As the holidays approach you may want to update your space to align with the season. Adding sustainable holiday decorations, like seasonal colors and textures, is a great way to elevate your space without using plastic pumpkins or polyester snowmen. Artificial holiday decor likely won’t add to your personal style. And when you’re finished with them, these items often end up rotting away in a landfill.
A depressing image no matter how jolly your snowman looks when you purchase it.
There’s no reason to settle for plastic decor when there are so many other sustainable options. Sustainable decor for indoor and outdoor holiday decorating will blend seamlessly into your interior design without harming the environment.
Create a festive and eco-friendly home this season with our sustainable holiday decorating tips.
How Can I Decorate Sustainably For The Holidays?
Use What You Have
While it’s tempting to flip through your favorite catalog and order beautiful holiday decor, it’s more sustainable to use what you already have. Focus on your favorites by asking your family what’s meaningful to them. Your daughter may love your whimsical ceramic tree while your husband can’t imagine a holiday without his grandfather’s gold menorah.
Then, you can use those meaningful pieces as inspiration to design around.
For decor you no longer need, host a holiday decor swap party with friends! Have everyone bring their spooky Halloween signs, Thanksgiving platters, and sparkly ornaments. Give new life to old items by giving or trading. You may find something perfect for your mantle and give new life to old items. Share anything left on your local buy-nothing group. It’s a great way to gift your things to someone who will use them and keep them out of the landfill.
If you don’t have a lot of decorations, ask older relatives if they have holiday decor they want to part with. They’ll be happy you’re giving their pieces a second life and you’ll fill your home with sentimental pieces. The next time you host a holiday party, you’ll have a lot of fun telling your guests about the folks who gave you the pieces!
Choose Natural Materials
Decorate your holiday table with natural materials like pine cones, evergreen branches, holly, and beeswax candles. Choose natural greenery and mistletoe instead of plastic and compost it at the end of the season. If you like to get creative, check out some of these great sustainable decor ideas on Pinterest.
For items that aren’t compostable, invest in reusable items. Fill a wooden advent calendar with new treats each year or hang a joyful banner that can be used for all your celebrations. It may become something your family looks forward to every year.
What are the most sustainable holiday decorations?
Holiday lights can be magical and bring holiday cheer, but they also use a lot of energy. NASA has documented some areas of the earth are 20-50% brighter during the holidays due to outdoor holiday decorating.
To help reduce your carbon footprint, use solar-powered lights whenever you can. They use less energy and can last for several years. If that’s not an option, LED lights are a good alternative and use 75% less energy than incandescent bulbs.
If you’re looking for a soft, vintage glow, straight out of a Christmas Story, we recommend Tru-Tone lights! They’re a sustainable option for more traditional decor.
When it comes to a Christmas tree, there’s a long standing debate on which is most sustainable. Theodore Roosevelt even famously banned Christmas trees from the White House to help combat clear cutting.
- Artificial Christmas trees are only as sustainable as a real one if you use it for 8-9 years. The production of artificial trees harms the environment and 85% are made in China, which creates a huge carbon footprint when shipped to the US.
- Real Christmas trees are more sustainable – especially when potted. They’ll absorb carbon and you can plant them after the holidays. Find one at a local tree farm or rent from a center like Potted Christmas Tree Company. If you’re near Denver buy or rent from Front Range Landscape and Nursery or Creek Side Tree Nursery. At the end of the season, plant or compost it to create nutrient-rich soil instead of sending it to the landfill.
- Non-Traditional Christmas trees are another sustainable option. Try an eco-friendly wooden tree from this Australian alternative tree company. Get creative and decorate a houseplant, or stack books or gifts to create the perfect tree you can take apart when done.
Decorate your tree with organic or biodegradable materials that will break down or can be easily composted. Look for ornaments crafted from pine cones, wool, or reclaimed wood.
This is also a perfect way to get your little helpers (if you have kids) involved with sustainable holiday decorating. Create salt dough decorations in seasonal shapes, cut recycled paper snowflakes, or string popcorn, dried citrus, and cranberries for your tree. You can even prolong your holiday cheer by turning your wine corks into a festive garland.
A holiday wreath is often your home’s first impression. Make your own from materials you find in nature like evergreen boughs, pinecones, and dried flowers. Attach them to a reusable wood frame or recycled metal hanger until you can compost the pieces at the end of the season. Fresh greens last for months, so a simple swap from a paper bat to cinnamon stick snowflakes can take your holiday wreath from Halloween to the new year.
Looking for a sustainable option without making it yourself? Check your local garden center for real wreaths made locally.
You may not think of wrapping paper as indoor holiday decorating, but when packages sit in your living room for a month, they tend to become part of the room.
Keep your gifts in line with your style and protect our environment by choosing reusable decorative boxes and canvas gift bags. You can also wrap gifts in tea towels the recipient can take home.
This swap not only makes for beautiful gifts but has the power to save 50,000 trees from being turned into the 8,000 tons of wrapping paper we use each year.
Holiday Decorations To Avoid (Least Sustainable Holiday Decorations)
The holidays are a great time to show off your unique style, but there are some items everyone should avoid.
- Tinsel: This traditional decor is made from harmful plastic produced using petroleum oil. It’s also not easily recycled and can end up polluting the environment when you discard your tree.
- Artificial greenery: Faux greenery is made using toxic chemicals that can leach into the environment. Real greenery is compostable when you’re done with it, while the artificial options will sit in the landfill for thousands of years.
- Spray snow: If you’re wishing for a winter wonderland, don’t try to create one with a snow machine. They use an incredible amount of water and energy. Even the little bottles of aerosol snow for your windows can pose health risks from toxic chemicals. If you live in a climate without white Christmas’, plan a winter getaway to enjoy the real thing for a few days.
- Non-LED lights: LED lights are so available now there’s no reason to stick with old energy-draining bulbs. LED lights save 75% more energy and last 50 times longer. If you still have some of the old strands in storage, make a plan to recycle and replace them.
- Giant blow-ups: These outdoor displays need a lot of energy to stay inflated. They also tear easily which means they’ll likely end up in the landfill at the end of the season.
Should I Consider Rentals or Hiring a Holiday Decorating Service? Can they provide sustainable holiday decorations?
Working with a local holiday decor rental company can be a sustainable option. It can also help you stay up to date on the latest styles without taking up space in your garage or basement. When looking for a holiday decorating company, be sure to mention that sustainability is important to you. Ask about options with a lower environmental impact.
You can find holiday rental services like Rent a Christmas in almost any city. There are some amazing holiday decorating services right here in the Denver area. Designscapes Colorado can install seasonal lighting for Halloween or Christmas and Christmas Lighting Colorado can even create a custom display.
You’ll be able to enjoy a fully decorated home without having to climb a ladder to put up outside holiday decorations. Hiring a decorating service is also a great option if you don’t have a lot of time, but would love a more festive home, or if you’re hosting a big holiday party!
Focus On What Matters For The Most Sustainable Holiday
No matter what holiday you’re preparing for, the most sustainable holiday idea is always less is more. The holiday season is about the memories you make, not about the number of lights, ornaments, place settings, or candles you have in your house.
Ready to deck the halls? Schedule a consultation with our principal designer, Megan! She’s offering a limited amount of holiday decor consultations in the month of November. It’s one way to guarantee your house will shine all throughout the holiday season!
If you’re ready to learn more about sustainable design, check out our blog on principles of sustainable interior design.