As winter approaches so does the festive season. With holiday spirit abound our consumption habits also increases. In the spirt of sharing and gift giving we present to you some suggestions to help keep waste to a minimum this holiday season.

Give experiences instead of things and make new memories

The holidays are about spending time with the people who matter. Instead of a trinket, knick-knack, or sweater, think of an experience to enjoy together: tickets to theatre, sports, or music event; a night out to a restaurant; or a day at a spa.

Re-gifting is just another word for reuse

Received a gift you don’t want or need (or like)? Someone else may just want, need (or like) that item! Instead of buying new just reuse the gift for someone else.

Host a gift swap

After the holidays why not host a holiday gift swap party with friends, family, or colleagues.

Ditch specialty wrapping and get creative

Make your gift even more original by wrapping it with a little flair. Try using magazine pages, newsprint, old calendars, or comics pages. If a gift already comes in a nice box or bag there’s also no need to add more wrapping. You can also try the art of furoshiki (cloth) wrapping. Or attach Christmas cards from years past on the product’s original packaging. (If you do buy wrapping paper do avoid the shiny metallic or glossy types, as it cannot be recycled.) Check out Gift Wrapping Tips from Waste Reduction Week in Canada!

Encourage waste reduction

Have a special someone that generates a lot of waste? Why not encourage sustainability with some neat items: beeswax food wrappers, reusable mugs or containers, bamboo toothbrushes, stainless steel straws, and reusable shopping bags.

Don’t forget your own shopping bag

More than one billion single-use plastic bags are handed out in Canada every year. Most of these are handed out during the holiday season, so always make sure you bring a reusable bag with you when doing your holiday shopping. Not to mention the big guy with the big beard carries the same bag for all the gifts every year.

Make your own gifts

Save money and reduce packaging waste by making your own gifts such as baked goods in reusable containers, homemade bath bombs, homemade jewelry, or mason jar recipes.

Same box same wrapping: different present

Put gifts in a shoebox or other appropriately sized vessel and wrap it as you normally would. Make the wrapping easy to disassemble, and reuse the box and wrapping paper for next year.

Sustainable greetings

If grandparents still want a hand-written note and don’t have email… consider using cards printed with soy- or water-based ink and printed on post-consumer recycled paper.

Quality time

Who doesn’t love doing Christmas crafts? Get together with friends or make a day of it with kids to get creative and make your own ornaments, decorations, cards, and wrapping paper. There’s lots of cool ideas using recycled or upcycled material: recycled giftwrap garland, gift bags from old maps and books, upcycled sweater ornaments, or an upcycled sweater wreath. Check out Waste Reduction Week in Canada’s Holiday Pinterest board for more ideas!

Keep it real

Choose real poinsettias, Christmas trees, wreaths, and arrangements for decoration instead of artificial plastic ones. Once the holidays are over everything can be composted. Bonus holiday tip: go outside and find fallen pinecones, evergreen branches, and twigs to make wreathes and centrepieces. You can mix a fragrant potpourri by filling a jar with dried stems or fallen needles, as well as citrus rind and other fragrant spices.