Unwrap gifts outside with a whole forest of Christmas Trees for an eco-friendly holiday

The holiday season is often synonymous with excess and splurging, but is that really the true spirit of giving? Seems like taking into account our impact on the planet is at least as important a gift as that new tie you just bought your Dad. Green your holiday this year with these easy tips.

1. Decorate naturally. The lights, the strings of ornaments and that weird giant inflatable snowman in your neighbor’s yard are time-consuming energy-suckers and can set you back a pretty penny. Make your own décor by using household items like wine corks, or use potpourri blends to spice up centerpieces. Take a walk and look for flowers, pinecones and other seasonal foliage to turn your holiday green.

2. Relatives, friends and the increased visits from the FedEx guy can make a clean house during the holidays a priority. Save money and the environment by using inexpensive and all natural cleaning ingredients like vinegar, baking soda, salt and essential oils.

3. Feast locally. You can still be the hostess with the mostest by featuring only locally sourced ingredients at your holiday dinner party.

4. Create your own gifts. Whether you take amazing photos, make awesome mixtapes or delicious marmalade, there’s nothing more meaningful and low-impact than a homemade gift. Show your loved ones that they’re one-of-a-kind with gifts that are too.

5. Lose the wrapping paper.  Even eco-friendly paper is likely to end up in the trash and took a lot of resources to get to you. Reuse old wrapping paper, sheet music, subway maps, or clip together magazine and newspaper pages (remember those?), or go without paper all together. You can cut fabric from an old t-shirt and wrap with ribbon, or find some sturdy leaves to wrap around your gifts.

6. Raising money for a cause is one of the greenest things you can do. Instead of shuffling through the mall, help collect funds. People are much more prone to make a donation this time of year and you’ll feel great supporting a cause.

7. Re-gift! While Emily Post may say it’s a no-no, that brand new electric toothbrush you never used is not doing anyone any good in your garage. Save money and make someone happy with a re-gift.

8.Did you know it takes 7 to 10 years to grow a Christmas tree? Use a potted live tree, or better yet, bring all your presents out to your backyard on Christmas morning and open them with a whole a bunch of trees. It’ll definitely be a Christmas like no other.

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Photo: Jill Ettinger