5 Simple Ways to Cut Costs and Waste This Holiday Season

Have Yourself an Eco-Friendly Christmas
Words by Kate Voss

Holiday traditions require a time commitment, but most of that part of the preparation brings people together in fun activities. The harder part relates to the costs of setting up and maintaining holiday cheer. There are a few tricks families can learn to trim some of the financial costs while taking strain off of the environment, too.

babblecomMake Your Own Gifts
Rather than succumbing to the mind-numbing process of heading to the mall and getting a one-size-fits-all gift, some people are turning their creative impulses into unique gifts. These gifts depend largely on the giver and the recipient, but the possibilities are only limited by the imagination. Most people won’t find it hard to take homemade baked goods in attractive packaging made from recycled materials, for example. Kids often love interactive gifts, like crafts, which can also provide them something to do after the gifts have all been opened. Other ideas range from homemade body cleansing products to personalized posters and cards, to gifts of money in origami style.

pickywallpapersGet a Real Christmas Tree
One of the most lamented aspects of having a Christmas tree is watching it dry out and then having to dispose of it. Truly, that signifies the end of the special holiday season ambiance. People can choose an environmentally-friendly way to transform this into a happy, year-long aspect of Christmas by using a living tree. Once you have gone through the steep learning curve, maintaining a living Christmas tree can become a bonding experience for all family members of any age. The care consists of consistent actions to keep the tree at the right humidity and temperature, but it isn’t difficult. Best of all, at the end of the season, your family will have a tree to plant outside as a reminder of the holiday for years to come.

Make Sure You Have Proper Insulation
All the gatherings during the last month or so of the year send some people heading to the thermostat to set it to max. Of course, people have to maintain a comfortable temperature, but simple solutions like replacing filters, cleaning water heaters, installing draft guards and insulating windows will cut costs quite dramatically. Simply double checking the insulation and cracks on walls can also reduce heat transfer from a house.

More modern techniques, like zoned heating and programmable heating systems also help optimize how heat circulates through a living space. Also, if you use cellulose insulation, you may consider installing fiberglass instead, as it’s less flammable. With that said, however, fiberglass presents its own safety hazards (mostly particulate). Do your research, and make sure to consult home insurance providers in your area to make sure that you can protect your home against fire-damage if you stick with cellulose.

LED lights can significantly cut down on the amount of energy needed to light up a tree or, for that matter, the exterior of a house. Generally speaking, LED lights cost just pennies on the dollar to power when compared with conventional bulbs. All things considered, these bulbs make the most sense in the long term, both in terms of cost and all the headaches associated with Christmas lights. Less energy consumption obviously helps the environment, but customers’ wallets will appreciate the savings too. An added benefit is the fact that LED lights are significantly brighter than their traditional counterparts, giving your home and tree even more sparkle than usual.

downloadWrap Your Gifts in Recycled Paper
Wrapping paper, while beautiful, really serves the most ephemeral purpose of all holiday accoutrements. Depending on the family, gifts stay under the tree for just a few weeks or so, and then the wrapping gets rapidly shredded and discarded without a second though. A simple solution many families have used for years is old newspapers. Some people prefer the comics section and strategically place the recipient’s favorite characters on their package (and who doesn’t like Snoopy?). Some extra creative (and ambitious) minds have even swapped the traditional for newspaper flowers! However, many used materials and objects around the house make attractive containers for gifts. Examples include old wooden crates, old fabrics and reusable containers and bags.

Photo credits
DIY gifts photo courtesy of babble.com
Tree photo courtest of pickywallpapers.com
LED decorated house photo courtesy of qumore.com
Recycled wrapping paper photo courtesy of gift-wrap1.blogspot.com

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