How to have a ‘green’ Christmas tree

naturaldecs-575x431I remember the moment well.

We were driving along the road following a lorry when Little Miss Green was 4 or 5.

LMG suddenly sat forward to see what was on the back of the lorry and she couldn’t believe her eyes.

“Are those trees?” she asked.

I told her they were Christmas trees and that every year millions were cut down, the roots were cut off and they were sold to people like us who put them in our houses for two or three weeks.

Little Miss Green was horrified. She’s been a tree custodian all her life. She seems to have a real connection with them, a love of them, a naturally protective spirit which defends them.

She vowed that we were never to have a Christmas tree again.

Ever since then we’ve had branches cut from her favourite tree – Maggie. Maggie is a Magnolia tree and each Yule she gets a trim and offers her best branches to our home. They are bought indoors and stood in a bucket of sand with pebbles around the top that have been collected on various summer trips to the beach.

Most of the decorations are ones I inherited when I left home and they have been added to with home made offerings. Little Miss Green and I sit and sew snowmen, Robbins, Christmas puddings and all sorts of things from felt and off cuts of material. They are stuffed with sheeps wool, dried spices and essential oils to bring natural scents into our home.

We dry satsumas on the fire and stud oranges with cloves. We hang bunches of cinnamon sticks. We thread popcorn and cranberries onto strings. We bring in natural greenery such as holly and evergreen branches from our hedges.

At the end of the season natural decorations are hung outside for the birds to take their pickings before composting the rest.

Yes we have tinsel, yes we have glittery baubles, but all is at least 20 years old and still going strong. Maggie’s branches get dried and burned the following season and it feels good to be making our festive season just a little bit greener. We celebrate Yule rather than Christmas, so it feels totally right to have natural decorations which celebrate the beauty of the earth.

Over on Reduce Footprints, we’re asked to share our ideas about greener Christmas decorations for our Change the World Wednesday challenge. What about you – how do you make your Christmas or Yule decorations more eco friendly?


  1. nadine sellers on November 19, 2011 at 6:46 pm

    gleaning cedar or pine branches from our trees has been a pleasure; the scent and feel of the resinous boughs seems to clean the air and purify thoughts.
    i spot the haw berries or mountain holly along streets and take a few branchlets from them, these are public spaces and need inoffensive trimming as in spring all will be hacked back to proper traffic heigth. i decorate a center piece with small bunches usually, a large platter or bowl filled with fruits, apples pears, squash or painted gourds. (in the desert i had coyote melons and hard berries which i spray painted with leftover colors.)

    yes i do use cinnamon sticks and cloves but they rejoin the spice food group as soon as the year turns, a little dusting in order..

    i hang a wreath or bow of conifer branches or any holly if found..tie them with a cloth bow and old bells or red item on the door as well when possible. and Yule it is..

  2. Melissa on November 20, 2011 at 11:46 am

    What wonderful ideas! I have tried various “green” options for our holiday decorations, but yours sound just lovely. It doesn’t seem that you lose anything by not having the traditional full tree – in fact you gain a whole lot more in connection to nature with the things you choose to bring into your home and their life cycle. I love that it was all led by LMG, too!

  3. Mrs Green on November 21, 2011 at 9:55 am

    @nadine sellers: cedar branches, now there’s a treat. Sounds lovely and with such healing properties too. The table centrepiece sounds lovely too – thanks for sharing your ideas with us 🙂

    @Melissa: Thanks Melissa; yes I feel we gain too although we get strange looks from friends when they visit – they can’t quite get their heads around a bucket of twigs LOL!

  4. nadine sellers on November 21, 2011 at 7:25 pm

    a bucket of twigs! well this lovely practice may become more common as folks wrap their heads around their budgets; the economy has already had a beneficial effect on daily living everywhere and mother earth must be delighted by the long overdue restraint. please do post a couple of holiday photos so that we may rejoice collectively..

  5. Mrs Green on November 29, 2011 at 9:13 am

    @nadine sellers: I saw the tiniest live Christmas tree in a garden centre this week priced at £22.99 I was shocked at how much this ‘disposable’ item was…So yes, maybe we can appeal to people’s wallets if not their conscience…

  6. HK Mama on February 5, 2012 at 8:52 am

    Living in Hong Kong we certainly didn’t want to buy an overpriced fir tree, chopped off in Norway and shipped halfway around the world, so 2 years ago I went to our local gardening centre for some inspiration. Ended up buying a locally grown 4 ft high Chinese Juniper in a pot, and it’s been living with us ever since, spending the year outside on our balcony, and we bring it in for Christmas to decorate, only to take it out again after the holidays are over. Some gentle pruning keeps it in shape, and it’s only become bushier and more beautiful over the years.

  7. Mrs Green on February 13, 2012 at 1:56 pm

    @HK Mama: That is a wonderful idea; thank you so much for sharing. I take it doesn’t grow too much because it’s in a pot. You’re an inspiration as I think many have this good intention but don’t actually get around to doing it.