15 things you can do to have a Christmas that is better for the planet

I’m not going to do Blogmas this year, but I do have some Christmas content planned, and this is the first in my series of festive posts.

I’m not going to suggest things that are a good idea, but that I have no intention of doing myself. That seems a bit hypocritical, and I want to be real!

I think hand-made gifts are fab, but my craft skills are rubbish! I enjoy shopping, and we will have meat on our table this Christmas. But here are some things I do, or that I’ll be doing this year to make Christmas less of a strain on the planet.

1. Think how much food you really need

It’s easy to get carried away buying food, and nobody wants guests to go hungry. But if you end up throwing half of it in the bin, you’re wasting money and you’re also wasting the food. Buy a bit extra if you want to, but especially when you’ve got things with a short use-by date, think about what you and your guests are really likely to eat.

Following on from this idea, if there are things that nobody likes, don’t buy them just because of tradition. We don’t like Brussel sprouts or Christmas pudding, so I won’t be buying either of them!

2. Defrost your freezer before Christmas

If your freezer is full of ice, it will take more energy heat and you will have less room for food. Defrosting it before you buy your Christmas food means that you’ll fit more in there!

3. Be creative with left-overs

Don’t just throw food away because you have some left over. Think of other things you can make such as turkey curry, or home-made soups with left-over vegetables. If you didn’t eat all the fruit you bought, make some smoothies. If nobody finished the cheese board, cheese and crackers makes a good snack on its own.

4. Don’t leave lights on all the time

If there’s nobody there to enjoy them, you’re wasting electricity. Lights left on overnight when you’ve gone to bed are a fire hazard and outside lights can be confusing for wildlife.

5. Consider giving someone an experience or doing an activity with them

If you think your gift might end up at the back of a drawer, never to be seen again, maybe you can give someone an experience. This could be connected to their hobby, something new to learn, a new experience that you think they would enjoy, or something that they can do together with you. In our busy lives, sometimes gifts that involve spending time together are the most meaningful because you make memories together as well.

6. Use recycled or recyclable wrapping paper

Shiny paper with glitter can’t be recycled and it has to go straight in the bin after it’s been ripped off. Nothing with cellotape on it can go in the recycling. If you don’t use half a roll of cellotape, it’s easy enough to pull it off and then, as long as the paper is recyclable, it can go in the recycling. Just make sure you’ve removed any ribbons or other things that can’t be recycled.

Some people are now avoiding using cellotape altogether.

7. Consider using things other than wrapping paper

There are lots of options. Last year I bought a material sack for some of my gifts. This can be used for storing things or reused the following year. The same applies to gift boxes – I have a stack of them from 2 years ago that are now used for other things.

I’ll be honest and say that I’ll still be wrapping presents, but I am going to make better choices with wrapping paper this year.

8. Try to buy locally from small businesses

I love Christmas markets, and they are ideal for this. Not only do you have the benefit of finding some unique gifts that you won’t see in stores, but you can also support smaller local businesses at the same time.

Again, I have bought and shipped presents, especially when buying specific things like books, but I get some gifts from the Christmas market too.

9. Rent a Christmas tree

I didn’t even know this was a thing, but apparently there are garden centres that let you rent a Christmas tree and return it in January. The tree comes with a root and is growing in a pot, so after Christmas it can be returned outside.

There is an ongoing debate about plastic or real trees – plastic is bad for the environment, but killing loads of trees and not replanting them isn’t great either. We have had the same plastic one for the last five years and it will be good for many more, but if you want a real tree, renting one that can go outside again in January seems like a good idea to me – and I love that smell of real trees!

10. Grow your own Christmas tree

My Granddad used to do this. We brought the tree inside in its big ceramic pot, and after Christmas it was replanted in the garden. All was good – until the day the dog got tangled in the wire for the lights and pulled the whole thing over, covering the carpet with soil. The dog and the tree were unharmed, but my Nan was clearing it up for ages! But anyway, the idea of a tree that isn’t just chopped down for Christmas has always appealed to me more, providing you have space for it in the garden.

11. Recycle your tree

IF you are going to get a real tree that has been cut down, many councils offer recycling schemes so for unwanted trees. Just make sure you take off any tinsel or sparkly things before putting it out for recycling.

12. As well as the reindeer, think of feeding the birds

I was always convinced that we should put dog biscuits out for the reindeer. Maybe that was my not so subtle way of saying I knew what really happened to the food for Father Christmas and Rudolph!

The reindeer might not enjoy your tasty treats, but the birds will, so at this time of year when it’s harder for them to find food, why not put something out for the birds as well?

13. Take re-usable bags when you go Christmas shopping

For reasons mainly to do with accessibility, I do most of my shopping online. Yes, there is more packaging this way, though all the cardboard goes in the recycling or is used for disguising the shapes of awkward gifts. If I’m doing an order from a particular shop, I try to get everything that I want from that shop in one go. It cuts down the postage costs, but it also usually generates less packaging.

But, if you are going to the high street or Christmas market for your shopping, remember to take a bag for life with you. It’s not just that those 5p charges mount up, but one shopping trip can generate a lot of unwanted carrier bags.

14. Think about whether you want to send Christmas cards

I haven’t sent Christmas cards for years now. It’s nice to receive them, especially from people far away who you don’t see all the time, but it can get a bit much if you send them to all of your colleagues/customers/local friends.

If you are going to buy cards, can you find some out of recycled paper? Can you do some good at the same time by supporting a charity? Can you get them with no glitter or sparkly things so that they can be recycled if the recipient doesn’t want to keep them?

I have cards from when I was about 5 years old, and generally keep them if someone has gone to the trouble of making one or getting one Brailled. But you can’t keep them all.

Some people suggest e-cards, but if I’m not familiar with the site, I am dubious about clicking the links – there have been cases of emails posing to be e-cards that really unleash a virus or download spyware as soon as you click the link. So I don’t recommend sending e-cards – but how about just sending a personal message to people on one of the hundreds of channels we now have available, or making time to meet around Christmas time?

After all, good things come out of spontaneous Christmas meet-ups! I should know – the fact that a group of our friends couldn’t find a suitable date was how I ended up suggesting S and I meet up on our own nearly five years ago! He invited me to dinner and things went from there!

15. Recycle Christmas cards

If you have cards that you aren’t going to keep, look at which ones are recyclable and pop them in the recycling.

Another way of doing this is something my Nan used to do – if you find some with nice pictures, cut the picture out, use it as a gift tag next year, and recycle the rest.

There are plenty of other things that you can do. I specifically haven’t mentioned some of them because I don’t plan to do them, but I think every little helps, and if we all do even a few of these things, it can make a big difference.

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Blogmas 2018 – Salisbury Christmas market

Christmas markets have been becoming increasingly popular over the last few years. I originally know them from Germany, but a lot of towns in the UK have them too.
Today is our anniversary, and S and I have a tradition now which means we both take the day off and spend it together.
We went for lunch in Salisbury, where we also visited the Christmas market. Unlike many of the markets around, the one in Salisbury is open until January – so if you get to the point where everything else has all packed up and you still want to go to a Christmas market, Salisbury is a good choice.
We didn’t actually eat at the Christmas market, which is held in the town square, but there are food options available if you want to.
I tasted my way through another cheese stand, and picked up delicious things such as rioja cheese, cheese with chives, and Christmas cheese (with cinnamon and fruit).
There was a stall with cool candles made to look like desserts, and a bunch of bath stuff. I managed to restrain myself there, but did pick up a bottle of the orange body lotion from Hive Originals, whom we first met at a chilli festival.
We also stopped at the chocolate shop, where you can find all kinds of tools and objects made out of chocolate. On another stall we picked up a couple of snowman lollies made out of chocolate too.
On the way back to the car, there was a stall selling flowers and Christmas greenery, so we picked up some pine sprigs as a table decoration.
Have you been to any Christmas markets this year? If so, where did you go and what did you do or buy there?

Advent calendar unboxing

Throughout Blogmas I’ll be unboxing my two advent calendars from Glossybox and the Body Shop and giving a brief product review.
Body Shop – I don’t usually use face mists, but today we got a rose face mist which is supposed to leave your body feeling refreshed with a dewy glow. Maybe more something for the Summer than December? Don’t know, but I’m happy to give it a go!
Glossybox – I can’t review this product because I’m giving it to someone as a gift, but it’s a full-size Pixie blusher, which is something we haven’t seen in the calendar so far and I think it’s a good thing to put in there.

Unseen Beauty Blogmas Giveaway

Today you have another chance to enter my Unseen Beauty Blogmas giveaway. There will be a box with 10 prizes from the Glossybox and Body Shop advent calendars, and the prizes will be revealed throughout December. You can enter once on each Blogmas 2018 page, which means you have up to 24 chances of winning. You can enter at any time from when the page goes live to the end of December 2018.
Multiple entries on the same page will not be counted – I have a spreadsheet to log them!
Your answers to the questions will help me to get to know my readers and where they are based. Also, they prove that you’re a real person as I don’t use inaccessible widgets on my site.
The giveaway is international, but if postal restrictions prevent me from sending a product to your country, I will replace it with an alternative.
The form only goes to me.

What’s in the box?

1. Huda Beauty Winter solstice palate Featuring one pearlescent creamy formula and three icy pressed pearl powders.
2. Spa of the World® French grapeseed body scrub from the Body Shop.
3. Black eye liner pencil from the Body Shop
4. An eye make-up brush from the Body Shop something will be coming later to go with that!
5. Real Techniques expert face brush
6. MUA Cosmic Vixen palette with 15 eye shadows.
7. Karmameju konjac sponge
8. Luxie Beauty highlighter brush
Products 9 and 10 coming soon!

Giveaway entry form

Terms and conditions

1. The give-away is open until 23:59 on 31st December 2018, and I’ll draw the winner on 2nd January 2019.
2. I will give each entry a number and then draw the winner by asking Siri to generate a random number. I want to make it as easy and accessible as possible for people to enter.
3. Your email address is being collected solely for the purpose of contacting you if you win the prize. You are welcome to sign up to my newsletter at the same time, but this isn’t necessary to take part in the give-away. If you do not win the prize, your email address will only be stored if you have signed up to the newsletter or asked for your entry to be carried over to the next give-away.
4. I will email the winner on 2nd January to ask for their address so that I can send the prize. The winner will have 7 days in which to respond. If they haven’t responded after 7 days, I will draw a new winner.
5. No cash alternatives are available and the winner is responsible for checking product ingredients for any known allergens)

This post may contain affiliate links.

Blogmas day 19 – Christmas markets

So, do you know what the number one thing that you should do is when you’re planning a trip to a Christmas market? Make sure the Christmas market that you want to go to hasn’t been cancelled!

We didn’t do this, so we turned up in Reading at the place where the market should be, only to find no market! Not good! We did manage to find out online that it had been cancelled, but the information wasn’t easily available.

Anyway, I did find a stall with a lady selling some very cute owl rings, so not all was lost, and we kept with our original lunch plan of going to Comptoir Libanais (Lebanese canteen.

We ordered two starters and two mains, which we shared. We had grilled haloumi, pastry parcels with fetta, spinach and pine nuts, followed by a mixed grill and a chicken tagine (I actually wanted the lamb one, but they couldn’t take out the peppers). The restaurant was quite busy, always a good sign, and I would definitely recommend it and go back again.

After that we went to a Christmas market that had not been cancelled – the one in Winchester. It takes place in the grounds of the cathedral and there are plenty of stalls selling home-made gifts, food, mulled wine, Christmas decorations, and other hand-made goods. I was sorry I was so full from lunch because the food smelled great, but I couldn’t eat any more!

I did however find a cute little wolf pendant, a doggy cheese board (so a wooden board in the shape of a terrier for serving cheese), a cheese wheel for Christmas, a chocolate snowman from Holland, and I got a cup of mulled wine too – because that’s a fun thing to do at Christmas markets!

There was also the chance to go ice-skating, although we didn’t do it!

Have you been to any Christmas markets this year? If so, which are your favourites?

The calendars

IN L’Occitane there was another soap – not my favourite find, but they definitely last longer than the lotions and shower gels!

In M&S I got my first Leighton Denny nail varnish, and a 12ml one at that! This will get me in the festive mood later!

How about you?

Christmas tree in Stockholm

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Blogmas day 11 – things I love about winter

Let it snow! It did actually snow in our part of the world last night. It has now mixed with rain, and there’s not enough to make a good snow dog, but at least it snowed! Some people got up to 32 cm of the stuff, and I do feel sorry for all the people who lost power to their homes over the weekend. Still, even as an adult, I do think there’s something magical about the fluffy white stuff – as long as I don’t have to go anywhere in it!

11 things that I love about winter

People sometimes see winter as a dull and dreary time of the year. It’s true that in England it can be cold and damp, but actually I think there’s a lot to love about winter. Here are 11 of my favourite things!

1. Winter walks
Now that I work from home, I certainly don’t miss running to the train station in the rain and spending the rest of the day trying to dry out! But when it’s dry, I love wrapping up in my big thick coat, hat, scarf, and gloves, and going for a walk. We don’t get a lot of snow around here, but the air is so fresh and crisp – it really feels as though you’re doing something good for yourself, especially as we tend to spend a lot more time inside during the winter.

2. Winter food
I’m not just talking about Christmas dinner here, although I do enjoy roast turkey with all the trimmings! I also mean the home-made pumpkin soups and the hearty stews and casseroles that I make when it’s cold outside. These are really healthy too because they’re basically just meat and vegetables with a few additional herbs and spices for flavour.
I’m not a fan of the traditional desserts like Christmas cake or Christmas pudding, but I do enjoy a slice of chocolate log (a kind of cake) or a mince pie (a sweet pastry case filled with dried fruit and spices).

3. Christmas
Not just Christmas Day though – I mean the whole time leading up to Christmas with all the preparations, getting the tree, decorating it, buying presents, wrapping them, making Christmas food, listening to the music…

4. Winter clothes
AT the moment I’m wearing a soft, thick fleece with a wolf on it. Winter gives me the chance to get out all my warm snuggly clothes that would be too hot at any other time of the year. I think there’s something really comforting about being wrapped up warm!

5. Snuggling up on a cold evening
The wind is howling outside, the rain is lashing down – but it’s ok, because you’re in the warm, snuggled up with a blanket on the sofa, reading a good book, watching a film, or just enjoying a steaming mug of hot chocolate!

6. Christmas markets
They are actually a German tradition, but they are becoming quite popular in the UK now. It’s basically a collection of stalls with people selling gifts, hand-made products, and food. You can usually pick up a tasty treat and find some gifts for Christmas presents, or just for yourself, that are a bit different to what you can find in the shops.

7. Decorating the house
I mentioned this earlier in the part about Christmas. I don’t go for the crazy lights and garden decorations that you can see for miles, but I do like to have a tree, the singing snowman and some greenery around the house.

8. Advent calendars
They really started to be a thing here last year, and now so many shops and brands are doing them. They used to be just for chocolate – you got a little chocolate treat every day, but now there are make-up ones, skincare ones, perfume ones, ones with candles, ones for pets, and ones with food or drinks inside. I love to see the variety, and getting a little treat each day from 1st till 25th December is of course fun too!

9. Snow
We don’t get a lot of it where I live in the south of England, but when we did get some, my dog used to love it. She would roll around on her back in it, burrow down into it with her paws, and do her best to catch the snowballs that I threw for her. Then she’d be really confused about where they disappeared to if they hit the ground.
When I was still at primary school, my family moved to the north of England, where there was more snow. The children used to get excited when it snowed because it often meant that the school would close and they could go sledging!

10. Time off work
I haven’t always taken holiday around Christmas time, but people don’t usually want training courses at this time of year, so now I usually take a couple of weeks off at the end of December. I don’t usually go away, so it’s holiday at home with my partner, and it gives me time to catch up with family and friends.

11. New Year
I’m not a fan of huge parties for New Year. Most years I stayed home with my dog, or celebrated locally with friends. When I used to live in London, I wasn’t interested in going to join the huge crowds. But I like New Year because it’s a new beginning – a fresh new year with so many possibilities. Like a blank page waiting to be filled, or a new chapter in a book.

Christmas tree in Stockholm

The calendars

So, what was behind your door no. 1?

L’Occitane – today I got another shower gel, this time the shea one. L’Occitane shower gels are lovely, and I prefer them to the oils. I haven’t had this one before, but I like the range.

M&S – after being so happy with yesterday’s mask (I tried it out yesterday), today’s offering was a make-up sponge. I can’t get excited about make-up sponges and do feel that this was a bit of a filler gift. It’s the first thing that I won’t use, so I suppose that’s not bad. I’ll find someone to give it to or put it in my give-away box – It’s not a bad product, I just can’t get very enthusiastic about it!

Question of the day

Today’s question – do you give or receive Christmas stockings? I don’t any more, but I always had one as a child, usually after Christmas dinner.

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