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22 Green Fairy Tips for a Green and Inexpensive Christmas 13.11.07

This year, there’s no need to let Christmas get you stressed and leave you skint. Friends of the Earth’s green Xmas fairy is on hand with some ideas that will help you to put the love back into Christmas and go easy on the planet - as well as your purse strings. Here are some of her ideas for presents, parties and decorations that won’t cost the earth.

Love vouchers and olive oil - make it with love

- Make some personalised favour vouchers to give to your loved ones. These could promise breakfast in bed, help in the garden, or even to do the washing for a week. Or if it’s someone particularly close you may want to make your love tokens a little more racy.

- Make someone feel special by making them a personalised recycled paper photo album of all your treasured snaps.

- Encourage wildlife and practice your DIY skills by making a bird box for a friend or relative.

- Going retro and standby busting - buying without bling

- If you’ve got a big group of people to buy for, cut down on the stress of choosing presents by organising a `Secret Santa’ - agree a gift budget which everyone must to stick to, pick one name each out of a hat, then everyone only has to buy one present.

- For budding eco-enthusiasts, `Save Cash and Save the Planet’, published by Friends of the Earth is packed with ideas on how you can save money and help the planet. Naturalchoices Bookshop

-  Go retro - try flea markets, antique jewellery and vintage clothing shops for second hand gifts. You’ll be giving a unique present, as well as recycling.

-  Encourage composting by buying your green fingered friends a wormery. It’s a great way of turning food scraps into good quality compost and saving on the amount of waste that goes to landfill.

- Buy a Standby Buster for the gadget addict in your life. The Standby Buster is a remote controlled electrical socket that lets you switch appliances off completely so that they use no electricity. Leaving them on standby unnecessarily uses electricity costing you money and contributing to Carbon Dioxide (CO2) emissions.

- Buy your friends download vouchers instead of CDs.

- Instead of buying DVD’s give your pals a subscription to a DVD rental service such as Lovefilm so that they can enjoy having the new releases to their door all year round.

- Help to protect Britain’s remaining woodlands by dedicating a tree to someone with the Woodland Trust.

- Think about quality when you’re buying your Christmas gifts: don’t fall into the trap of buying something cheap and cheerful that will need replacing in a few months.

- Eat, drink and be merry - keep it local, compost your sprouts and use your leftovers

- Opt for seasonal local food and drink. A traditional Christmas dinner is made up of seasonal British produce: buying your food from a local market or grocer helps the local economy and cuts down on food miles, which contribute to climate change.

- If you’re having a party, avoid serving food and drink on disposable plates and cups - they will just add to our growing mountain of waste. Invite your neighbours and ask if you can borrow some extra crockery from them. Many wine shops lend boxes of wine glasses, if you’re buying your drinks from them.

- Instead of throwing away all those sprout peelings, why not put your vegetable leftovers in a compost bin? Around 4,000 million sprouts are bought in the week before Christmas, so there’s a lot of composting just waiting to happen.

- It’s tempting to over-buy food at Christmas, but save yourself some cash by trying to plan menus for the holiday season. With a bit of thought you can use most of your leftovers, potatoes and vegetables can be made into bubble and squeak; turkey or meat could be added to a curry; and you could try making stock from the carcass.

Green fairies - decorating the house and wrapping your presents

- Use Friends of the Earth’s Christmas card re-use labels.

- Don’t waste your money on wrapping paper. Flick through some old magazines to find funny or meaningful pictures to use instead. Then personalise your presents by picking pictures that will make your friends and family laugh.

- Get creative with the Christmas decorations - if you’ve got kids why not have a session making Christmas decorations out of recycled materials, pine cones and recycled card.

Oh and don’t forget to recycle all your old jokes.

Peter Shield

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