13 Ideas for Sustainable Holiday Decor

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Holiday decorating can be exciting, but it can also be a bit stressful when you consider the time, money, and effort that goes into it. Many times, the cheap, plastic decorations we buy only last one season and end up in the trash soon after the holidays end. In order to make decorating fun and cut your costs, consider making sustainable holiday crafts instead. 

Here are 13 sustainable holiday craft ideas to get you started. You can find most of the materials needed in your home already. And if these decorations don’t last you season to season, you can rest easy knowing most of them are biodegradable and can be composted.

1Funky Pasta Trees

Pasta + food coloring + felt = the cutest darn pine trees you’ve ever seen, like these from Instagram user @handmadecharlotte. Soak dried pasta in food coloring (the longer you leave it, the deeper the color will be), then glue the pasta on top of triangular pieces of felt for the finished look. Back the trees with leftover cardboard from your Amazon deliveries for a sturdy base.

2Simple Snowflakes

Don’t toss that toilet paper roll! Frida Ramstedt used the cardboard from recycled toilet paper rolls to create beautiful snowflakes that look stunning and take minimal effort to put together. For those with even less time on their hands, check out how she used the same materials to create a minimalist wreath.

3Snowy Centerpieces and Wall Decor

Instagram user @FrancesIvyRose uses only natural materials to create her holiday decor, with an amazing snow hack: salt. She also makes a natural glue from flour and water that is easy to work with and costs a fraction of what chemical glue can add up to. To re-create this winter wall hanging, collect pine cones, holly berry sprigs, or whatever nature is in your neighborhood, along with a stick or branch, and some natural twine.

4Dried Fruit and Veggie Ornaments

For a sweet or savory twist on your holiday tree, create your ornaments entirely out of dried fruits and veggies. Apples, oranges, strawberries, sweet potatoes, and even sugar snap peas can all be easily dehydrated in your oven. Their natural colors and unique shapes will brighten any space. Compost them at the end of each season once you’re done.

5Wrapping Paper Fans

Landfills get over 2.3 million pounds of wrapping paper dumped every year, and most wrapping paper can’t be recycled, either. Emily Dawe gives old wrapping new life with these simple paper fans that can be hung around the house, in your windows, or used as a dinner table centerpiece.

6Kwanzaa Crafts

It’s also easy to create a Kwanzaa kinara with used paper towel rolls. You can cut and paint them like Instagram user @craftingfunlife did, and add flames with tissue paper. Decorate the candles with objects from around your house for a funky mixed media look.

7Old-School Garlands Made From Snacks

Nothing could be easier than stringing together popcorn, cranberries, and/or slices of dried fruit to make a completely compostable garland. Depending on the length you want, it may take more time to sew it all together, but this craft also makes for a great activity to do while watching your favorite Hallmark holiday film.

8Foraged Winter Wreath

To make sustainable crafts, TikTok user @eat.play.paint frequently uses bioplastic, a form of biodegradable plastic made of natural materials like vegetable fats or cornstarch. We adore this completely natural holiday wreath, which takes only a few minutes to construct and is 100 percent biodegradable. Foraging for natural elements like pinecones, pine sprigs, and more is also a great outdoor activity. 

9Rustic-Style Trees

This decoration is pretty genius: All it takes is a few sticks and a leftover cork from your favorite bottle of wine (thank you, Instagram user @tastet_dedeco). Glue the sticks together in a triangle pattern from smallest to biggest. You may have to break or cut a few to get the angles just right. Complete it with a wine cork trunk. Add a natural wood cut for a base (Christmas tree stands always have extras!) and garnish with some LED lights or holly sprigs and these can last you well into the winter season.

10Cozy Winter Lanterns

Isabella Asensio came up with the perfect solution for all those random jar lids and bottle caps you come across in your kitchen junk drawers: upcycled winter lanterns! Layer a few lids on top of each other to create the top of the lantern, paint everything in your desired color, add an LED tea light, and you’re ready to go. For extra credit, paint a washed-and-dried condiment cup, and upcycle an old belt or headband for the lantern’s handle.

11Dried-Flora Candle Holders

Meadow lovers will enjoy the sweet simplicity these candle holders provide on a cold winter’s day. Instagram user @nurrkknekr shows us how to simply gather a few leaves, stems, or flowers and gently tape them to the outside of a clear-glass vase or jar. Wrap parchment paper or tissue paper (both biodegradable) around the outside to create the silhouette effect.

12Peppermint Candy Plate

Up your cheese board game with a plate you can also eat. TikTok users @JanelleAndKate baked peppermint candies in a shallow baking dish and let it cool until it became rehardened. Carefully remove the finished product and top with your favorite holiday treats for a truly stunning presentation. Once the entertaining is over, break the plate into pieces and use for peppermint bark or crumble for brownies, hot chocolate, and more.

13Build a Book Tree

Finally, if you want to stay away from fake trees — which are reusable but made from synthetic materials that aren’t biodegradable — or real trees — which are biodegradable but can be tricky to dispose of properly — get creative with that pile of old books you hardly read but can’t bear to part with. Book trees are fun to construct and look really cool, and you don’t even need a personal library’s worth of novels to pack a punch. Check out these creative constructions for more inspiration.

Tags: Christmas, Environment, gifts, holiday season, Sustainability

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Written By

Katka Lapelosová

Katka is a writer from New York City, currently living in Belgrade, Serbia. See Full Bio

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