Below is a guest post by Jared Hill, a Chicago based writer that specializes in technology, environment, energy, health and sports. Follow him on Twitter @JaredHill341
The Holidays might be the “most wonderful time of the year” as the song claims, but it can also be taxing on your wallet and the environment. The exorbitant costs and waste that are associated with this time of year can begin a crazy, wasteful cycle that can ruin the holidays and leave your bank account worse than empty.
The good news is that the crazy holiday cycle can be broken. There are things that you can do in advance to prepare yourself, taking the pressure off of you, your wallet and the environment. There may not be much you can do about your odd relative coming to visit, but alleviate some of the tension from your wallet while being more environmentally friendly.
Read on for some things to trim costs this holiday season.
Make your own wrapping paper
This is a great project for children stuck in the house in the often gloomy days between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Have them color the comics from the newspaper, or make their own designs on a large sheet of white paper. Family members will love the outside of their gifts as much as they will the inside.
Take it a set further and prepare for next Christmas by making gift tags out of this years Christmas cards. Here’s 11 Creative Recycled Gift Wrap Ideas.
Make a homemade gift
Indulge in your creative side and make your gifts. Many times, the cost per person drops dramatically this way. Bake cookies, make soap or ornaments, crochet or knit, mix your own body scrub using the recipient’s favorite scents or make a picture book. This is a great way to give a very personalized gift to your loved ones. Take a look at the Project Ideas tab above or 8 Recycled Gifts To Make for more ideas.
Recycle or Compost your Christmas Tree
A live Christmas tree is a wonderful, beautiful thing, until it turns into a needle-shedding fire hazard. After Christmas, it may be tempting to push the shedding mess out the door for the garbage man to deal with, but there is a greener option: recycle. If you have a garden, cut off the limbs and needles to use as ground cover, protecting perennials from winter frost and providing nutrients come spring.
Prop up the main body and use it as a trellis for flowers or vegetables in the spring. If you live in a more urban area, consider composting your Christmas tree. Many cities offer free mulch or wood chips in the spring in exchange for letting them compost your tree. Read more about recycling your Christmas tree.
Buy in Bulk to Reduce Waste
Family gatherings often mean having to cater to the tastes of a variety of people. In advance, think about what you are going to buy for your family celebration and buy in bulk. Examples include larger party-sized portions instead individually wrapped small sizes. Find more tips in RecycleScene’s Guide to Holiday Recycling.
It is also helpful to use real plates and cups as well as to turn the thermostat down a few degrees to reduce your energy bill. Another advantage to this tip is that by the time the family arrives, you are ready for them. Find more energy-saving tips on Energy.gov and Albertaenergyproviders.
Be smart about your Christmas lights
Invest in LED or fiber optic lights which will reduce your energy consumption, keeping your electric bill down. Every year, Home Depot offers savings coupons if you trade in your old holiday string lights and upgrade to LED lights instead. There are programs around the country that offer ways for you to recycle old string lights, so search around. Also, put your lights on a timer, setting them to go off once you have gone to bed. This will keep costs and waste down as well as lower your fire risk.
The holidays can be hectic, but there are things you can do in advance to eliminate some of the cost and waste. Before you know it, you will be mistletoeing and your heart will be glowing.
Photo credit: burbankca.gov