The holidays are full of traditions and festivities, which can add to waste and consumption if you’re not careful. But is there a way to be eco-friendly during the holidays and save money simultaneously?

Buying less is a great way to save money and be more eco-friendly. You can pick fewer meaningful gifts, make something by hand, or get gift certificates for the experience. Decorating can be more sustainable, too, with a real tree and LED lights that save energy and won’t lead to a scary electricity bill.

Let’s discover some creative ways to have an eco-friendly holiday and save money from how and what you buy for presents, how you can decorate more mindfully, and how to entertain in a way that won’t leave you with clutter and an empty bank account.

Eco-Friendly Shopping

One of the best ways to make your holiday eco-friendlier is to change how you shop for gifts. It’s tempting to shop online for the latest trends but being more mindful of where you shop and what you buy can be an excellent first step to going green.

Shop Local

Shopping locally is always a great way to be more eco-friendly, especially near the holidays when plenty of sales and special deals are waiting. Moreover, your local shops and crafters will have plenty of unique gifts made with local materials, so you can get something special while cutting back on the shopping miles for your gifts.

Shopping locally also reduces packaging waste since you can bring your reusable bags. In addition, local shops use less packaging with their goods by not using bubble wrap and individually wrapped goods to ship products.

Sustainable Gifts

Before you decide what you buy, it’s essential to know what is eco-friendly and what flew halfway across the earth to get to your local shop. Of course, buying local doesn’t always mean you’re being sustainable, so here are some green gift ideas to consider:

  • Reusable storage/bags (this includes gift bags for the presents).
  • Compostable toothbrushes and toothpaste bits.
  • Blooming lollipops (candy with seeds in the sticks).

Green That Life has more great sustainable gift ideas on their blog.

Shop Less

You don’t have to go bigger than last year to impress your loved ones for the holidays. However, spending more time picking fewer but more meaningful gifts is a great way to show you care while reducing waste.

A great way to shop less is to give new experiences instead of physical gifts. There are probably more events in your city than you know about around the holidays, so take some time to look into the options.

Some experiences you can look into in your area are:

  • Spa services.
  • Restaurants.
  • Auto repairs.
  • Craft nights.
  • Festivals and music shows.
  • Memberships.

You can also buy local instead of online to incentivize yourself to buy less. No one wants to carry heavy bags for hours, so you’ll be more intentional about what you buy and how much.

Skip Shopping Altogether

Committing to not shopping for the holiday season doesn’t mean you have to become a Scrooge. On the contrary, handmade gifts can be incredibly meaningful and challenge you to learn new skills or think outside the box.

Moreover, these gifts are more likely to be cherished than something that took you two seconds to add to your cart.

Some handmade gifts you can try are:

  • Ornaments.
  • Picture frames.
  • Soap.
  • Digital or physical photobook.
  • Video compilation.

You can gift your time instead if you’re not the crafting type. Offering to look after someone’s children, cook a meal, shovel snow, or clean the garage can be excellent ways to help out those you love, save some money, and produce less waste all at the same time.

If you’re running short on time, consider donating to a meaningful charity for those you love. There are plenty of charitable initiatives during the holidays and helping out a cause your loved ones care about can show you care too.

Decorating Green

Decorating is a fun tradition that can put you in the holiday spirit, but it also has the potential to cause more waste than you realize. Choosing eco-friendly decorations can push your creativity and make a big difference in how the holidays affect the environment for years to come.

Get a Pesticide-Free Tree

The tree is the centerpiece of most holiday decorating, and few families are willing to completely give it up, even if it’s not very sustainable. However, getting a real, pesticide-free tree is far better than the plastic one.

You can search local programs that turn trees into mulch or wood chips after the holidays or find a tree that can go in the ground once you’re done with it.

Use LED Lights

While the planet and your electricity bill shouldn’t try and outshine your neighbors, having some twinkling lights is still possible while also being more environmentally aware. You should pick LED lights since they use fewer watts per strand, almost ten times less than regular lights.

Switch to Reusable Materials in the Kitchen

Nobody wants to wash every dish they own after family dinner, but it’s far better for the planet than using disposable dishes and cutlery. Think about how you’re going to pack up the leftovers too. Try reusable containers and recyclable foil instead of plastic wrap.

Sustainable Entertainment

Someone has to host the parties and family dinners. So, here are some ways to save money and produce less waste if it’s your turn.

Switch to Digital Cards

It might seem less personal to send digital holiday cards, but only if you download something random and send it off without much thought. Instead, take some time to design something specifically for your loved one by including pictures from the past year or adding their favorite holiday song.

There are plenty of predesigned options out there, too, that are either free to download or are a lot cheaper than buying new physical cards each year. So find something you like, and you’ll never have to flip through aisles of cards again.

Compostable, Recyclable, and Reusable Party Supplies

Find some beautiful or delightfully campy reusable dishes you only take out when it’s time to party. Investing in quality decorations that you can use for years is also great. It will cost you now, but you’ll save a lot more in the end, and you won’t have to throw them out after the holidays.

If you only want to use your party supplies once, consider buying compostable or recyclable supplies. You can eliminate the clutter after the party without it ending up in a landfill.


Going eco-friendly for the holidays helps the planet, and your wallet will thank you too. There are more options out there than you might think, so take some time to brainstorm and research your area for programs and local shops that can help you be more sustainable this holiday season.

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