This year I am looking at Christmas a little differently. Some of that is due to being forced to stay home for an extended period and looking around and taking note. Another reason is the pandemic itself. I, like many others, am looking at my world differently. With COVID, we saw process plants shut down, food and supply shortages, and a drastic change in the labor force. This has made me a little more self-reliant and that has crossed over in the way I am decorating for Christmas. Here are some of the changes I am applying to decking the halls:
1. Plant a Christmas Tree
Believe it or not, Christmas trees are in short supply. Many tree farms have cut back, and others have simply run out. I planted a whole section near my chicken coop where the chickens will relieve some boredom by nibbling or playing with the pine needles and branches until they are old enough to be cut down and used as a Christmas tree. The best part? When the season comes to an end, I will take the tree out to the pasture for the goats to enjoy a nice snack. Pine trees are good for intestinal worm control and high vitamin C content that are beneficial for the goats.
2. Bake an Advent Calendar
I am skipping the paper calendar this year and opting for an edible advent calendar. It is not only a fun family baking day, but it will also give the whole family something to look forward as they enjoy a cookie one by one until Christmas Day arrives.
3. Deck the Halls with Real Evergreen
Remember those Christmas trees in number 1? The ideal time to trim pine trees is in the Spring. However, it is safe and acceptable to trim the trees any time they require correction for damaged limbs. Every December I take a walk around the property and trim off any broken branches and turn them into garland to hang on the fireplace mantle or as a center piece for the table? When the season is over I place the garland in the compost pile. According to “Gardening Know How” it is safe to add pine needles to compost without fear that the finished product will harm your plants or acidify the soil as long as you limit them to 10 percent of the total volume of the pile
4. Fresh Herb Wreath
I keep my herbs outside for as long as I can. By growing them in raised beds I am able to cover them with cold frames and they give me fresh herbs all the way through December. Therefore, I have plenty of sage and rosemary to use for my Christmas wreaths. Not only do they look beautiful, but they smell heavenly. Gather bunches of them and arrange them on a wire form securing them with wire. Here is a video from Real Simple that is easy to follow. Add a few red chilies and garlic for color.
5. Recycled Gift Bag Wall Art
Gift bags come in all sizes and are so artfully done. It would be a shame to just throw them out. Instead, reuse them next year. If it is a festive bag use your scissors to cut each side out and place them in existing wall frames during the holidays. This brightens your walls with holiday cheer and doesn’t require you to remove existing wall art.
6. Wrap Gifts with Recycled Paper
Since COVID many grocery stores have not allowed shopping totes. I still opt out of plastic sacks and ask for paper bags instead. I have always found paper bags charming, and they are made from 100% recycled paper which breaks down in the compost bin. When it gets closer to Christmas, I use the bags as wrapping paper. The paper looks beautiful under the tree. There are many blogs on decorating with brown paper and branches or twigs. Learn more from this post at “The Inspired Room.”
7. Buy Your Food from the Right Place
There is no denying that Christmas and food go hand-in-hand. I am able grow many of my own products, but not all. I am using this seasonal gastronomic extravaganza as an opportunity to show my support for some brilliant local small-scale farmers. Turkey and any other cuts of meat is a good place to start: I‘ll use fewer food miles, less packaging and I can feel good about the food I am eating. Plus, I’ll be able to catch up on the latest while enjoying a cup of coffee with my neighbor.
8. Live, Love, Local
Small and local businesses are generally better for the planet because they use more sustainable business practices and don’t waste energy shipping things. Let’s all support a local business and get someone you love a unique gift that gives back to your community too.