How to have a more eco-friendly Christmas

....plus reduce stress, spending, and waste to put the joy back into your joyeux Nöel
Photography: Louisa Parry

It’s the most wonderful time of the year… or, at least, it’s supposed to be. Yet, for many, Christmas can equal excess expectations and extreme expense. It has all become a bit too ‘extra’ for most of us. Fortunately, though, 2019 looks set to be the year that ‘excessmas’ takes a back seat. Research reveals a backlash against the Insta-perfect orgy of prepping, cooking, gorging and one-upmanship shopping. We’re done with spending £596 on gifts and £159 on food (and no, that’s not for a family of 12; it’s for an average household).

We want fewer, more thoughtful gifts; less time fluffing the spuds and more time chatting with family; and a modern, mindful, meaningful Christmas. So we’ve gathered the latest sanity-saving tips, gifting hacks and trendy tech to help simplify your festivities. Crimbo has never looked so chill.

Make gifting more joyful

Ditch the tit-for-tat mindset to save pennies, precious time and waste, say the gift-fluencers and founders of the mindful shopping sourcebook, More This. Less That. Here’s how:

Step 1: Speak to friends and family and agree to buy just one present you know they’ll love.
Step 2: For acquaintances or colleagues, why not suggest foregoing gifts and, instead, donating to a charity close to your heart?
Step 3: Try your hand at making gifts, from getting photos printed to assembling a Boots photo book, to propagating your plants and gifting the cuttings (there are plenty of tutorials online to get you started).
Step 4: Try gifting a workshop, spa day or experience to enjoy with a loved one (check out Boots experience days gifts).

Gift like you get them
71% of us have unused gifts at home. In fact, many of us have clocked up £708 of unwanted pressies over the years! A simple rule to show you really ‘get’ the person you’re gifting? Don’t focus on what you’d like to give (for example, a designer lippie that looks fab but they mightn’t use). Instead, focus on what they’d like to receive, which may be something more practical, such as a less expensive hand cream.

Wrap responsibly

On average, we throw away 227,000 miles of gift wrapping (that’s almost enough to reach the moon!). To make eco-wrapping a doddle, Anita Vandyke (author of A Zero Waste Life: In Thirty Days), suggests…

• Cover gifts in scarves or fabric. It looks retro and adds a nice hand-made touch.
• Use newspapers, magazines or leaflets. Add a luxe touch by tying with a ribbon or, for rustic chic, use string or twine.
• Make wrapping special with compostable extras such as leaves, ferns or garden flowers.
• Save paper and gift bags to reuse.

Stress-free shopping apps

Santa’s Bag: Plan, shop and budget with this fab festive shopping app.
Giftster: Juggling wishlists for family, friends and colleagues? Get everyone to join Giftster, so all lists are in one place. Then you can buy with a single click.
Browzzin: Get fashion gift-spo from Insta – screenshot from your feed and let the clever AI find you a match.
Deliveries: Shopping online? This package tracker means you won’t miss a delivery.
Boots: All the gifts you could possibly need! Plus, you can use your Advantage Card to rack up points – and Order & Collect*, too!

Say no to calendar-cramming

On average, we travel 5.6 billion miles to visit almost 257 million people at this time of year, so it’s not surprising that 60% of people with anxiety have experienced panic attacks at Christmas. Remember this acronym – from psychologist and Counselling Directory member Melanie Phelps – to stay in the HERE…

Hang out with you: book a weekly self-care evening, take yourself on a dinner date or stick a film on. Burn-out is not conducive to festive cheer.
End ‘must-urbation’: overwhelming feelings of ‘must-do’, like booking endless exhausting catch-ups. Ask yourself: ‘Why am I seeing this person?’ If it’s out of duty, reconsider, or set boundaries so it’s a quick coffee, rather than a whole-evening meal.
Remember: everyone is similarly stressed at this time of year. Your mate may welcome meeting up in the new year instead.
Engage with VIPs only: ring-fence time for loved ones. It’s about quality, rather than where you go or how long you spend together.

5 cool ways to give back

  1. Foodbanks see 49% more referrals in December than in any other month. Visit trusseltrust.org to find your nearest and donate.
  2. Knit to keep unwanted pets warm. Battersea Cats & Dogs Home holds a Knitting Kittens Club, where you can pay £2 to make blankets and toys.
  3. Join GoodGym whose members stop off on their jogs to do good deeds, from visiting isolated older people to physical tasks for community organisations.
  4. Support the elderly: 87% of older people want a traditional Christmas spent in company. Go to communitychristmas.org.uk for ideas, from popping in for a cup of tea to organising a festive filmathon.
  5. Offer up a spare chair and invite a friend of a friend, neighbour or social media mate over if they’ll otherwise be alone. Over 5 million people in the UK have cut contact with at least one family member. To help adults estranged from family or children, check out Stand Alone.

Food waste fix-its

If the past is any indication of the future, this year we’ll chuck out two million turkeys, 74 million mince pies and five million Christmas puds. But, with these handy tips from Erin Rhoads, author of Waste Not: Make A Big Difference By Throwing Away Less, we can all do our bit to reduce that food-waste mountain.

• In the weeks leading up to the Big Day, defrost and use the contents of your freezer so you’ll have plenty of room to store all those leftovers.
• Write a meal plan to avoid panic- and impulse-buying food you won’t use. And, to reduce food miles, shop locally by using the map from the Farm Retail Association to find farmers’ markets and farm retail shops near you.
• Ask guests to bring an empty container so they can take any extra food home (this will also free up room in your fridge).
• On the day, don’t throw away scraps during food prep. Instead, freeze them for soups, relishes and broths. For inspo, go to Love Food Hate Waste.
• If you don’t compost, check out ShareWaste, which connects people wanting to recycle food with locals who are already composting, worm-farming or keeping hens and chickens.

Conscious gifts for kids

When you’re shopping for children, keep in mind this mantra: ‘Want, Need, Wear, Read’ says Ashlee Piper, a sustainability expert (and author of Give a Sh*t: Do Good. Live Better. Save the Planet). ln a nutshell, it’s meaningful gifts they’ll treasure and actually use. Our suggestions:

1 x cool toy Lego Creator Modular Family Villa









1 x necessity Oral-B Stages Power Electric Toothbrush: Disney Princess

1 x wearable Mini Club Unicorn Pyjamas**(2-pack; sizes 9 months-6 years)

1 x read Bloom And Blossom Book And Bedtime Matilda Bath Gift Set**

*Free delivery (or £1.50 for online purchases below £10) to more than 2,200 stores, Monday to Saturday (excludes Bank Holiday deliveries). Geographical exclusions apply. Order & Collect delivery times may vary at peak times. For terms and conditions, go to boots.com/order-and-collect. **Available in selected stores.
Words: Ali Pantony