This holiday season feels optimistic, as we may be returning back to our annual traditions. I absolutely love December, the lights, the energy, and the decorations give me so much joy, but one thing I've always struggled with is the impact on the environment. This year, I've decided to start some new traditions, at Hair Holistic and at home, to create a more sustainable holiday season. I've just started and I've already found that I feel more connected and inspired this year.
1. DIY decor
If you follow us online or have been to the studio, you probably notice our holiday decor is slightly different this year. I took inspiration from my childhood, and made a popcorn and cranberry garland, as well as paper snowflakes! I also tried dehydrating orange slices for a gorgeous wall hanging, and I think that one will stay past this holiday season!
Popcorn and Cranberry Garland
I was very excited to try my hand at this, and there were a couple tips that proved very helpful. Make sure you pop your popcorn about a day before stringing it, to reduce the breakage (it's real!), and use a small need to string them together. I decided to add cranberries for a pop of colour, and I was surprised that you can just get a bag from the grocery store! Just make sure to compost (or cook with) the ones that feel juicy. Get full details here.
A word of advice - I thought I remembered how easy it would be to create this classic decoration, but turns out, you may want to turn to the expert. I made a couple sub par ones, then a friend sent me this article by the one and only Martha Stewart, which uplevelled the whole experience. I recommend using very sharp, small scissors to make it easy!
Dried Orange Slices
Okay, this one was new to me, but I think it might be my favourite! Many of the popcorn garlands had incorporated dehydrated orange slices, but once I really got to creating I decided to make separate wall hangings (eternal minimalist here and the garlands were looking "busy"). Most articles will recommend using a mandolin and dehydrator, but fear not, I have neither and it turned out just fine! Make sure to cut the orange slices thinly, and preferably on firm (less juicy oranges). Mine took about 5 hours in the oven at 200 degrees, long, but worth it! String together with a needles and thread or jute, and hang as you wish! Full details here.
2. Gift wrapping
Most gift wrap is made of hard to recycle materials and ends up in the landfill... so it's no surprise that our waste volume goes up by a shocking 25% over the holidays. There are some wonderful ways this can be avoided.
This is a tradition from my family that I have decided to bring back in full force this year. When I was a child, my mom made simple cloth bags in holiday fabric, and they still continue to circulate through my family to this day. I love that they make wrapping so easy, and they remind me of the joy at Christmas when I was young. If you're not a seamstress, don't worry, you can purchase gift bags that will last for generations in your family.
I saw this a couple years ago and have fallen in love with the simple idea since. Simply take a square piece of cloth (available at your local fabric shop), roll gift, and tie the two ends on the top. It looks beautiful, and it will stand out from the rest! The photo above from Wrappr, is amazing, and created by a local Toronto artist.
If all else fails, you can borrow an Osborne classic - the pillowcase. Perfect for last minute wrapping in seconds, and will give the family a story to laugh about (my dad uses this consistently!).
3. Shop Local
Shopping local has some amazing benefits. Firstly, in 2022, small businesses in Canada employed about 10.3million Canadians, an incredible 63.8% of our workforce! I hope you don't have any doubts of the impact you can make simply by supporting these local shops. Second, shopping local has amazing impacts on the environment, by reducing pollution. There is a huge cost to the environment with massive amounts of goods being shipped all over the world. We do need to share good around the world, but many gifts are so easily purchased right in your neighbourhood.
Small businesses may be more intentional with the products they carry, so instead of purchasing something that may be lower quality, think about chatting with a local business for their recommendation. The longer an item lasts, the better it may be for the planet, which is win win!
4. Gift Experiences
As someone who leans more towards a minimalist lifestyle, I love this one. What is better than spending time doing something you love, with the people that bring you joy! Experiences can be something as simple as seeing a movie, a comedy show, or some live music. I love gifting crafts for my nieces that we get to do together, and create some real memories. Bonus: usually by gifting an experience, you can support a local business as well!
5. DIY Gifts
Baking or Food
I am not a baker or a great cook, but the holiday season is when I do love to make gifts for my friends and family. I put on some Christmas music, or a movie, and enjoy baking for an evening! My favourite thing to make is this version of a homemade Turtles candy, that tastes even better in my opinion.
Gift baskets are an amazing way to curate a gift for someone, especially someone who may be harder to buy for! Whether it's some nourishing body care, a bottle of wine and some cheeses, or some cozy socks, a book and an eye mask, it's sure to be well loved by the recipient. Many items are easy to pickup from local stores, and some will even have them gift wrapped for you!
Reducing our impact on the planet doesn't have to be hard. In fact, in my experience, it can make the holiday season feel more meaningful. As we find our way back to "normal" let's be intentional about how we move forward.