself with felt that was around the house.
    Merry Christmas!

    December 5, 2018 at 6:34 am
    • Reply byrnewithme

      I love the idea of making a stocking yourself, I wish I had thought of that! They all sound like great ways to reduce and reuse at Christmas. Merry Christmas to you too!

      December 5, 2018 at 8:18 am
  • Reply Traci York

    Awesome ideas and information! I remember one Christmas years ago, when our three were still in single digits, that I got caught up in the “quantity over quality” mindset – still regret all the junk I bought then threw away a short time later, since it all broke.I’ve been baby-stepping ever since!

    December 7, 2018 at 11:55 am
    • Reply byrnewithme

      Thanks Traci, it’s definitely very easy to get carried away, it happens to me too sometimes when I see things in the stores and I have to stop myself from buying it. But in the end choosing things we know we’ll keep for years is a lot more fun!

      December 7, 2018 at 12:27 pm

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