Reducing holiday waste with Green Tips from Annette!

I suppose the best way of doing this is to avoid the holiday altogether, though if I told my family I am cancelling Christmas for environmental reasons I’d be fired.

So, let’s make the most of it and look at what we can reduce and reuse.

Wrapping paper. After our gift giving is over, I collect the bags and boxes that can be reused and store them for the next year.  For years our family recycled a big Disney big box and the family member who received the big present that fit in the box was always so excited! Felt name tags can be used year after year, along with cloth draw string bags.  We have bags that hold memories of gifting going on for twenty years or more. When the children were young, they would decorate paper with drawings and paintings and proudly present them to Grandparents who carefully unwrapped that year’s creation. If you prefer a good rip and tear then use newspaper, the funnies or sports section depending on who is receiving or any large sheets of coloured paper that come your way tied up with natural twine.

Keep gifts simple.

Give food or drink, make your own sweets or baked goods and gift them in a box. A child’s cooking set with all the ingredients weighed out in a recyclable bowl.  Make gifts using natural materials such as a table center piece.  We normally give experiences however, travel and experiences are out the window in 2020.

Give to those in need.

Donating to a charity is a wonderful notion. Chose a charity that is meaningful to the person receiving the honour.  There is something special about receiving a thoughtful gift from a close friend or family and one year, I estimated what I spent on gifts and donated to a local literacy project that was meaningful to me and sent cards telling my family a gift had been made in their name. No one commented on it, so I guess my choice of charity did not go down well for them.  At the winery, we used to save all those requests for donations and before the holidays go through the wishes and decide as a family who we were giving to that year. It helped with decision making and an awareness of others. Now we do give to charities at other times of the year without family input as the children are big enough to make their own decisions on what they give to.

There are plenty of ideas on the internet for homemade gifts, useful gift giving on platforms such as Pinterest. Most of us do not need or want more ‘stuff’. Stuff ends up in a garage or basement for years and then landfill.

Setting the table with holiday sparkle.

The dining table is well used, joyful place to connect with family over the holidays. We have a special tablecloth that comes out each year with cloth napkins from John Lewis in England, purchased about 40 years ago. (I was very young when I got them.) It is a comforting ritual when it is time to retrieve them from the closet and set the Christmas table.  Christmas would not be Christmas without our Christmas tablecloth and napkins.

Good intentions can clash with the best intentions.

Holiday crackers are wasteful, though it’s a tradition that our family loves.  I make my own Christmas crackers with gifts appropriate to that person, so we don’t have those little plastic trinkets that know no one wants. I save the ribbons for decorating next year and hats are used for tissue paper. One year, I bought small musical instruments, a whistle, a tiny cymbal and so on, and for the post dinner entertainment I was the conductor. Another year, I wrote a short skit with each person having their part inside their cracker. The skit reflected things that happened in the year and was a wonderful reminder of the fun we have.  We are hosting a holiday cracker craft kit workshop on Sunday, December 13th from 1-3pm.  Bring your own trinkets and we supply everything else.  Our mulled wine workshop is filling up fast and takes place this Sunday, November 29th from 1-3pm.  Mulled wine is a lovely gift for a friend or neighbour or yourself.

Be nostalgic.

Use ornaments year after year and add news ones that reflect an important moment or memory. We love the trees where each decoration tells a story or reminds us of a fond time with loved ones. Use nature as your décor. Wreath making with all things found in nature gives a festive, traditional look.

Come visit the winery, our traditional decorations are up and enjoy a glass of wine whilst you’re here.  Sunday’s in December from 1-3pm we are offering fun, safe social distancing holiday workshops!  Nature inspired wreath making, Christmas Cracker making and other festive workshops.

Please share with us your ideas on giving gifts to bring joy to those you love and tread lightly on the world we live in. Wishing you all a joyful, safe & green Christmas!

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