Want to reduce your plastic waste this year? These ideas will help you enjoy a merry and plastic-free Christmas. 

Christmas is a time of peace, goodwill… and often a lot of unnecessary packaging. If you want to make a change, why not host an eco-friendly Christmas this year by following these plastic free ideas for a happy, healthy holiday? 

Photo by Neptune

Rethink your wrapping
There are several smart and stylish ways to avoid single-use, plastic-coated wrapping paper this year:

  • Choose paper without a plastic backing (it’s often thicker and looks more like kraft paper).
  • Keep and reuse wrapping paper where possible.
  • Tie gifts with twine or ribbons that can be reused, rather than covering them with sticky tape or using foil bows that often come wrapped in single-use plastic packaging.
  • Wrap gifts in reusable fabric and tie them with ribbon. Not only does this look great, it’s also an easy way to wrap awkwardly shaped presents!
Photo by Nyblom Kollen

Avoid single-use tableware
Plastic plates and cutlery, while convenient for a Christmas party, are obviously out for a plastic free Christmas. But even paper plates and napkins, which aren’t plastic items per se, do come wrapped in single-use plastic, so they’ll need to be substituted.

To eliminate plastic wrapping from your table setting entirely, choose reusable cotton or linen napkins that can be laundered afterwards, and borrow or rent any extra cutlery and glassware needed for Christmas festivities.

Upgrade your crackers
Many Christmas crackers have a throw-away plastic toy inside that gets discarded as soon as the meal is over. Make yours more sustainable by creating your own (you can source empty cracker sets online). 

Photo by Houseology Design Group Limited

Alternatively, replace them entirely with a small tabletop gift, such as a little Christmas tree decoration or a tiny potted plant for guests to take home.

Cut down on plastic when prepping food
When preparing food ahead of time or to take to another house, store meals in glass or enamel containers. To keep food fresh, use beeswax wraps rather than plastic wrap.

Photo by Marks & Spencer

Choose ‘natural tinsel’
Instead of draping tinsel or plastic berries across your mantelpiece, why not try to source the real thing this year? Most stores that sell Christmas trees usually sell fresh ivy, mistletoe and holly, too. As long as you keep plants with berries well out of reach of children and pets, they will look fantastic.

Photo by Laara Copley-Smith Garden & Landscape Design

If you’re composting, chop up leaves and stems finely or they will take a long time to break down. Alternatively, have your local council take the sprigs away when the holiday’s over.

Photo by Inredningsstylist

Decorate a plastic-free tree
If you already have plastic Christmas tree decorations, then keep them and use them – the key here is not to buy any new ones. If you need new decorations, the following ideas are all beautiful alternatives to plastic:

  • Antique glass baubles.
  • Rustic metal stars.
  • Enamelled-tin ornaments.
  • Felt decorations.
  • Carved wooden decorations.
  • Strings of wooden beads.
  • Carved or stamped clay decorations.

Rediscover paper decorations
Making paper decorations and paper chains is a fun, affordable and inherently eco-friendly way to avoid buying plastic decorations. If you fancy giving it a go, there are plenty of online tutorials available and all you need are tissue paper, glue, a pair of scissors and a little patience. 

Photo by Urbanara

If making them yourself doesn’t appeal, you can buy pre-made paper decorations, and nearly all will fold down flat after Christmas to be saved for reuse the following year.

Fashion a natural wreath
Making natural Christmas decorations can feel like a bit of a chore if you’re short of time in the run-up to the big day (and, let’s face it, most of us are).

Photo by Mia Mortensen Photography

But one way to embrace making your own Christmas wreath or garland is to turn it into an occasion. Invite friends and family over, get some chilled champagne or mulled wine on the go, put some Christmas music on, and turn wreath-making into part of the festivities.

Use scented materials such as pine needles and dried orange slices to ensure your wreath smells as good as it looks.

Again, there are plenty of tutorials online if you need a little guidance or inspiration.

Make your own gift sets
To avoid giving gift sets encased in unnecessary single-use plastic packaging, try making your own. Purchase small items individually, then package them up in reusable wrapping, which can become part of the gift.

Photo by The Happy Home

Books, socks, bars of soap and small food items, for example, can all be made into personalised gift sets and packaged in a canvas bag, cotton or silk scarf, or wicker basket.

Article written by Victoria Harrison -Houzz UK and Ireland Editor.