8 Easy Ways to Make Your Holidays More Eco-Friendly

Embrace a greener gathering this holiday season with these sustainable party hacks.

'Tis the season to be more conscious of your holiday habits. Yes, winter evokes feelings of nostalgia for Christmases past but, all too often, November and December is characterized by waste and excess. To make this year's holiday more eco-friendly, we tapped the founders of Nine10 Creative—event designer Emily Clarke and photographer Brian Leahy—for their decorating tips for sustainable celebrations that wow.

According to Clarke and Leahy, the secret to a well-designed gathering lies in upcycling items you already own. "Sustainable décor doesn’t have to look crafty or DIY—anything goes. The goal is to give everyday items a second life. Consider what's in the recycling bin, and what boxes you have lying around that remind you of something else." Adopt these sustainable tips to instantly elevate your next holiday dinner or gift exchange.

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Rethink gift wrap.

The best gifts come in small packages, especially if the presents are presented in a sustainable fashion. Rather than spend hard-earned cash on rolls of wrapping paper, conceal gifts in repurposed packaging. Unused maps and paper bags work wonders as paper alternatives, and recycled comics are the perfect wrapping solution for kid-friendly gifts. For oversized parcels, reach for recycled fabric or printed pillowcases, since both can be used year after year.

02 of 08

Create your own centerpieces.

Flex those dormant craft muscles by creating festive centerpieces using items you already own. The trick, according to the Nine10 Creative Team, is to consider everyday items—like wrapping paper scraps and string lights—that can easily be color-blocked. For table centerpieces, our pros filled long, low plexiglass-and-mirrored vessels with twigs and colorful felt pom poms.

03 of 08

Repurpose used ribbons and bows.

In the months leading up to the holiday season, save every ribbon, bow, and gift bag that comes your way. When it's time to wrap gifts of your own, you'll save a trip to the store and breathe new life into those accessories you stowed away.

Want to go the bow-free route this Christmas? Tie up gifts using leftover yarn or sprigs of fresh rosemary instead.

04 of 08

DIY your gifts.

It's no secret that inexpensive, homemade gifts are extra special. If baking is your thing, give the gift of a DIY dessert by mixing up a homemade holiday treat in the form of cookies, brownies, or caramels. Store the resulting sweets in recycled candy tins or mason jars, and you're bound to be everyone's favorite elf this season.

05 of 08

Send paperless holiday cards.

Going paperless applies to so much more than your monthly bills. It's now acceptable to give (and receive) digital holiday cards, since recipients are more likely to keep and appreciate a sentimental surprise in their inbox rather than affix it to their fridge. Think of the money and resources you'll save on stamps and shipping!

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Avoid single-use dinnerware.

Single-use plastic at your holiday table is a move that'll likely put you on the naughty list. Before the start of your next soirée, shop for compostable utensils and plates made from sustainable materials like bamboo or sugarcane.

Rented dinnerware is very much a thing, thanks to services like Table + Teaspoon, which rents all-in-one table setting kits to consumers. An on-demand tabletop rental service makes entertaining easy for everyone, no matter who's coming over for dinner.

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Reduce overall food waste.

Make the most of holiday leftovers by immediately freezing food once your holiday guests have headed home. To ensure not a morsel of food goes to waste, provide guests with glass take-home containers. While you're at it, familiarize yourself with your local compost center—some communities provide compost drop-off locations where you can ditch food waste post-party.

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Decorate with LED lights.

Energy-efficient bulbs are the eco-friendly alternative to even the most festive string of vintage lights. LED lights last considerably longer than halogen or incandescent bulbs, and they use significantly less energy, meaning they'll last almost as long as your most beloved tree ornament.

RELATED: How Many Feet of Christmas Lights You Need for Every Tree Height

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