Are you looking for ways to have a sustainable, eco-friendly Christmas? Then look no further… I’ve compiled my top tips – tried and true! They’ll also probably save you money – BONUS. Because we all are feeling the pinch at this time of year, right?!

There’s no denying that our modern day consumeristic society comes to it’s fore during December… plastic covered decorations and toys flying off the shelves, that throwaway Secret Santa gift you got “just for fun”, mountains of wrapping paper that can’t/won’t be recycled.

Whilst I’m not trying to be the Christmas Grinch, I can’t help but walk the shop aisles thinking of all the waste that will be going to the landfill after Christmas; packaging, wrapping paper, broken toys, unwanted gifts… the list can go on. Once you’ve started on your zero-waste journey, your eyes are opened to all of this and it’s hard to close them again.

And although the biggest solution lies in manufacturers’ and retailers hands, there’s also a lot of change we can make by intentionally focus on reducing our waste as individuals.

It’s a start, and you have to start somewhere!

Intentional purchasing with the environment in mind is a way your family can make a difference. Small seeds grow great trees.

So what are some ways you can reduce your family’s environmental impact over the ‘silly season’?

Here’s some ideas… most of which I’ve done myself at one point or another (not to be a show off but just to say that it is actually possible and these aren’t just ‘pinterest’ ideas!)


I’ve started to make a few over the last few years, or buy from craft stalls at markets. Trade Aid is a great place to find quality decorations too. Beach finds, an angel from a craft market, and stars cut from grapefruit peel are what’s in this photo here:


  • Shop second hand. The ultimate zero waste shopping option. No packaging, less cost, and reusing a preloved item.
  • Shop small. Buy from local makers at craft markets or online. This will reduce your packaging, and often mean you’re buying excellent quality. Here’s an AMAZING list from GlowMama blog, listing lots of NZ Makers! Gosh, I want to start shopping all over again now…
  • Experiences not toys: I remember my parents gifting us concert tickets for Christmas growing up – BEST presents as teenagers, right?
  • Practical items not toys: I’m a huge fan of practical gifts and have been known to gift kids’ size gardening kits, handmade playdough, an adventurers’ belt, ‘potions kits’, and kiddie sized tools before. Other ideas could be a pocket knife, a torch, seedlings that you’ve grown (take cuttings and plant them now!) or a small shovel for example. There’s many more ideas in this great list here by Lulastic Blog.
  • Think ‘quality’. Is this item going to stand the test of time? For example, a pet hate of mine are the crappy weak plastic beach toys that places like The Warehouse stock. Instead of buying another crappy weak plastic set, that won’t last more than one season, how about shopping at the Playcentre Shop and buying really good quality buckets and spades instead? You might be surprised at the quite reasonable prices, too.
  • Gift zero-waste living items: for really eco-friendly gifts that keep on giving, check out these lovely gift packages from In My Kitchen. Get someone kick-started on an eco-friendly lifestyle!
  • Subscriptions or passes the gift that keeps on giving! Toy Library, Gondola and Tram Pass, zoo, toy library, animal park, magazine, book, toy library – yes I know I’ve mentioned toy library three times but I just love them so much and think a subscription would make such a great gift for a young family!
  • Gift of time: one year for family secret santa us adults all had to come up with an idea of how we could gift our time to each other; babysitting, gardening, home maintenance, massage were all ideas that were thrown about. These cost you NO money – just your time obviously!
  • Give a joint gift: I have ten nieces and nephews split over three families and for the family groups I’m a huge fan of the joint gift. A board game, a piece of outdoor equipment, or a subscription are examples. It can work out better financially too – get something decent rather than three little random gifts.
  • Gift homemade: bath salts, scented playdough, baking, cordial – get creative! If you have time, that is. These options can save you money, too. It’s not expensive to get supplies for a lot of these things.


Think outside the square when it comes to wrapping your gifts. Paper wrapping paper can be recycled, but the foil variety can’t. However, NZ currently has a recycling problem in that there’s mountains of recycling piling up since China declined to take our recyclables earlier this year, so do try to think outside the square if you can!

A few alternatives are:

  • Use your kids art – free!
  • A roll of brown paper or a roll of newsprint – stamped or drawn on (or not, just leave it plain! Who really cares?!). If you use a roll of newsprint it will save you HEAPS of money, too (you can buy from the Playcentre Shop).
  • A scarf (maybe from the op shop if you’re organised enough).
  • The brown paper bags that your groceries have been delivered in.
  • A box that you’ve had something delivered in, decorated by hand.
  • These gorgeous packs of fabric wraps from Wrapper’s Delight (love!)

These ideas for wrapping do take a wee bit more organisation then just grabbing a roll of wrapping paper from beside the checkout at the supermarket. But start thinking ahead and you’ll ace it. Plus, you won’t spend heaps on wrapping paper this year – YUS!!!


Most of all please don’t feel guilty if you’re not doing these types of things. Jesus is the reason for the season and really, it’s all about spending time, not money. I’m not perfect (remember that no one is)…. perhaps even if you just do a few things from this list you’ll be further along your journey than last year!

How about you, is there anything on this list that resonates, or do you have any other tips for readers? Add them below, if you do!

Meri Kirihemete to you, my blog whanau (Merry Christmas to you, my blog family).

Thank you for reading!

xx Rach.

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