With the holidays come all the trappings of the season—lights! Wrapping paper! Fancy parties! Lawn decorations! Holiday music! —and while we’ve come to associate many of these things with being festive, we challenge you to take a closer look at what really makes you get in the spirit. Chances are, you might find that what you love about this time of year has more to do with spending time with the people you love than it does with packages and lawn decorations.
In that spirit, we rounded up a list of the top five things people think they need—but really don’t—in those months from November through January when we get together with friends and loved ones to celebrate the real reason for the season.
One-Time-Use Wrapping Paper
One of the reasons it’s more fun to give than receive is due to the buildup around selecting just the right gift. Wrapping presents builds suspense—and makes the big reveal even more fun. But you can still enjoy all of the drama without the one-time-use wrapping paper. Try wrapping presents in burlap set off with a colorful satin ribbon, sewing a simple pillowcase-shaped cloth “bag” to tie with a bow, or wrapping gifts in newspaper or brown paper bags paired with striped kitchen twine. Have some leftover fabric from a crafting project or a blanket looking for a new life? Give them quick wash and refresh items you may no longer need by finding creative ways to wrap gifts with them. By choosing less disposable trappings, you can give the recipient his or her present and the gift of wrapping materials to pass along to the next lucky recipient.
Disposable Holiday-Themed Tableware
Yes, they’re festive. But you probably have well-loved linens and other table decor that can help make your table setting just as jolly. If you’re still looking for those holiday patterns on your table, why not gather up a few loved ones to create reusable napkins or tablecloths together out of some festive fabric? If you have access to a sewing machine, simply cut to size and hem your corners. If not, you can hand-stitch a hem—or use iron-on adhesive tape. When the holiday feast is over, simply throw your linens in the washer and reach for a plant-based laundry detergent formula built for your toughest the stains (USDA Certified BioBased Product 97%). (And if you’re really on autopilot after hosting a get-together, take all of the guesswork out of laundry with our EasyDoseTM ultra-concentrated laundry detergent
There’s nothing better than sniffing cinnamon, pine boughs, or cookies in the oven when you walk in the door. But rather than buying scented candles meant to evoke those smells, why not create your own homemade scents? There are plenty of fragrant ways to remind us of the holidays that don’t involve artificially-scented candles (that often come with a hefty price tag!) Instead, try hanging a few bundles of fresh herbs in your kitchen. They’ll give off a natural, pleasant fragrance, and when dried, you can use them in place of store-bought herbs from a jar in your cooking. Other ideas: trim a few boughs off an evergreen to place on your mantle, or make your own simmer pot. Just fill a large saucepan or slow-cooker with water and add 1 sliced apple, 1 sliced orange, 10 cloves, and 3 cinnamon sticks. Bring to a low simmer and enjoy a real—and festive!—aroma.
Lights and Decoration Overload
Sure, it’s fun to get in a (friendly) battle of out-decorating your neighbors, but when you look at your electricity bill, you might have a change of heart about those strings of twinkle lights. So instead of coming home to an electricity-consuming light show, focus on what you love best about your decorations. Maybe a simple wreath with a few LED lights next to your front door would be just the warm welcome you’re looking for—or maybe you’d find joy in lighting a candle or two for a luminary to flank your stoop. And when it comes to decorating the house, focus on the items that bring you the most joy and skip the yearly disposable additions - like tinsel and ribbon – that often wind up in the landfill. If you’re set on stringing something, host a popcorn-stringing party. Just remember to pop it a day or two in advance, as it’s far easier to string when stale. Cranberries and dried citrus slices work wonders, too!
Tons of Presents
What if, instead of giving presents, you gave everyone experiences instead? You can extend the joy by spacing little mini-trips or treats out throughout the year, giving you an opportunity to spend time with the people you love. You don't have to take the whole family to Disney World for a week to make this a great holiday gift—how about a day spent picking apples and making cider? Or a trip to a museum or park? Making memories to enjoy for years to come is one of the greatest gifts you can give. Looking for other ways to gift without adding to the holiday excess? Make a donation or volunteer with your loved one’s favorite charity on their behalf.
Spending time with the ones you love may help manage stress and anxiety that comes with the chaos that we all know as the holiday season. Have any tips on how to reduce and reuse during the holidays? We want to hear them! Connect with us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
On a mission to create a more healthy, sustainable, and equitable world for the next seven generations and beyond.