The upcoming holidays are a time to celebrate with family and friends, enjoy delicious food, receive gifts, decorate our homes, and show gratitude for the things we have. And what better way to show a little gratitude than treating our planet with the care it deserves. When the holidays roll around it’s easy to forget that we’re creating much more waste than usual—that is, until Christmas Day, when we realize our garbage cans are overflowing from torn and discarded wrapping paper, leftover food, and excessive product packaging.

All this waste might cause you to pause and reflect on what you can do to cut back this coming year. Never fear, there are plenty of eco-friendly Christmas gift bags, eco-friendly outdoor Christmas decorations, eco-friendly Christmas crafts, and eco-friendly Christmas tree lights that will help you reduce your impact on the environment this year. Give back to the planet this holiday season with our 15 eco-friendly holiday tips and gift ideas.

1. Buy Eco-Friendly Gifts

Gifts are already notoriously hard to choose for people. Of all the gifts we give, not all of them are eco-friendly. Get your family and friends something they can really appreciate this year and find eco-friendly holiday gift ideas. This includes gifts that have a low carbon footprint, are made to be environmentally friendly, are easily recyclable, have minimal packaging, and are locally made. Your family and friends will love knowing their gift was chosen with them—and the environment—in mind.

2. Use Eco-Friendly Gift Wrapping

Once you’ve found your perfect eco-friendly holiday gift idea, you’ll certainly want to present it in the best way possible. While wrapping paper is pretty, you might be surprised to find out that the shiny coating, foiling, and color make the vast majority of wrapping paper unsuitable for recycling. Considering that half of the paper purchased in America is used to wrap gifts and package consumer products, you can make a huge difference by switching up your traditional wrapping paper choices for something more environmentally friendly this year. Some great ideas for eco-friendly Christmas gift bags and wrapping paper include:

  • Reusable Bags
  • Newspaper
  • Maps
  • Comics Section of Newspaper
  • Scarves or Bandanas
  • Cloth Wraps
  • Recycled Wrapping Paper

If you think using some of these materials to wrap gifts might seem a bit odd, you should check out Japanese and Korean gift wrapping with cloth. They’ve been doing it for years and it’s a truly beautiful way to present a gift.

3. Think Quality Over Quantity

When it comes right down to it, we really don’t need extra junk during the holidays. Considering that 60% of Americans already get gifts they don’t want, it pays to be selective and get things that will last and can be enjoyed for years to come. Instead of purchasing several gifts that your family members sort of want, follow this eco-friendly holiday gift idea and spend your money on one, good-quality present they actually want.

4. DIY Gifts

If finances are tight or you just want to add a personal touch to your eco-friendly holiday gift ideas, consider getting creative and make something your friends and family will treasure. Some great ideas include:

  • Ornaments
  • Picture Frames
  • Homemade beauty products

Look for materials that are eco-friendly and recyclable so the gifts you give are easy on the environment, as well as your wallet. And as always, Pinterest is there for you if you need an idea or two.

5. Give Experiences—Not Things

Another great eco-friendly holiday gift idea is to give an experience rather than a gift. This could be a gift card to their favorite restaurant, a trip to the zoo, museum memberships, movie tickets, lessons for something they’ve always wanted to learn, or even a trip somewhere they’ve always wanted to visit.

6. Fill Stockings With Natural Treats

Every year we stuff stockings with all the tiny gifts, candy, and chocolate we can. But if you’re looking for eco-friendly holiday tips (that are also healthy), consider filling this year’s stockings with natural treats like fresh or dried fruit, or homemade cookies. Not only are they better for your health, but they also create less packaging waste that will end up in a landfill.

7. Keep It Natural and Simple

While we all love decorating our homes during the holidays, there’s no reason to go overboard. Not only will you have to store all those decorations for next year, but many of them tend not to be very eco-friendly. Instead, cut down on the number of your decorations and find or make decorations from natural materials.

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8. Get an Eco-Friendly Tree

You might think purchasing a fake tree is the best way to protect the environment because you’re not cutting down a live tree. Unfortunately, fake trees tend to be much worse for the environment because they are often made from plastic, PVC, and toxic materials. They are also usually imported from China, leading to a pretty large emission footprint for production and travel. To top it all off, they often can’t be recycled. If you do need a fake tree, invest in a high-quality one that will last well over a decade to reduce your environmental impact. Some great eco-friendly Christmas tree options include:

There really are endless options for finding the perfect eco-friendly Christmas tree. If you do opt for a live tree, make sure you take the time to recycle it once the season is over. The National Christmas Tree Association can help you when it comes time to recycle your tree after the holidays.

9. Hang LED Lights

Now that you have your lovely eco-friendly Christmas tree, you’ll want to keep up the theme with eco-friendly Christmas tree lights. This year, swap your traditional bulbs for eco-friendly Christmas tree lights in the form of LED bulbs. LEDs are more efficient and use much less energy than traditional incandescent bulbs. They also have the added benefit of not getting nearly as hot as incandescent bulbs—which makes them safer during the holidays. Save money and the environment with this eco-friendly holiday tip.

10. Light Natural Candles

Christmas candles are a great way to make your home smell amazing during the holidays. However, lots of candles use petroleum-based wax that’s not great for the environment. Follow this eco-friendly holiday tip and purchase candles made from natural soy or beeswax to scent your home.

11. Make a Stove Simmer

Another amazing way to make your home smell great during the holidays is to use a stove simmer. You can learn how to make your house smell like Christmas with this simple recipe.

12. Bring Out the Nice China

When it comes to holiday meals there’s usually a lot of people involved and a lot of mouths to feed. While it’s tempting to take the easy road and use paper plates and plastic utensils for the occasion, you’re not doing any favors for the environment. Instead, why not celebrate the holiday with your nice china—you know, the ones you never use? There’s no better time than the holidays to let them grace your table.

13. Keep It Local

This eco-friendly holiday tip will not only help you find eco-friendly food, but will also make your meal super nutritious and delicious. Find organic, local farms for your meat, veggies, and fruit needs this holiday season.

14. Compost Your Leftovers

When the meal is over don’t just throw all your food in the trash. Compost the leftovers you can to save them from ending up in landfills and feed your lovely garden at the same time. If you have (or know someone who has) chickens or pigs, they will eat whatever leftovers you can’t compost.

15. Use Natural Cleaners

When the festivities are over and cleanup begins, don’t forget to make sure your cleaners are also eco-friendly. There are dozens of options for natural cleaners that won’t harm the environment and will keep your house sparkling all year long.

Following these eco-friendly holiday tips will help you reduce your waste this holiday season. Use our eco-friendly holiday gift ideas wrapped in eco-friendly Christmas gift bags to show your family members you care this year. Decorate your yard with eco-friendly outdoor Christmas decorations by using eco-friendly Christmas tree lights, and make sure to find the perfect eco-friendly Christmas tree for the holiday season. Finally, don’t forget to decorate your home in eco-friendly Christmas crafts.

If you’re interested in keeping your home eco-friendly for the holidays (and all-year-round) learn more about Spring Power & Gas and how we can help you find the best energy to power your home.