Somehow 2018 has whizzed by and we are jetting towards Christmas at lightning speed.

Given the state of our environment, the effects of the boom in social media and the increasing busy-ness of our lifestyle, it is more important than ever to be conscious of what we are buying and what message we are sending to our children about the magic of Christmas. Not to mention the part we all need to play in reducing waste…

So, do you want to approach Christmas a little bit more mindfully this year?

Here are my top tips:

1. Choose time and experiences over gifts

Everybody knows that experiences are normally much better gifts than things yet we still finish Christmas Day with a new onslaught of things. How many Christmas presents have you received in your life that you actually remember…? But do you remember the time your parents took you away for the weekend? Or when you went to watch a play? Or the pottery classes? Or the footy games you could go to with your season membership? Or the concert? Singing lessons? There are so many great experiences that we can gift our loved ones.

2. Consider the four gift rule

I am a big fan of the Four Gift Rule. The idea is that rather than buying your loved ones a pile of gifts, put more thought into your gifts and buy just four. The first is “something they want”, the second is “something they need”, the third is “something to wear” and the fourth is “something to read”. Such a great way to get children accustomed to not needing 30 gifts at Christmas.

3. Buy fair trade / eco-friendly / local where possible

If you do need to buy things, ask yourself: Where did this come from? Who made it? How many times will the person use it? How long will it last?

Avoid gifts that are going to be used a handful of times, then gathering dust in the cupboard before going to landfill.

Oxfam have a great online store with fair trade items that support communities in poverty stricken areas and ensure fair wages are being paid to the people producing your gift. Or visit your local markets and buy handmade gifts from local people made with love.

4. Wrap your gifts in brown recycled paper and use eco-friendly tape

I have been using brown paper to wrap my gifts for years and I also skip the card and write directly onto the paper. No complaints yet, only compliments. Many types of wrapping paper can’t be recycled so skip the fancy paper and go brown. I promise you that in two months time no one will remember how your gift was wrapped. Let’s be honest, they probably won’t even remember what was inside.

Don’t forget to actually pop it into the recycling rather than sending the paper to landfill.

5. Be an eco-warrior at your work Christmas Party

Having a work Christmas Party or a big family get together? Skip the plastic plates, cups, straws and cutlery. Finger food reduces the need for cutlery (or get compostable cutlery), use recyclable plates and cups and if you really need straws, buy metal ones (but do you really need straws?). make sure it all gets recycled in the appropriate bin.

Try to also be conscious of food waste and don’t buy more food than you need.

6. Reuse old Christmas decorations or make your own

Why is it that each year we head to the shops to buy more Christmas decorations? Store your old decorations and reuse them each year. Even better, get the kids and spend an afternoon crafting handmade decorations, you will feel much more satisfied when you look at them, knowing you made them. Plus it is a great way to have some creative family time.

7. Buy a live tree and keep it for future years

Real Christmas trees are great but often they are not sustainable and end up in landfill. There are many places where you can buy a ‘live’ tree in a pot which you can keep for future years. Good for the environment and your wallet! If you are in Sydney, check out Merlino’s Christmas Trees in Five Dock.