Dreaming of an eco-friendly Christmas – or should that be a green Christmas (see what we did there!)? Check out the Nat Geo Kids guide to planet-friendly festivities…

Christmas cards

Everyone loves receiving Christmas cards in the post! And it’s extra nice right now when seeing our friends and family is trickier than usual. Here’s how to make sure your cards are planet-friendly:

* Avoid cards that come wrapped in plastic!
* Many shop-bought cards have glittery designs which make them un-recyclable. So choose recyclable cards, or cards made from recycled materials.
* Look out for the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) mark. That means the trees the cards are made from are sustainably grown.
* Avoid the shops and create your own cool cards from recyclable materials!
* To be super eco-friendly, forget posting cards altogether and send e-greetings instead


Enjoy an eco Christmas

Most of us already reuse our Christmas tree decorations, storing them in a box year after year. But if you’re thinking of adding more to your collection, avoid plastic ones. Here are our top tips for planet-friendly fandangles:

* Create homemade decorations –  try these edible ornaments or this fancy, fragrant pomander!
* Turn off your Xmas lights overnight to save electricity. 
* Need new lights? LED ones use less energy!
* Use natural items like holly, pine cones and mistletoe for table, mantlepiece  and door decorations. Foraging for them is fun, too! 


Take a look around your room. How many of your toys do you actually play with every day? Do you really need more stuff? Maybe instead of asking Santa for more toys this year, you could put an ‘experience’ on your wish list. Like, a trip out to a theme park with a friend. Or a surfing lesson! You can also ask your family to get all their gifts at online eco-stores this year.

Wrapping paper 

Sadly, the snazziest wrapping papers are impossible to recycle – glittery, glossy, laminated and foil gift wrap will all end up in landfill. Tape, ribbon and bows aren’t eco-friendly either. So try these wonderful wrappings instead!

* Save picture pages from newspapers and magazines to wrap gifts in. Select sports photos for footy fans, recipes for foodies or pics of politicians for news addicts.
* Secure your wrappings with twine or string tied in a bow instead of tape.
* Brown paper can be recycled. Try decorating it with drawings or printed stamps!
*Cut gift tags out of old Christmas cards or magazines.
* How about wrapping gifts in re-usable fabric scarfs sourced from charity shops? The scarf could be part of the present!

Try the scrunch test – if you scrunch wrapping paper in your hand, and if it stays scrunched it CAN be recycled. But if it springs back it can’t be.

Festive food

Christmas is a jolly good excuse to over-indulge, cramming as many mince pies, chocs and puds into our cake holes as possible! But did you know that Christmas is one of the most wasteful times of the year with millions of meals ending up in the bin. Here’s how to have a planet-friendly dinner!

* It sounds obvious, but don’t buy more than you need. And if you do get carried away, store excess food in the freezer or share it with your neighbours via the Olio app
* Get creative with your leftovers! How about a Christmas pizza with cranberry sauce instead of tomato puree, smothered in turkey, stuffing and left over cheese? Yum!
* Could you eat a delicious vegetarian dinner this year?  Or maybe swap the pigs in blankets for a veggie option?
* Meat-lovers could choose organic and free range options which are better for the planet.

And when all the festive fun is over…?
Check out our Christmas recycling guide!

Images ⓒ Getty Images: Eco wrapping – title image (1272279630), Christmas card painting (900233514), Pine cone, berries and tangerine (128391671), Letter to Santa (169260376), Hands holding presents (1188471033), Christmas dinner (1159390595).

What did you think of our guide to an eco-friendly Christmas? Do you have any tips to share? Let us know in the comments below!




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  • Alayna

    super helpful!

  • great

    really handy thank you good use of old material

  • Charley

    It's really fun and not only fun it's caring.

  • Jeff

    The scrunching paper was the best!!!

  • Jamie<3


  • shellie

    we make reusable gift wrap from fabric or use things like tea towels which are also useful. tied with string and add some lavender or something from the garden

  • emmy time

    great tips thanks yay

  • A's my name

    I like the one where you scrunch up paper

  • Alison

    I love this so much!☺

  • GracieH

    It has so many awesome tips and tricks! So informative!

  • Lucas

    Very cool

  • Crocodile

    Good tips

  • Crocodile

    This is the best

  • Fcstudent

    I use this for school!

  • Naman

    I love this idea. Let's follow it and go up with more ideas

  • Niffler

    Great ideas

  • Melissa

    I love this website !

  • Cookie

    Awesome tips


    super duper !

  • someone3910

    Save the planet!

  • Very helpful ♻️

  • Tina Holland

    Instead of using a gift bag buy a reusable shopping bag for your present. There are many attractive ones out there now and can become an additional gift.

  • Harry

    It was so nice and it was very easy to understand! Thank you for sharing and please keep it up!

  • blueHorse

    I think this was really great of you to do Nat Geo. You could also have a alive pine tree all year round and decorate it for each season. Sometimes donating your Christmas present money to charities can be more rewarding than having presents.

  • Ava

    WOW! That really helps the planet

  • Georgia

    I love the idea please come up with more eco friendly things

  • LJBorromeo

    christmas, good. but eco-friendly christmas, even better

  • Eco crazy girl

    Let’s take action ! Another idea is to use LED christmas lights !

  • Aisling

    I'm so excited to try these

  • Aisling

    wow how amazing

  • Bobbi

    Plastic is so bad for the interment and when we dump it won't go away for millions of years ,so we should use paper

  • Bobbi

    I think that is really right because in the world we are using to much plastic . Also when we dump the plastic it won't go away for millions of years!

  • cool

  • cool I love national geographic

  • poke_kid_37

    i still like my toys tho :(

  • Florence H

    I love to save the planet

  • I love it!

  • Sisi

    I love your ideas and I’ll definitely use your ideas. I love them!

  • ALexpotatoYeet

    These are wonderful! Ill make sure to use these tips

  • o,gvos]

    this is better then youtube

  • Emma

    This is soooooo helpful Thanks Tip: use gift bags that has already been given to you

  • Eco girl

    These are good if only people can follow them.

  • sophia

    great ideas!

  • Hannah010709

    Sounds like a plan to me!

  • These are some cool ideas.

  • abigailhobson

    soooo helpful I am glad I found it!!!

  • Tina

    If you can sew, make drawstring bags for your presents out of old clothes that are not good enough to be passed on. You can make them in a variety of sizes, they can be reused dozens of times. Make bags for big presents out of old pillow cases or sheets. For really interesting bags try sewing lots of scraps of material together in a variety of patchwork designs so even the smallest pieces of fabric are used.

  • SweetPea67

    Mixing two of my favourite things - saving the planet and Christmas!

  • cool

  • osteopwh

    I love these ideas! My family have made sooo many home-made Christmas cards and we COVERED the house in holly!!

  • Alice winter flower

    wow I will use this every year

  • fra6.7


  • Amazing!

  • Yenuli D. Silva

    Can't wait until it's x-mas!

  • Giraffe

    So cool!

  • maizy

    hi my name is maizy and i just wanted to say your webesite is amazing i love the anamal books im a kid and im in 4th grade and its hard.

  • Kileaua

    We’re inspired

  • Omega

    I think its a great idea

  • Mona Vitus

    oo cool but also happy Christmas everyone!!!

  • Holden

    Lets save the world.

  • Landon stephens

    Stop wasting trash because that can effect us because some trash gos in are ocean and it killes are fish and anmails and DON'T WAST PAPER we need trees.


    let's take part in this trash problem

  • Hooray!

    I have actually chosen reusable wrapping paper!

  • suz

    this is really cool

  • emily

    great ideas

  • emily

    So cool I will use them for my Family Secret Santa!

  • L

    Great ideas and tips!

  • gabriella

    great!!! :)

  • Gracie

    These are awesome ideas thank you so much Nat geo kids. But I probably would still like a few toys

  • haile

    cool i loved it

  • kitty6547

    love it

  • Anli

    Creative and great idea

  • xXSummzxX

    I love making chirstmas cards!

  • Caitlin

    So cool can’t wait to make some of these crafts

  • Cooldog2010

    So cool great tips

  • Angelina Kajombo

    These are great hacks. I will try these hacks, which will help the Earth. They also allow us to live longer.

  • Anne

    IMPORTENT I like this article because it encourges people to help animals and plants . please help the earth to one way is eat all your food becuase the food goes in the landfill then it gets burnt which makes harmful gases so reduce the gases by eating all your food.

  • Anh

    Can’t wait for Christmas to come.

  • Thanks for protecting the environment

  • Aoibhinn

    a covid christmas just got a load better with this eco friendly decor and presents

  • Chloe

    This was awesome

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