eco friendly christmas decorations - wreath

7 Ideas for Eco-Friendly Christmas Decorations (Kid-Friendly)

Think twice before you rush in to buy pretty Christmas decorations this year. Most of them are made with plastic and toxic paints. 

But there’s a better alternative. 

You can make your own eco-friendly Christmas decorations! I promise it’s not that hard, and it’ll make you feel great for two reasons:

  1. You’ll buy less plastic.
  2. You’ll get that fuzzy feeling from making the decorations yourself!

We transformed our Christmas tree a few years back, and I still smile whenever I think about it.

Here’s what we’ll cover below:

Why Store-Bought Christmas Decorations Are Bad for the Environment

There are a few reasons why Christmas decorations aren’t the best for the environment, and they all have to do with our shopping habits. Let’s take a closer look:

The Materials

While they’re beautiful, and I admit that cute and tiny decorations are among my weaknesses, many holiday ornaments are made of plastic and painted with toxic materials that are harmful to the environment. 

Not to mention that they’re also wrapped in plastic packaging several times before you buy them at your local store.

It’s true that shops are offering us more and more natural Christmas decorations, but that doesn’t solve the other problems around this issue. Namely:

How Christmas Decorations Are Made

What’s the real-life equivalent of Santa’s hard-working elves? 600 factories in Yiwu, China. That’s where 60% of our Christmas decorations come from. 

The people who make most of the pretty holiday ornaments work 12 hours a day and earn between $240 and $370 a month. And during that time, they have to constantly wear a face mask to avoid breathing the dust. And I bet they breathe some in anyway. 

The Elephant in the Room — Overconsumption

Overconsumption is why the holidays will always be bad for the environment. They bring out the worst in us, and it should be the other way around. 

There are many reasons for our mass spending over Christmas, and it’ll take us a long time to realize that we should let go of them. We don’t need more material objects to be happy. If anything, it’s quite the opposite.

And that’s why I’m in favor of zero waste and upcycled Christmas decorations. But also because it’s a fun family activity that will create memories you’ll cherish forever. 

So, let’s find the best ideas for DIY Christmas ornaments and get our hands dirty!

eco-friendly christmas ornaments

7 Ideas for Eco-Friendly Christmas Decorations

You’ll notice a few common rules for all of the DIY ornaments below. They only use natural materials you already have at home or materials that you can easily find in the nearby park.

You can also make turn this into a fun Christmas tradition — making new sustainable decorations every year. Here’s how to start:

DIY Christmas Tree

We made ours out of branches we collected in the park a few years back.

What you’ll need:

  • Branches
  • String

Instructions:

  1. Gather branches. 
  2. Make a tree silhouette out of the branches. 
  3. Trim some of them if necessary. 
  4. Attach the branches with string, preserving the tree shape. 
  5. Put your favorite natural Christmas tree ornaments on.

It’s an easy-to-store and sustainable tree that you can reuse for many years. Also, it’s a neat solution if you have a cat. We hung ours from a bookshelf. Sure, the cat still dreams of taking it down, but he can’t reach that high.

Dried Orange DIY Christmas Tree Garland

Instead of spending money on plastic garlands, spread the smell of Christmas around your home with real oranges. 

What you’ll need:

  • Oranges
  • Thread and needle

Instructions:

  1. Buy a bunch of oranges — The quantity depends on how many garlands you want. Keep in mind that they also make great tree ornaments. 
  2. Slice them into pieces and juice them out.
  3. Bake them in the oven at 250°F for around two hours.
  4. Leave them to cool off for a few days.
  5. Put the orange pieces together in a garland using a thread and a needle.

Bonus tip: If you want a more festive garland, you can also peel a few oranges and cut the peels with Christmas cookie cutters. 

Your house will smell good and you’ll have fantastic natural Christmas decor. There are no downsides to this DIY project.

Festive Cinnamon Sticks

While we’re on the topic of great Christmas smells and natural ornaments, cinnamon sticks are another top choice.

What you’ll need:

  • Cinnamon sticks 
  • String
  • Ribbon

Instructions:

  1. Use a string to tie your cinnamon sticks together. 
  2. Add a beautiful ribbon to hide the string.

That’s it! You now have a traditional ornament that will look and smell like Christmas.

christmas DIY decor with pine cones and thread

Cardboard Handmade Wreath

If you have an extra cardboard box lying around (and who doesn’t), you can make a beautiful wreath out of it.

What you’ll need:

  • Cardboard box
  • Plate and bowl
  • Scissors
  • String (lots of string)
  • Tiny nature Christmas decorations — pine cones, anise, dried orange pieces, hazelnuts, walnuts, pine branches, cinnamon sticks, or anything else that’s suitable and you already have at home.
  • Glue gun

Instructions:

  1. Draw a circle on the cardboard using a plate. The size is up to you.
  2. Draw a smaller circle inside the first one using a smaller plate or a bowl.
  3. Cut your wreath into shape.
  4. Wind up the string all over the cardboard. It’s time-consuming, but it looks so good!
  5. Use the glue gun to stick the tiny natural ornaments to your wreath however you like. 
  6. Don’t forget to add another string at the top so you can hang your wreath!

It’s among those DIY easy Christmas decorations anyone can do!

Paper Snowflakes

We made these every Christmas back when I was a kid. They’re incredibly easy and fun to make. Plus, they look pretty. 

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Paper
  • Scissors

Aside from that, a bit of creativity will do the trick. 

Instructions:

  1. Cut the paper into square pieces — the bigger the pieces, the bigger the snowflakes.
  2. Fold the paper in half to make a triangle. 
  3. Fold the triangle again, connecting the pointed corners.
  4. Use the scissors to make cutouts.
  5. Unfold the paper to reveal your snowflake!

You can search for a paper snowflake template online, but I suggest you have some fun with it first. The snowflakes always look good. 

This is among my favorite recyclable Christmas ornament ideas because you don’t need special materials. Plus, it’s a fantastic activity for children. 

Bonus tip: Cutting in straight lines is a lot easier than trying to come up with curved shapes. 

Handmade Christmas Stockings 

If you’re confident about your needlework, you can make your own Christmas stockings. I’m sure you have some old clothes you don’t want to throw away but can’t make any use of either. 

I promise it’s not that hard as long as you know how to sew. And even if you don’t, I’m sure a handy YouTube tutorial can teach you in a few minutes. It’s an invaluable skill if you want to work on your eco-friendly habits.

What you’ll need for these upcycled Christmas decorations:

  • Cardboard (big enough for a stocking shape)
  • Enough fabric to cut at least 2 stocking shapes
  • Scissors
  • Needle & thread

Instructions:

  1. Draw your stocking on the cardboard and cut it into shape.
  2. Place the cardboard shape on the fabric and cut two stockings out of it (mind the toe directions).
  3. Sew the cut fabric on the back side along the lining, leaving around 2 inches to turn the stockings inside out. Don’t forget to leave the top open for presents!
  4. Tuck a bit of the fabric around the opening and sew it along the lining for a better look.
  5. Cut a strip of the fabric and make a loop out of it.
  6. Sew the loop at the top of the stocking so that you can hang it wherever you like.

That’s among the easiest Christmas decorations DIY ideas. If you have older children, you can use it as an opportunity to teach them needlework.

Bonus tip: If you’re into embroidery, you can try and make some snowflakes or Christmas trees before you sew the whole stocking.

Nature’s Finest Christmas Centerpiece

Let’s not forget to decorate the table. This centerpiece is all-natural and brings out the true spirit of the holiday. 

What you’ll need:

  • Bowl or plate 
  • Evergreen branches
  • Pine cones
  • Candle(s)

All you have to do is arrange all that into gorgeous natural Christmas decorations. You can put the candle in the middle of the bowl or plate and arrange the rest around it however you see fit. 

You can also add any leftover ornaments, walnuts, tangerines, cinnamon sticks, or anything else you have on hand that screams Christmas.

Final Thoughts

Christmas is the holiday we spent the most money on. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

Instead of buying more plastic, you can try making your own eco-friendly Christmas decorations. Check my 7 ideas above and organize a fun activity for your children or loved ones. This way, you can create memories that will last a lifetime and preserve the holiday spirit in its traditional way — in harmony with nature.

Merry Christmas!

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