Erin Doman on December 18, 2015 0 Comments For many people, the holiday season really is the most wonderful time of the year. This is the time of year when Christmas lights cover neighborhood homes and trees, and a time of gift giving and spending time with your family and friends. Christmas decorations surely make your home cheery and bright; however, all the holiday trappings can take a toll on the environment. These 20 tips can help you have an eco-friendly Christmas so your holiday can be truly green. Eco-Friendly Lighting Energy consumption skyrockets during the holidays, and much of that comes from lighting. Here are some ways to help you save while keeping your holiday merry and bright. Use LED lights for trees and outdoor lighting. Some people are hesitant to swap their traditional lights for LEDs, which are more expensive initially, but LEDs are 75% more efficient than regular lights and will save both energy and money in the long run. For even more eco-friendly lighting, find solar LED strings for outdoor use. Even with the diminished daylight hours of winter, these strands can harvest enough sunlight to power themselves long into the evening. Reduce the size of your outdoor display. In some neighborhoods, each house competes to have the brightest display on the street, but your holiday spirit isn’t really measured in the number of strands on your house. Stick with a smaller display that incorporates fewer lighted elements and show your neighbors your love for the season as well as the environment. Use soy or beeswax candles in your household décor, which have cleaner emissions than other types of candles and require no outside energy, as opposed to electrical lights. Put your outdoor lights on a timer, or simply turn them off when you go to bed. Christmas tree lights can be placed on a timer as well, although for the most efficient usage you should simply unplug or turn tree lights off when you are not currently enjoying them. Eco-Friendly Decorating Lights are not the only holiday décor that can harm the environment. Fortunately, there are many great and green ways to decorate for the holidays. Choose a real Christmas tree, which is both renewable and recyclable. If possible, cut the tree yourself from a local farm. For a truly green Christmas, use a potted tree and plant it when the holidays are over. Choose timeless ornaments that won’t break or be discarded. You might collect special ornaments to commemorate memorable moments each year, or find ornaments in sustainable materials such as wood and cloth. Spend a fun night as a family making your own decorations from natural materials. String popcorn, candy, cereal or dried fruit and hang it from the tree, mantle or railings. Arrange nuts, pinecones and holly for seasonal décor that won’t harm the environment. Make decorations from recyclables. Save kids drawings or scrap paper and cut them into snowflakes. Punch holes in old canes and place a candle in each one for holiday luminaries. You can really get creative when designing decorations out of old and obsolete items. If you’ve outgrown your old décor, don’t just throw it away. Sell it online or donate it to a local charity where it can continue to offer holiday cheer. Eco-Friendly Gifting People love giving and receiving gifts. When picking out gifts for your friends and family, be sure to choose presents that will fill the receiver’s heart, not the local landfill. Skip the battery-powered plastic toys and consider these options instead. Shop local craft fairs and artisan shops for unique handmade gifts. These generally do not come in plastic packaging and have not been shipped long distances. If you have a special skill, try making your own gifts for others. Bake a special treat, knit some stockings, paint a picture or frame a photo you took yourself. Homemade gifts are often cherished long after store-bought presents have been outgrown or thrown away. Choose recycled or up-cycled gifts. Many products are made from recycled material, but you can also find fun gifts made from old materials such as purses made from seatbelts and shoes constructed of old tires. Consider second-hand items as well. Your child won’t care that you bought their gaming console off a local listing instead of from a big box store. Shorten your gift list. Talk to your family and friends about drawing names or creating a game of Secret Santa instead of buying gifts for each person. They will probably appreciate having fewer people to show for, and the money that would have been spent can be used to purchase your assigned person something really nice. Give memories instead of things. Take family members and friends on a special outing or give your children coupons for a one-on-one day out with mom or dad. Buy tickets for a concert or give your loved one a weekend getaway. A special experience can be an unforgettable gift. Eco-Friendly Wrapping Once you’ve found the perfect environmentally friendly gift, continue your green gift giving by choosing eco-friendly ways to wrap. Skip the harsh dyes and chemicals of traditional wrapping paper and try the following ideas. Instead of using rolls of colorful paper, up-cycle other types of paper for wrapping that is unique and green. Paper grocery bags and twine, newspaper and children’s old drawings are all excellent choices. Gift bags can be reused again and again. Place gifts in a bag you received last year or, if you must purchase new bags, write “Reuse me!” on the tags instead of a name. Wrap presents with colorful cloth that can be reused year after year. Tie fabric around the gifts or sew custom bags that can be reused for shopping or home organization. Stay away from shiny, metallic wrapping paper and home décor. The shine comes from harsh chemicals that do not recycle easily and prohibits it from being used in compost. If your gift requires packaging, use cardboard, which is easy to recycle. If you must use plastic, look for number 1 and number 2 plastics, which are the easiest to recycle. During the holidays, we focus on showing love for the people around us, but the love shouldn’t stop there. Limit your holiday energy consumption and choose eco-friendly gifts and décor to show your love for the environment as well.