How to have a minimal waste Christmas with small children

by motherandbaby |
Updated on

Mum influencer Karen Maurice (@N4Mummy) tells us her top tips for having a minimal-waste Christmas, even when you're trying to make Christmas as magical as possible for tiny tots...

Your five-year-old started planning their Christmas list in July, and the in-laws have already bagsied Christmas Day lunch.

It’s the season of goodwill and joy to all, but you’re already overwhelmed and it’s not even December. Plus, you don’t actually want or need any more stuff in your house. Huge plastic toys, endless wrapping paper and an excess of food can all just feel a bit too much. And it misses the true spirit of Christmas.

So, how can we reduce waste at Christmas and focus on the things that really matter?


How to have a minimal waste Christmas

Family unwrapping christmas presents1 of 10

1) Use recyclable gift wrap

We Brits bin the equivalent of 108 million rolls of wrapping paper each Christmas. But it just takes a little creativity to find alternatives. 
In our house, throughout the year we collect wrapping paper, ribbons, fabric bags, in fact anything that we can reuse to make a present look pretty. It’s all stored in a big chest and we all love diving in and seeing what gems are in there. You could also reuse newspaper and add a sprig of holly for decoration, opt for recycled brown paper, or go Japanese and wrap your gifts in fabric, it’s called Furoshiki.
There are lots of tutorials on YouTube, but if it looks too complicated you can buy fabric swatches ready sewn with ribbons on. They’re not cheap, so each Christmas/birthday I buy one and we’re slowly building up a stock of them.

Family playing by a lake2 of 10

2) Give the gift of an experience

Stuck for present ideas? Well recently, instead of filling my relatives’ houses with yet more stuff, I’ve opted for buying experiences.
Buyagift is a great option with its huge and varied selection of experience ideas. They have over x 4500 different options for everyone from your toddler to Great Grandma. I particularly like their gifts for families. With everything from family days out to theme parks and cookery lessons, even the grumpiest eleven-year-old boy won’t be bored.
An experience is such a wonderful gift for a family, because not only do they get to have fun, but you’re also giving them the gift of time together. And after all, that is what Christmas is all about.

Grandma playing with granddaughter3 of 10

3) Offer present suggestions to Grandparents

No one wants a huge plastic ride on in their house, no matter how much your three-year-old will love it. So, be bold and offer present guidance to well-meaning Grandparents, Aunts and Uncles.
Personally, I dislike writing a detailed list, it feels a little too materialistic, but I will tell them the types of things I know my kids would love to receive. I also like to guide them towards good quality brands whose toys will last.

Toddler playing with train set4 of 10

4) Don't be afraid to buy second-hand

The pressure at Christmas to spend, spend, spend can be huge. But you don’t have to spend the earth to bring a smile to your children’s faces. I love browsing in our local charity shops for books and toys for the kids.

It’s amazing what you can find there at a very reasonable price. And then when the children have out-grown them, providing they’re still in good condition, they can just be returned there.

Mum cooking with her kids5 of 10

5) Reduce food waste by planning meals

Indulgence, calories and good food are all part of the Christmas celebrations, but it can also create a huge amount of food waste. A bit of careful planning of meals can help prevent this.
Before the big day, research some recipes for using up Turkey meat. Have it sliced and cold as part of a Christmas supper and then use it in a pie, as a curry or even part of a stir fry on subsequent days.
The options are endless.

Family taking a Christmas walk6 of 10

6) Take a festive walk

As a family we always take a festive walk after Christmas lunch to work off a few calories. It helps to get everyone out in the fresh air, particularly the kids. It could just be as far as the local pub or to see a close friend/relative.

Girl holding a gingerbread man7 of 10

7) Enjoy old-fashioned party games

There are so many fun games, suitable for the whole family that require nothing except a willingness to participate and a sense of humour. Some of our family favourites include; murder in the dark, sardines, Pictionary and happy families. Getting members of your family to pull together a quiz can also be quite hilarious too. My uncle does one called ‘Universally Challenged’ which is totally impossible and distinctly unfair with points being given/removed for no apparent reason. But it always leaves us in stitches.

Toilet roll tube8 of 10

8) Make your own crackers

So, this does require a little effort, but I promise you it’s worth it. Take a leaf out of The Good Life’s Tom and Barbara’s book and make your own crackers.
Save toilet rolls and fill them with newspaper hats, a small gift and some terrible jokes. They might not snap when you pull them, but that doesn’t really matter.
One year we did underwear crackers. I loved seeing everyone’s faces when they got a new pair of knickers with their Christmas meal. While you’re at it, why not make your own Christmas wreathor Christmas jumper?

Sustainable bamboo cutlery9 of 10

9) Ask Santa for some everyday useful sustainable items

Encourage Santa to gift you some sustainable items that’ll see you through 2020. A bamboo toothbrush, beeswax food wrap, bars of soap and reusable face wipes are just a few ideas of what you could wake up to on Christmas morning alongside your orange.

Sausage dog Christmas tree decoration10 of 10

10) Dust off Christmas decorations from the loft

If you spend too much time on Pinterest, you may think there are new Christmas decoration trends that you need to buy into. But save your time and money and instead opt for reusing decorations from years past.
We still own decorations that my Grandparents hung on their tree. They are some of my favourite pieces as they are full of nostalgia and memories.
Naturally with little ones around decorations get broken. So, each year Father Christmas puts one new decoration in each person’s stocking.
Our Christmas tree never looks like something from a magazine, but then again with kids whose does?

For more tips on how to have an eco-friendly Christmas, check out Buy A Gift's guide, here.

Now read:

The best eco-friendly beauty products that don't cost the earth

11 sustainable children's clothing brands you need to know about

The best eco-friendly baby products including biodegradable nappies and wipes

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