Zero waste Christmas decorations are more important than ever this year.
Firstly, if you pick or forage most of your decorations from gardens or the countryside, you don’t need to rely on deliveries or supply chains.
And decorations from the garden are usually free, too.
Plus when Christmas is over, they can go on the compost heap or into the green waste bin.
My definition of ‘zero waste Christmas decorations’ are things found in the garden, responsibly gathered from the countryside or involve re-using decorations we already have. I do often buy one set of new lights each year, but otherwise, almost all the decorations come from the garden or the countryside. And they go into the compost after New Year.
How to make a twig wreath from tree trimmings
It’s considered best to prune silver birch trees before Christmas, so use the trimmings to make the perfect zero waste Christmas wreath.
I’ve made a twig wreath almost every year for the past few years. People often comment – it’s so simple that it stands out from the more elaborate decorations everywhere else.
And it goes on the fire in the New Year, so it’s very sustainable.
See the ‘how to’ tips demonstrated in video here.
Or if you prefer reading a post, here is How to Make A Twig Wreath From Tree Trimmings on the blog. The lights are a small battery string, and I concealed the battery under the ribbon. You can buy star battery lights like these from Amazon. I bought mine three years ago and they really make a difference on a table or in a wreath.
Make a giant wreath with tree prunings
An extra-large wreath looks extravagant and can cost quite a bit. But you can make it yourself on a minimum budget, using a child’s hoola hoop and garden clippings. Get your giant wreath instructions here.
Make jam jar Christmas lanterns with garden clippings:
Julie Davies of Flowerstart, runs floristry workshops and online floristry courses. She gave me the instructions for the twig wreath.
She also showed me how to do some charming Christmas table lanterns with seed-heads and twigs found in the garden. You can tie twigs or large evergreen leaves around jam jars, holding them in place with natural twine. It really is that easy.
You can see more detail in Jam Jar Christmas.
Zero waste festive table decorations
You can decorate your Christmas table almost entirely with evergreen leaves, ivy, twigs, pine cones and fruit.
Just cut lengths of ivy and thread them down the center of the table. Add brightly colored fruit, such as oranges, tangerines and lemons. Wind the ivy carefully around the candles, remembering to keep them clear of the wick. (Candles must not be left unattended).
There are more detailed instructions here in Christmas table decorations from the garden. Or see how quickly the table can be decorated on this video.
How to forage for your zero waste Christmas decorations
Turn a weekend walk into a zero waste Christmas decorating expedition.
You can pick up fallen twigs and use them in your wreath and jam jar lights…but
Until 2008, everyone had the right to gather up fallen wood and twigs as part of our Magna Carta rights, but this was rescinded by a European directive.
So you don’t always technically have the right to pick up twigs and branches you find on the street or in the park. It’s hard to imagine that anyone is going to complain, but they could.
It’s always worth asking permission to forage from local landowners, the council or the National Trust.
Although rights are different in different places, you can usually gather twigs and flower heads from verges and common land in the UK, as long as you don’t dig up plants. But you can’t forage for something you intend to sell, unless you’ve obtained permission.
And because there are so many different regulations in different places, always check what the legal situation is where you are.
Decorating with lawn moss
Our lawn is very mossy and will definitely need re-seeding. This is another great idea from Julie Davies, and I will certainly be peeling up the moss from our lawn to use in decorating this year.
Wildlife-friendly garden decorations
If you’re decorating your garden, porch or the outside of your house, consider the effect on wildlife.
Christmas lights are so cheering, but if you leave them on all night you may disrupt the sleeping patterns of wildlife. Put them on a timer.
The wonderful Abbey Physic Garden in Faversham is organic and eco-friendly. I found some great wildlife-friendly outdoor Christmas decorating ideas there that didn’t involve lights or plastic. The poor birds get woken up by brightly flashing Christmas lights.
However, I do love Christmas lights, so perhaps another compromise is to use solar garden lights which don’t charge up for long in the winter, so they go off early in the night. I know that’s another opportunity for shopping, but you may already have them. I bought the iihome 50 LED Solar String Lights from Amazon.
See here for more wildlife friendly garden tips. And keep your gardening eco-friendly all year round with How to Create an Easy Sustainable Garden.
And if you don’t have a garden, then friends or family may be happy to let you have some of their clippings. Perhaps you can offer to help them in the garden in return.
Even if you have to buy twigs or greenery from a local florist or farm shop, you are still having a plastic-free Christmas.
And do spread the word about zero waste Christmas decorating by sharing this post if you also believe in it. Thank you!
Christmas gifts for gardeners
It also reduces Christmas waste if you give people gifts they find useful or really want. So I asked a number of leading gardening influencers and bloggers to recommend Christmas gifts for garden lovers at under £50.
Books are always a good gift. Here is my pick of the best gardening books of 2022 – see how to pick the right gardening book for everyone on your list.
Pin to remember zero waste Christmas decorations
The Middlesized Garden blog comes out every two weeks in December, and weekly for the rest of the year. See here for a free weekly email with gardening tips, ideas and inspiration.