If you’d like to have a greener Christmas this year, you might not know where to start. Just what is wasteful and what isn’t? Is it more or less eco-friendly to have a live Christmas tree? What about lights?

It can get confusing, so here are some basic instructions on how to make your Christmas greener.

1. Get
a live Christmas tree. Trees with a root ball can be planted it in your yard or donated to a home-building project in your community for landscaping. A cut Christmas tree can be recycled as mulch, used as shelter for overwintering birds, or broken up for kindling.

2. Invest in light-emitting diodes, or LED, Christmas lights instead of conventional bulbs. These use much less energy and last a lot longer. You won’t be testing and throwing out strands of lights year after year if you use LEDs.

3. Make your own wrapping paper and gift packaging. Old maps, books, magazines, colorful newspaper, and other scrap paper can be used to wrap gifts.

4. Get the family involved in making your own Christmas decorations around the home. Make paper chains from cut-up holiday catalogues. Weave wreaths from evergreen cuttings. Glue pinecones to a foam circle to make a wreath or centerpiece.

5. Do your Christmas shopping at antique and second-hand stores, or charity organizations. Keep an eye out at yard and garage sales for items in good condition. Tea cups, mugs, framed pictures, scarves, books and jewelry are all used items that make good gifts.

6. Save the wrapping paper and packaging from your less-green friends. Use it again, or make decorations from it. Wrap empty boxes in used wrapping paper for decorative “gifts.” Make Christmas cards from cardboard packaging and wrapping paper. Packing peanuts can be strung on thread to make a pretty chain for your tree.

7. Make your own Christmas gifts. Homemade bath salts, baked goods, candy, herbal teas, etc. make great gifts. Children enjoy homemade puppets, play-dough, and other items.

8. Buy gift certificates to restaurants and local businesses for some of the people on your gift list.

9. Keep entertainment simple and fun. Rather than throwing a lavish, wasteful party, why not have a sledding or snowman building party? Gather your friends in a few vehicles and sight-see all the Christmas lights in your community. Or have a party that centers on local, organic foods and reusable tableware. Encourage guests to car pool, and send electronic rather than paper invitations.

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