With an enormous lunch to cook, a thousand things to do, and a seemingly unending number of Secret Santas to partake in, Christmas can be an overwhelming time of year – especially if you’re trying to look after the planet too. If, like us, you’ve committed to living a more environmentally aware life, this guide should help you get a little clearer on how to host a sustainable Christmas.

Step 1: Plan Ahead
We know – it sneaks up on us every year, too! If you haven’t this year, don’t worry – but planning ahead means you’re far less likely to resort to buying something on the naughty list last-minute. Write down your gift list a few months early, and keep an eye out when you’re already shopping to reduce your journeys back and forth. Store newspaper and fabric offcuts for homemade wrapping (see step 4!)… you can even grow your own Christmas tree if you think far enough ahead!

Step 2: Opt for DIY Decorations
Talking of that tree, if you’ve been re-using the same decorations for the last 10 years – brilliant! There’s something beautifully romantic about pulling your favourites out of the attic every year. But if you’ve busted too many baubles and you’re in need of a refresh, think about making your own. Recycled paper or salt dough can create some classic Christmas decorations that kids will love to get involved with too.

Step 3: Eco Gift Giving
If you have like-minded friends or family, try suggesting you all enjoy a day out together rather than buying each other presents, which will reduce your impact entirely – and none of you have to think about what to get! But if that’s not possible, shop at your local independent boutiques or Christmas fairs, avoid plastic, and seek out eco-friendly natural, biodegradable materials.

Step 4: Watch the Wrapping
Yes, the shiny reindeer wrapping paper is super cute, but if your paper is decorated with foil and/or glitter – it can’t be recycled. Opt for a roll of classy brown paper; or you can even buy reusable fabric gift bags (so you’ll be sure to see it come back to you next year!).

Step 5: Eat Local
For the big Christmas lunch itself, remember to support your hard-working local farmers, butchers, and greengrocers. You’ll find most of the things you need without a plastic wrapping, and a lot of it will have been grown within a few miles of your home! For the unavoidable leftovers, think about storing them in beeswax food bags rather than plastic, and share them out around the family to ensure you’re not left with too much to get through.

If you do get a little overwhelmed, take a breath and remember that Christmas is a time of joy and lots of love. Do the best you can, and make a note of what you found difficult so you can improve on it next year. Focus on the journey towards sustainable living, and make real, long-lasting shifts.

Merry Christmas!