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Saturday, 14 December 2013

Christmas cheer, without the credit hangover

A week ago, in a post on Christmas Traditions, I mentioned my much beloved Playmobil Advent Calendar, that I have used for the last 12 years. At day 13, this is the scene so far:



I was then pointed in the direction of the Planet Ark site, and was very pleased to discover that some of my other Christmas Traditions were in accordance with their 12 Do's of Christmas. (Remember, I love travel and motorsport, and have filled a massive landfill with the disposable nappies of three children, so I have a lot of penance to do).

The best thing with a lot of these ecologically thoughtful ideas, is that they actually SAVE YOU MONEY. This means you can either spend more on other things, while you feel morally superior to lesser mortals, while still celebrating in traditional style.

First up, the tree. I love live trees - I need that smell or just don't bother. So I buy a tree in a pot. Each year I re-pot it into a slightly larger pot. As I'm not much of a gardener, and I forget to water it throughout the year, my tree only lasts three or four festive seasons. Even so, it means I spend approx. $30 a year on the tree. My neighbours have had the same tree in a pot for about the last 18 years, so as long as you have some gardening competence, the saving can be enormous!

Next up, the Christmas Cards. I like to post cards - there are perfectly fine e-cards, but if you like to hand write a message, here's another way to do it. At the end of the holiday period, cut all the pictures off the cards you received, and the next year they go out postcard style. The first year I did it, I felt the need to explain to people that I was doing it for environmental reasons, but now people expect it, a few friends have followed suit and one friend sends me her xmas cards as she know I don't have enough to cover the number I need to send. Less waste in envelopes and recycling and I save a fortune on buying cards.



Wrapping paper is another thing that causes me great guilt. I have a young tot who likes to paint, so from November on, all painting sessions are done on a long roll of butchers paper. This means she gets craft and I get wrapping paper. We even have xmas stamp sets and the red and green glitter paints if we really want to festive it up.
I also love gift bags, because I know everyone just keeps reusing them. I even once gave everyone pretty Enviro-bags as part of their xmas present, and that was the wrapping paper for the rest of the gift. (For the record, Santa doesn't wrap in this house, he just puts it in the material bag - win/win all round!)

Having guests? We got these cups ($24 for 30 cups from Ikea) for my son's first birthday party. We have used them for the last 12 years, for every kids party (times 3), Halloween parties and picnics. I can't imagine what we've saved on plastic cups.
We are having a grown up party and I've just supplied myself with .49 cent glassware also from Ikea. Again while the initial outlay has come in at around $30, we will have them forever and never need to buy disposable again. They all can go in the dishwasher, so they're really no extra work.

On to the party - we decorate the garden with lights - but I am a solar light fan. I dig them out before the xmas season hits, do a few days charging in full sun, then decorate the trees. The garden looks lovely, and there's no electricity bill to deal with. They also last - our first set is still going strong 8 years on.



I also favour the battery operated little Christmas lights - the house is still colourfully lit up, but run on rechargeable batteries (or Ikea recyclable ones) - they are a cheap and cost effective way to put on a light display without a heavy electricity bill at the end of it.





Lastly gifts - we give out a tonne of gifts, to people who really don't need them. That's adding to the waste in the world. A few things to consider, there are a lot of experiences now on offer - a massage, day spa visit, a jetpack adventure or even a night in a hotel - all lovely gifts, all leave minimal clutter and waste. For my book group, I found festive pasta, which will get consumed and is really just a token gesture.











If you are a cook or crafty, make chocolates or Christmas fare - there's less packaging and it's cheaper too (but I am not the person to give advice in this area, thus the pasta!). For dinner party thankyou gifts, consider the xmas plants, rather than boxed chocolate. Less packaging and also probably the more imaginative.

I am not the person to tell you how to make homemade gifts but I have received some great ones over the years. One of my favourites, a woman gave to each of the other bookclub members - she made them just from a tin! I got it four years ago and we've used it ever since. Feel free to link posts on how to make great gifts to the link up below. Recipes too, for Christmas fare.

The last one, is eBay, or regift what is unsued and unwanted - save someone else buying the exact same thing that's sitting in your cupboard. There you go, I just gave you permission to regift with higher purpose. Better for the environment and you might even make money.


What are your tips for Christmas that save your pocket and the environment?


Linking up with #TwinklyTuesday #StayClassyMama and #Dreamteam


PS Another discovery for me, is to make ice blocks with the left over soft drink from parties. Why do people open every bottle and only have one glass out of each bottle?
You can water it down a little and the kids can't tell, they don't realise they're getting less than if they had a glass of it, and you look like you're being mum of the year giving them a sugary treat on a hot day. Win/win all round. (UK peeps, in Oz it's HOT on Xmas!!)


22 comments:

  1. What great tips! Some corkers here I have not thought about before - particularly the living tree, always thought getting a real one was too much trouble but a wee one like that is the perfect size.
    I am so with you on gifts that can be consumed. Bestest idea ever - makes people use them, and doesn't contribute to household clutter/landfill.
    My own Christmas cards this year were made during a scrapbooking workshop - I really didn't mind getting crafty while gossiping with other women, plus gave me the chance to use some of the card, paper and tools I've bought over the years.

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    1. That's great re the cards! And they look so good too. (and you got to have a fun social time making them)

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  2. These are great. We had a gift back that became a bit of a running joke. It got reused for every birthday for 2 years (There is 11 grandkids on my mums side) and it was fun to see if someone would bring it along. It finally fell apart after 2 years though.

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    1. A group of my friends did that once with a really ugly plastic shoe rack...it did the rounds for about 6 years...

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  3. OMG! I love all of these and want them all, especially the iceblock moulds, Christmas plants, Christmas pasta AND the plastic cups. May have to rethink my list to Santa ;) Happy Christmas, Lydia. I have loved reading your posts this year and look forward to what you have in store next year!

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    1. What a nice thing to say! Thank you! (as someone skirting the fringes of weird, it's nice to get a pat on the back from time to time!)

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  4. I love these tips, especially the soft drink one! The plastic cups is a great idea too! My mum ended up planting our live Christmas tree outside when it got too tall and it is still growing in the yard :) Have a Merry Christmas!

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  5. wow, some awesome tips here. I especially love the tree tip! We have a fake tree, it's just easier and less mess, plus we have nowhere to keep a real tree once christmas is over b/c we live in a unit, but when we get a house I'd love to do that one. Also love your card idea! Thanks for sharing! -Aroha (for #teamIBOT)

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  6. OMG! Love that left over soft drink idea. Yay!
    Leanne @ Deep Fried Fruit

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  7. A lovely, timely post - thanks for the tips!

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  8. It would seem we all love these ideas!
    I personally am allergic to wrapping paper, so I love he idea of painting on butchers paper. That's a hell of a lot of craft though, maybe I would have to start in January (big, big family!).
    Have a fabulous Christmas, it looks like you are well prepared for it :)

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  9. Thanks for the tips. I agree with the soft drink bottles! Why do people open a new bottle when one is already opened! I will definitely make ice blocks from the left over drinks because I'm hosting this year and I don't want a fridge full of half empty bottles!

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  10. Some great tips! I love the gift bags vs the wrapping paper, I also think it is important to plan out food shopping and only buy what you need this time of year. So easy to impulse buy everything at the supermarket only to have it go to waste over the days after Christmas, especially if you are heading away x

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  11. That idea about resending old Christmas cards in postcard style is brilliant!

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  12. Clever. Some great ideas thanks. Love the festive pasta!!

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  13. I actually do a few of these but I love the cups idea, we have a stack from Ikea, as I've got older I try and be a lot more reasonable with environment, funny how kids did that to me! Your advent stage looking great and I'm envious of real tree, wouldn't last a week here in SE Qld but we had them as kids growing up! Merry Christmas if we don't 'chat' before then xx Em

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  14. Oh my goodness, so many ideas and inspiration and goodness in this post!!! I love that cups from IKEA idea, stealing that for next year! And we save the Christmas cards each year for next years craft and gift tags. Thanks for joining in with my Christmas Link Party xx

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  15. I love reusing cards as postcards what an awesome idea. Some great tip here, thanks :)

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  16. I love the idea of an experience rather than a physical gift! #dreamteam

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  17. What a cool idea and so thoughtful to do X #stayclassymama

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  18. So many brilliant tips here! I love the idea of keeping a potted Christmas tree. I can't bring myself to have a real cut tree. I had one once and the smell was amazing as you say, but I didn't water it properly and just spent all of Christmas feeling guilty as I watched it die! Potted sounds perfect! Love the Christmas postcard idea too! Thanks for linking to #DreamTeam x

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  19. Thank you for linking up with #stayclassymama
    Fab ideas for being money conscious over Christmas

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