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Green Christmas and Hanukkah

Decorating tips and ideas to help you celebrate greener holidays.

Ornaments and decorations

The holidays don't have to be wasteful. There are many things you can do to reduce your carbon footprint during the holidays. These green decorations let you add a personal touch, and can often save you money.

Recycled ornaments

Festive ring ornaments

Festive ornament made from string, ribbon, and shower rings 
Girl holding an eco-tastic ornament 

Wrap repurposed red and green (or any color) strings and ribbons around shower rings. To hang, create a larger loop with string.

Ornaments made from sweaters

Heart shaped ornaments made from recycled sweaters
Mini wreath ornaments made from old sweaters

An old sweater can find new life as homemade ornaments! These are great do-it-yourself projects for you and the whole family. Kids will love to see their creations hanging on the tree!

All you need to get started is an old sweater and a string or ribbon for hanging. A Subtle Revelry inspired our heart-shaped design.

The Resweater blog's mini wreath ornaments are also a great way to repurpose those old sweaters.

CD disco ball ornament

Transform faded ornaments into disco ball ornaments with old CDs

Have some old CDs and plain ball ornaments? Don't throw them away, turn them into disco ball ornaments. For a step-by-step tutorial and video, visit Crème de la Craft.

Lightbulb penguin ornament

Eco-tastic lightbulb penguin ornaments
Materials for making penguin ornaments from lightbulbs and old gloves

Still have some incandescent lightbulbs? Don't throw them away, save them for the holidays. Transform the bulbs into cute penguin ornaments with some craft paints, old gloves, and ribbon.

Snowman paint swatch ornament

Snowman ornaments made from sample paint swatches

Repurpose paint swatches by turning them into snowman ornaments. They work great as gift tags, too.

Table decorations

Toilet paper roll reindeer

Eco-tastic table decoration - toilet paper roll and twig reindeer
Girl making reindeer table decoration out of twigs and toilet paper rolls.

Inspired by several crafting websites, kids of all ages can make festive reindeer. All you need are some twigs and toilet paper rolls. For more design ideas, search the web for "toilet paper roll reindeer".

Hanukkah decorations

Popsicle stick Star of David

Star of David Hanukkah decorations made from popsicle sticks
Girl holding two Star of David popsicle stick Hanukkah decorations

You can make Hanukkah decorations from recycled materials, too! We made these Star of David decorations from popsicle sticks, markers, glitter, and glue. These are at idea for a project kids can do on their own.


A menorah made from recycled materials
A menorah made from toilet paper rolls and construction paper

Hanukkah menorahs can be made from practically anything. Buy recycled menorahs online or make your own. The Sammamish-based Celebrate Green campaign talks about menorahs made out of old flower pots, used water bottles, or even potatoes!

Looking for a flameless option for Hanukkah this year? We bet you didn’t think of toilet paper rolls as the perfect resource to create a beautiful DIY menorah! Cut out candle shapes from construction paper scraps to add a pop of color. Follow the simple directions at Creative Jewish Mom for this fun holiday craft. 

Christmas trees

Your Christmas tree's sustainability depends on how you get it, use it, and its life-span.

Christmas tree options for a greener holiday

Cut trees

Sustainably grown trees are the "greenest" kind of Christmas tree. Many Christmas tree farms use minimal pesticides and follow other  green growing practices.

You can find pre-cut or "U-cut" Christmas trees at several local tree farms.

If you go to a tree lot, try to find one that sells trees grown in the Pacific Northwest.

Another option is to get a permit to cut your own tree on national forest lands. This can be a fun family adventure and save money. But remember, permits are for national forest lands only. It is illegal to cut down trees or boughs on state lands.

Make sure your cut tree gets composted and turned into mulch after the holidays. You may be able to put your tree out with your yard waste.

Living trees

Consider buying a potted living tree. Available at many nurseries, these trees are smaller than cut trees. You can use a potted tree for several years before planting it in your yard or donating it. To prevent new growth, only keep the tree inside for one week at a time.

Artificial trees

Artificial Christmas trees are a sustainable option because you can use them for many years. These trees are often made from plastic or metal. Some vintage trees were made out of polyvinyl chloride, a plastic linked to environmental problems. We recommend searching for vintage aluminum trees as an alternative.

Recycled t-shirt garland

Recylced t-shirt garland on Christmas tree

Do you have t-shirts that are too threadbare or damaged to donate? Transform them into colorful strands of garland for your Christmas tree.

Holiday wreaths

Autumn-themed wreath

Thanksgiving themed holiday wreath

For Thanksgiving, make a colorful autumn wreath, using natural materials that you gather. Ask your neighbors if you may trim a little of their holly, cedar, corkscrew willow, or plants with berries to use for holiday decorating.

Starburst twig wreath

Starburst Twig Wreath inspired by Painted Hive

Inspired by the Painted Hive, we made our Starburst Twig Wreath with twigs, cardboard, twine, and ribbon. Cut the cardboard into a small disk and wrap it in twine, then hot-glue twigs around the disk. Secure the ribbon around the disk to hang. If you’re feeling extra creative, add a few pine cones as a centerpiece!

Cinnamon stick wreath

Completed cinnamon stick holiday wreath
Making a cinnamon stick holiday wreath

Inspired by blog posts online, we created a holiday wreath from cinnamon sticks, cardboard, and ribbon. Cut a piece of cardboard into a circle, the desired size of your wreath, and cut out the center. Using a glue gun, glue cinnamon sticks to the wreath until you’ve covered the entire circle. Add some holiday ribbon to finish it off and hang it up to enjoy during the holiday season.

Wine cork wreath

Holiday wreath made from wine corks and jingle bells.
Making a holiday wreath from wine corks and jingle bells

For the holiday wine cork wreath you'll need about 22 wine corks, 22 red bells, and some floral wire. Drill a small hole 1/4 of an inch from the top and bottom of each cork.

Using long, green floral wire, push the wire though all the bottom holes of the corks. Leave enough wire at both ends when finished for tying closed later. Cut another long piece of floral wire to string the tops of the corks together with the bells.

Tie ends of wire at the top and bottom, twisting to close and make a wreath shape. Add a reusable bow or holly to finish it off. Inspired by Good Housekeeping magazine online. 

LED holiday lights

LED holiday lights are energy efficient and save money

Add a sleek look to your holiday lights with energy-efficient LEDs or solar-powered lights. Switching to LED holiday lights could save you money on your winter electric bills.

Most retailers carry LED holiday lights. Some may offer discounts on Energy Star-rated LEDs. When buying your new LED lights, ask the retailer if they have a holiday light recycling program.

Nearly all Christmas lights, including LEDs, contain PVC plastic and sometimes lead in the wiring. Keep these out of the reach of children and wash your hands after handling them.

Find holiday light recycling programs