It’s getting festive here in the YES office and we’re all starting to think about decorating our homes and getting on with some Christmas shopping. The annual challenge of what to buy our loved ones seems to get more difficult each year. Plus we’re more conscious than ever about the environment and the ways in which we can reduce our consumption and waste – and Christmas plays a big part in this.

So we’ve decided to put some extra thought in to our festive décor and gift giving this year with these useful ideas below. Not only are they environmentally friendly, but low cost, simple, and extra personal too.

DIY decorations:

  • Paper chains are a classic Christmas decoration that never goes out of style. Get the kids involved and ask them to decorate strips of coloured paper to give it a personal touch. You could also cut up those awkward bits of wrapping paper left over from last year – a great way to reuse before you recycle!
  • For both décor and gift giving, homemade advent calendars are practical and look great hung up around the home. Number up 24 brown paper bags using whatever you fancy, fill them with homemade cookies, paper crafts, sweets and stocking fillers.
  • Christmas candles are a must have. If you have plain candles around the house, simply pop orange slices and cinnamon sticks around the edge of your glass candle holder to add a festive twist that makes all the difference. Finish with some pretty ribbon tied in a bow to give it a final flourish. You could also use old jam jars rinsed out which look just as lovely! Alternatively, invest in some glass paints and decorate pretty Christmas motifs on the outside of the holder. These make beautiful decorations or thoughtful gifts.
  • Homemade wreaths are all the rage and there are so many ways you can make your own. Pinterest has some great ideas, using everything from tinsel, string, pine cones and baubles to give your front door some serious curb appeal.
  • A more unusual one, but air drying clay is clay that you don’t need to cook in a kiln. It’s easy to use and you can find amazing tutorials to make ornaments and crockery, which you can stamp with handprints, shells and leaves, cookie cutters, lace and decorate when dry. This is a lovely activity to do with children and you can make tree decorations by stamping a hole and stringing ribbon through.

Personal presents:

  • Baking is something enjoyable we can all get involved with and there are plenty of seasonal recipes for cookies, gingerbread and all other sweet treats. Batch up your creations in to paper gift bags, add a tag and ribbon and you’ve got a delicious gift ready to give.
  • Homemade bath bombs, salts and tea bags are much easier to make than you may think. You can choose your own colours and scents and add in things like flower petals for a wow factor.
  • A shadow box is a deep photo frame that you can put 3D objects in. They make lovely presents and can be themed however you like. You can collect old photos, toys and clothes for a little time capsule. Or why not display collections of theatre and cinema tickets or your family tree? Whatever you like! It is a truly personal gift and there are loads of ideas online.
  • We all take lots of photos but often forget to actually print them. Why not create a photo gift? A collage, album or scrap book are the traditional options, but you can also get them printed onto just about anything. You could also decorate a frame to display your favourite photos or children’s artwork in.
  • Make some vouchers. Free babysitting, an offer of help around the house or garden, a haircut or manicure, a movie night with popcorn, breakfast in bed, whatever you can offer someone.

Do you have anything you can add to the list? Let us know in the comments below.

If you’re interested in other ways to be environmentally conscious, here’s how to reduce your food waste this Christmas.