How to Go Green With Silv: Green Holiday Decorations by Silvia Milanova, December 09 2015, 0 Comments

Fresh Wreath

For some, the holidays have become a time of chaos; a dire search for the perfect gift, pressure to entertain to perfection and 'obligatory' fancy decorations that cover every inch of house and tree. But let’s not forget what the holiday season is really about—love and family! To me, there’s nothing better than cooking a few healthy dishes, putting on a nice dress and enjoying the company of family and friends on Christmas Eve. Oh yeah, and the occasional glass of wine doesn't hurt. 

I’m sure we all have our favorite memories surrounding this jolly season. But during the last few years, I’ve realized that I don’t have to get everyone a grandiose gift or spend all day cooking to fulfill every request, or even stuff the house with unnecessary decorations and trinkets—can you say, crowded? Instead, my family and I have opted for a few simpler traditions, and with that, more eco-friendly decorations.

Here are a few of my favorites that I think you’ll find pretty and useful.

For Your Tree:

  • Tree ornaments made of wood, wool, straw or organic cotton. Avoid the usual (toxic) plastic and breakable glass and opt instead for ornaments made of more natural materials, such as these wool felt balls. You can buy eco-friendly ornaments online, find them in local craft or boutique stores, or if you’re feeling adventurous, even make your own!
  • Colorful paper chain garlands. Scrap the shiny weaves of plastic. Instead, engage your kids in a fun, crafty holiday project! Involve them by asking your children to pick a color theme, cut 12+ rings (or another shape) from colored sheets of paper, and loop and glue the shapes together. Ta da! You’ve got your very own, homemade, paper chain garland. You can find fancier and more intricate garland projects online, like a gingerbread man or snowflake chain.

For Your House/Dinner Table:

  • Small clear glass vases filled with boughs of holly/cranberries/floating candles (or anything else of your choosing). Forget the complicated centerpiece that limits table space and disrupts your view of the person sitting across from you. Replace it with a small personal vase filled with your favorite holiday greens and flowers. You can reuse and repurpose the vases at the end of the season and find branches and tree scraps outside or at your local tree merchant—remember to compost them when done. These table decors can also serve as cute holiday take-home gifts for larger dinner parties with many guests.
  • Soy candles spread throughout the house. Use strategically placed candles to add warmth to the atmosphere, light up the darkness and spread the holiday cheer. Whether you’re celebrating Christmas or Hanukkah, light plays an important role in the holiday season. Replace your traditional candles—which contain toxic chemicals such as paraffin, lead, benzene and synthetic fragrances that pollute the indoor air—with 100 percent soy or beeswax-based candles scented with essential oils. When you’re not worried about indoor pollution or harmful chemicals permeating the air, you can illuminate your home with warm holiday light.

For Outside/Your Door:

  • Handmade or locally made wreath. Just like a tree, a wreath can also become crowded with various decorations that conceal the green’s natural beauty. Let its natural features shine through by choosing a few additions that compliment it. I personally like the holiday combination of green and red, as seen in a simple ring intertwined with cranberries. But I also really love this idea of adding cheerful words or holiday wishes to a plain wreath. This gives you the freedom to customize the messages by language, tradition, holiday or family preference. 
    • Bonus: this can become another great art project with the kids!
    • Remember: you can compost the wreath at the end of the season.
So whether you’re entertaining a small village or only your immediate relatives, your decorations can reflect the green, peaceful, simple intention of the holiday season. These are just some ideas to get you started. If you’re feeling super involved and want to go all “eco friendly” out, consider other options, such as making stockings from old shirts or sweaters and buying a Christmas tree you can plant. By reducing our impact on the environment during the holiday season, we can share love with not only our loved ones, but also Mother Nature.