Zero Waste and DIY Christmas Decorations

1st December 2020

Make it a Zero Waste Christmas

It’s all about the small steps we take to contributing to a more environmentally friendly lifestyle.

With Christmas just around the corner, why not start there! Christmas may be the most wonderful time of the year, but the festive period is also a massive contributor to landfill. Every year, we spend hundreds if not thousands of pounds on presents, wrapping and Christmas decorations. These are all items that generally need to be disposed of and let’s be honest, many of us will dispose of these items incorrectly whether that be due to laziness or just not knowing! One way to avoid unnecessary waste is by taking part in a zero-waste Christmas. From DIY Christmas decorations to eco-friendly gift wrapping, we’ve gathered a selection of ideas to help you make the step to zero-waste Christmases.

By now, you’ll know that Green Retreats are massive advocates for an environmentally friendly lifestyle. Our Bucks showroom, offices and production facility run on solar energy, powered by one of the UK’s largest solar farms and we are carbon neutral! We also contribute zero waste to landfill. Our eco-policy is something we’re incredibly proud of, and we love to see others follow suit.


DIY Christmas Decorations

Making your own Christmas decorations from recyclable materials is not only eco-friendly but also a fun activity to do, whether on your own or with your family. Create Christmas decorations that you can keep for years to come and memories to cherish.

Our Scandi friends sure know how to do Christmas! We’ve taken great inspiration from the Hygge Christmas decoration designs which utilise natural materials. The decorations we hope to inspire you with are all made from materials many of us may already have in our homes and if not, very easily attained.


Paper Galore

The onion

For our first Christmas decoration, we’ll start with something simple. We’re not sure what to name these paper ornaments, but people have likened them to onions, so let’s go with that! A straightforward design made from strips of paper or card, string and staples.

You’ll need five strips of paper per ornament at 1 inch wide each. Then you’ll cut two strips to be 7 inches long, two at 6 inches and one at 5 inches. Stack your strips together, so the shortest strip is in the middle followed by the 5-inch strips on either side, then the 7-inch strips on the outer sides. Line your strips at the top and staple about an inch down. On the opposite edge, line up the ends, so they all meet, and you’ll see your onion take shape. Secure the end with another staple, poke a hole through the top of your ornament and attach some string. You’re done!

Split image of DIY Christmas decorations process


The Diamond

Now for something equally as beautiful bit slightly more challenging to make. What better way to stay occupied than with a bit of origami? We all have a bit more time on our hands at the moment so why not attempt this 3D diamond origami ornament. While there are quite a few steps involved in the design, they are relatively simple to carry out. For these Christmas decorations, you will need 2 square sheets of paper (you can use any paper you may have lying around), a pair of scissors and glue. We thought we’d leave the instructions to the experts. Watch Little Crafties easy to follow video on how to fold this fun little ornament.

Split image of colourful paper ornaments


Let Nature Do the Talking

Rosemary Wreath

Next time you’re walking down the fruit and veg aisle, take a look around with a different mindset. Fresh herbs such as rosemary not only make an excellent accompaniment to your Christmas dinner but make the most fragrant and beautiful  Christmas decorations. You can tie sprigs of rosemary together to form a wreath and can be as large or small as you’d like. Smaller wreaths can be used to hang in your tree or even as napkin rings for your Christmas table.

Christmas wreaths can be made from several different things, so next time you’re on a walk, notice what’s around you. Take a tote bag with you and pick up any leaves, twigs or flowers you find on the way and bring them home for a fun Christmas craft activity.

Split image of rosemary wreathe Christmas Decorations


Orange you glad it’s almost Christmas?

Pomander! No, we didn’t know it had a name either. We’re talking about those beautiful little oranges decorated with cloves and smelling oh so gorgeous you find around Christmas. Incredibly simple to assemble and make a stunning centrepiece to any Christmas table. Fill your home with the beautiful aromatics many of us associate with this time of year. You can arrange your little cloves in whatever pattern you’d like and if the little ones are struggling to push the cloves through the orange peel, use a toothpick to pre perforate them.

Cloves are a natural preserving agent, which means you’re beautiful decorations will last!

Split image of pomanders



Zero Waste Christmas Gift Wrapping

Christmas gift wrapping can be such a faff, but it is a beautiful part of Christmas day!

The excitement of trying to figure out what has been wrapped up so beautifully for you under the Christmas tree, watching the glee on someone else’s face when they start to unwrap the gift you so lovingly wrapped for them – there’s no greater feeling! The only downside? All of the waste! Sellotape, glitter, plastic ribbons, the list goes on, all of which contribute to an additional 3 million tonnes of waste.

There are ways to reduce your Christmas wrapping waste, so here are two of our favourites to start you off:


Get Crafty

Kraft Paper

We all know kraft paper as being brown, lifeless and unimaginative, but instead of seeing it in that way, why not start to look at all the opportunities it presents? A blank canvas to express yourself with. Stamps are a fun way to add some interest to usually dull kraft wrapping paper, make it eco-friendly by using potato stamps! A throwback to childhood and fun for all ages. The simple look of kraft paper, simple pattern and natural twine is very reminiscent of Scandi minimalist design. This hygge style for Christmas is becoming more and more popular and with good reason. With a love for natural materials, a Scandi Christmas is a more eco-friendly way to celebrate the occasion.

You didn’t think that in the 21st century we’d leave you hanging with brown kraft paper and potato stamps did you? While some may love that minimalist, Scandi look, some of us love colour and can’t be bothered to decorate our wrapping paper. Luckily many people are realising the importance of creating eco-friendly gift wrapping options and finding recyclable wrapping paper is easier than ever. Why not support a small business in the process. We love to trawl sites such as Etsy who give small businesses the chance to shine, especially during a time when home businesses need our help more than ever!


Split image of gifts wrapped in kraft paper

As a side note, we’d like to add that recyclable wrapping paper is rather pointless if you’re still using plastic tape to secure your gifts. Thankfully recyclable tape is easy to get your hands on, and we encourage everyone to make the switch! Remember that wrapping can also be reused, which is another excellent way to ensure you’re contributing to a zero-waste Christmas. Remember the motto reduce, reuse, recycle!



Furoshiki is the Japanese art of wrapping items in cloth for easy transportation and wrapping presents. When it comes to zero waste Christmas wrapping, we believe furoshiki to be the ultimate solution! Wrapping presents in a reusable fabric ensures that you and your gift recipient aren’t contributing to landfill. Why not consider wrapping your gift in a decorative tea towel which will not only look good, keep your gift protected but also has a practical use!

If you’d like to stick to a more traditional way of furoshiki, there are a few tips you need to keep in mind.

  1. Furoshiki uses a square piece of fabric. The fabric can be any size as long as it is square.
  2. Use reversible fabrics to add interest.
  3. Your fabric should be thick enough to keep your gift secure when carrying it.

Split image of furoshiki and a tying technique



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