Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Coundown to a greener Christmas - Decorations!

So, this week we're talking decorations, and what better excuse for a bit of crafting?! There is a huge amount of inspiration out there - on the internet and in books and magazines. Here are just a few ideas:-

Fabric wreath from Home Sweet Sewn by Alice Butcher & Ginny Farquhar

Felt and fabric decorations from A Greener Christmas by Shererazade Goldsmith

Simple, natural wreath idea from Country Living magazine

Festive garland from Green Parent magazine

Vanilla heart biscuits from Ideal Home Complete Guide to Christmas

Paper decorations (above and below) again, from Ideal Home Complete Guide to Christmas

I do love these paper decorations, but they would, of course, be much greener if you used recycled or repurposed papers - I'm thinking old magazines, maps, pages from thrifted books etc.

On the internet, here are just some of the links I've found for some fabulous tutorials:-

Edit: The link for this first one didn't seem to be working - it took me to a real estate site! - but there are some great ideas there so here's the actual address:

Domestic Diva

Sew Mama Sew

The Long Thread

For advent calender ideas:

30 Handmade Days


And for kids crafts:

The Crafty Crow

I haven't gotten round to making any decorations just yet, but I certainly plan to, and will come back and post pics once I do.

Finally, a word about lights. Everyone loves Christmas fairy lights, they make everything look so magical, but did you know that conventional fairy lights waste 90 per cent of the energy they use as heat? - only 10 percent is turned into light. According to A Greener Christmas, "if you leave a set of conventional Christmas tree lights on in your home for ten hours a day over the 12 days of Christmas, you'll produce enough carbon dioxide to inflate 64 party balloons." If you need to buy new lights, choose LED lights, as they use 80 percent less energy, last longer and stay cooler than traditional bulbs. I am certainly going to make sure that our fairy lights are not left on all the time this year.

So, I hope this has given you some inspiration and that you'll all have fun making lots of different decorations. Please do drop us a line and let us know if you post on your blogs.

'Til next time, take care!

Rachel x

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

In the Spotlight - The Story of Stuff

Just a quick post today, as I think this one can really speak for itself. If you haven't watched this 20 minute web-movie already, then please do - it's a real eye-opener. I first saw it probably some time last year, and I believe it has such an important message, especially at this time of the year when we're all gearing up for Christmas shopping. It'll make you look at all those cheap goods that you thought were such a bargain in a whole new light. And get your kids to watch it too - younger children probably wouldn't be interested but I would think a 10 year old could understand it all ok.

You can watch the movie here -

Next week we'll be continuing our Countdown to a Greener Christmas with the subject of decorations so if you have any handmade ornaments or tutorials to share please do let us know.

Take care
Rachel x

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Countdown to a greener Christmas - Gifts

Now that it is November I don't feel so bad about talking about Christmas!! As you know, we are starting our countdown to a greener Christmas with the topic of gifts. So how am I going to be greener with my gift giving? Well, I think that, as a family, we are fairly restrained about our gifts anyway. We don't have a lot of money so our Christmas budget is pretty modest. Several years ago we all agreed with friends and family to only buy presents for each others children and only on their birthdays, not at Christmas (with the exception of our parents). I think at one point I was buying gifts for about 14 children, it was just getting a bit silly, and my kids were getting tons of stuff that they really didn't need (and that we didn't have room for anyway!) Now though, with their birthdays spread out over the year I can take more care over their birthday gifts, and at Christmas I can devote all my attention to my own children. As much as I would like to be able to say that all my gifts will be handmade - I just can't. With 7 & 12 year old boys, it's probably going to be a mixture of computer games and lego! We still don't spend a huge amount on them and I try to make sure that everything I do buy is something that they really will appreciate and use - not the latest must-have toy that they will get bored of after 5minutes.

For our parents though, we do give "greener" gifts. For the last few years we have made our own hampers for them. I love this idea, as you can tailor it exactly to the person you are giving to, so we included things like, luxury hot chocolate, biscuits, speciality teas, pots of jam - things that we knew they would like and would use. I would either buy a basket to put the items in or decorate a box - either of which could be kept and reused. This year I am knitting - scarves for our mums and socks for our dads (if I can manage to knit fast enough, that is!) plus they will get the latest school photos of the boys.

I think that the most important thing is to just be more mindful of what you give. People really don't "need" so much stuff. Giving something that has had real thought put into it is so much nicer than just spending money. Making or buying handmade items is a wonderful idea and, as we all know, the internet is a fabulous resource for this - tutorials for making just about anything, and places like Etsy or Folksy if you want to buy something unique.

So, what sort of gifts will you be giving this year?

Rachel x