Here are ten easy yet effective plastic-free and zero-waste Christmas decorations for you to make this festive season, and enjoy year after year.
We all love to decorate our homes at Christmas time, to bring a little extra sparkle to our lives over the dark winter. It’s certainly one of my favourite things about the festive season.
What I don’t love is the plastic overwhelm at Christmas time. Retailers may have finally started to realise we want a less plastic Christmas, but it doesn’t feel like it has stopped the tidal wave of plastic decorations hitting shop shelves.
I always feel that Christmas doesn’t have to be synonymous with plastic. If you feel the same, then the good news is that there are heaps of planet-friendly ways to decorate at Christmas time. Perhaps some of these plastic-free and zero-waste Christmas decorations, made from natural and compostable materials, will be up your street.
The good news is you don’t have to buy anything new. With a lot of these crafts, it’s a case of using what you already have to hand.
Before I begin, please, don’t bin your existing decorations just because they’re made of plastic. Remember, as with most items, the most eco-friendly Christmas decorations are the ones you already own. Re-using what we already have is always the absolute pinnacle of zero waste.
If you’ve got reams of tinsel and plastic baubles galore from Christmases gone by, then decorate using them with joyful abandon! I’ve got plastic baubles on my Christmas tree from when I was a kid, and they bring me SO much joy. I’m hoping that one day they might bring my kids joy too.
The Zero Waste Christmas Decorations to DIY
Disclaimer over, let’s move on to the decorations! Here are 10 of my favourite eco-friendly and plastic-free Christmas decorations to make:
Dried Orange Garland
Dried orange slices are pure Instagram catnip, and for good reason – they are stunningly effective. The good news is that if you want your house to look and smell amazing for Christmas, then these garlands are so easy to make. Follow House of Jade Interiors for the full tutorial.
A word of advice. Reserve the dried oranges for indoor decorations only. What I’ve found is that if you use them on outdoor decorations the oranges rehydrate and start to rot. However, if you keep them indoors, and then after Christmas store them in an airtight container, such as a jar or old Tupperware box, then you can use your dried oranges year after year.
Zero Waste Salt Dough Stars Christmas Decorations
Salt dough ornaments aren’t just for kids, although you can certainly get your kids involved in making them.
This simple yet stylish Christmas-scented salt dough garland can be made by following Rocky Hedge Farm’s easy tutorial. If you have any stars left over, individual stars would also look amazing hanging on your tree or used in your gift wrapping.
As before, it’s best to use salt dough decorations for indoor decor only. And when you take your decorations down, it’s best to store salt dough ornaments in an airtight container. Again, if exposed to moisture they can go damp and rot in storage.
If you want bright white stars, then try my tutorial for homemade clay decorations. These are made using cornflour and bicarbonate of soda (or baking soda depending on where you are) and can be stored for use year after year.
If you are a keen crocheter, then this one’s for you. If you have any odds and ends of wool left over from other projects, then try making these beautiful crochet stars. Hang them on your Christmas tree as baubles, string them up in a garland, or use them instead of bows on Christmas gifts. The possibilities are endless! The free pattern is available from Persia Lou.
Looking for more crochet inspiration? Try my guide to crochet Christmas decorations to make.
Origami Star Garland
If you have a collection of paper – perhaps saved from deliveries and old wrapping paper – then this plastic-free origami stars tutorial from Girl About Townhouse is an easy one to follow.
All you need is paper, string, and a craft knife. You’ll be seeing stars in no time! Alternatively, this tutorial would be a great one for slightly older kids to follow. Pop a Christmas movie on and they’ll be busy for hours!
Zero-Waste Foliage Candle Holders Christmas Table Decorations
I love the complete and utter simplicity of these festive candle holders from Traumzuhause. If you’ve got some empty wine bottles and some greenery then voila, an instant plastic-free and zero-waste Christmas decoration for your dining table. Snippings from your Christmas tree would work, as would some ivy, rosemary, or eucalyptus. Skill level zero. My kind of Christmas craft!
Do note the post is written in German, so use an online translation service if your German isn’t up to scratch or non-existent! However, the good thing is this craft is incredibly simple to put together, so you shouldn’t need too much by way of instructions!
Paper Bag Stars
Got a bunch of paper bags that you are never going to use? Make these beautiful zero-waste paper bag stars with this easy tutorial from The Merry Thought.
I would recommend securing the final bag with a paperclip or two, instead of glueing it. This way, you will be able to fold your star flat and reuse it year after year. Otherwise, storing it so that it doesn’t get damaged is going to be tricky.
Orange Peel Garland
This sweet and simple orange peel garland is a great plastic-free craft idea. The original post that I linked to by Laura Pashby no longer exists, but try this very similar tutorial from Lovilee instead.
Simply save up your orange peels, and get making. Once done, you can then drape your garlands on your Christmas tree, on your mantlepiece, or dangle them from your window for a lovely scented zero-waste decoration. Just remember the storage rules for dried fruit (popping it in an airtight tub) so that you can reuse these pretty decorations year after year.
Popcorn & Cranberry Garland
If you want an easy zero-waste Christmas decoration, then try this Cranberry and popcorn garland from Mountain Cravings. That is if you don’t eat all the popcorn first! Again, this could be a great one for slightly older kids to get involved in.
I’ve also had a go at making a popcorn garland and have picked up some useful tips on making it both plastic-free and easier to make, so do take a read at that too. I’ve found a really simple tip to help stop the popcorn from breaking when you put a needle through it – it will save you from so much frustration!
An important note. Although this garland is pictured outdoors, I personally wouldn’t use this garland outdoors. It will attract a host of wildlife. This is no bad thing in itself, but it’s important to bear in mind that popcorn fills birds up with little nutritional benefit, at a time of year when they should be eating fat and protein-rich foods to be able to survive the winter. Save it for decorating your Christmas tree in a low-waste way, or for stringing it up on your stairs or walls.
This pine cone garland from Decor Adventures is another great decoration that can be used year after year. I personally would omit the glitter, as regular glitter is a microplastic. What’s more, it turns out even the stuff labelled as eco-friendly glitter is not great for the environment.
Yet even without the sparkles, this plastic-free garland will still look great on your mantlepiece this festive season. You’ll also have great fun foraging for pinecones on a bracing winter walk.
Zero-Waste Rosemary Wreath Christmas Decoration
Finally, this mini wreath garland from The Merry Thought is another easy plastic-free and zero-waste make for the festive season. It’s easy to put together, yet eye-catching and incredibly effective. Make it using rosemary, and it will also fill your home with a lovely natural scent.
Now, if you’ll please excuse me, I’m off to get busy with some plastic-free crafting!
If you have any other zero-waste Christmas decorations ideas, then please do share them with the Moral Fibres community in the comments below. I’d love to hear!
And if you aren’t a crafty person, then do check out my guide to eco-friendly and ethical Christmas decorations for heaps of planet and people-friendly decorations. Meanwhile, no Christmas is complete without a Christmas tree, so here’s my guide to the most sustainable and eco-friendly Christmas trees. You can also check out my guide to having an eco-friendly Christmas – it’s bursting with festive ideas that are kind to the planet!