Go green when decorating for holidays

Holiday decoration choices are often based on tradition and childhood memories. We try to recreate a simpler time in elaborate detail. The result is stress and anxiety rather than the peace and tranquility we seek.

Christmas decorations were once home-made paper flowers, strings of popcorn or cranberries, apples, and sweets. This year, recreate those simpler traditions with unique, earth-friendly decorating tips.

You do not have to throw out your cherished decorations, just pare them back and don’t buy more petroleum-based tinsel or energy-wasting light strings. There are better alternatives.


Light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs use up to 90 percent less energy than regular bulbs, and they last up to 100 times as long. They also stay cool to the touch, so you won’t burn your fingers or your tree. Many home improvement stores carry them, or find them at greenhome.com.

If you still have traditional light strings, keep in mind that blinking lights use less energy than a steady glow, and a longer the dark cycle uses even less energy. Holiday light timers with a “random” setting can turn any light string into blinking lights.

Candles provide a warm, cozy atmosphere while reducing electricity use. Avoid petroleum-based paraffin candles in favor of clean-burning beeswax, vegetable wax or soy candles.


The Christmas wreath on the front door can be traced back to New Year’s celebrations in ancient Rome. The Romans exchanged evergreen branches as wishes of good health, and it became customary to bend the branches into a circle and hang them over doorways.

This year, consider wishing your backyard birds good health with a birdseed wreath. Many online bird supply retailers sell them, or make your own. Allow the birds to feast all season long, or if you hang your wreath behind a storm door, move it to the backyard after the holidays. If you prefer evergreen wreaths, buy a plain one and accent it with cinnamon sticks, nutmeg and pine cones.

Table Centerpieces

Small wreaths make perfect surrounds for pillar candles.

A clear glass or silver bowl filled with pomegranates, pine cones and a few evergreen sprigs looks festive.

If you’re handy, make a centerpiece from a relatively straight, sturdy branch. Carve out a row of depressions just big enough for tea lights and sprinkle the branch with white glitter. Coat the tips of some pine cones with more white glitter and place around the branch. Accent with evergreen sprigs and cinnamon sticks.

Christmas Tree Ornaments

Continue the natural theme on your tree. Especially if you have kids, making ornaments is a fun family activity.

Make your own garlands by stringing together popped popcorn or dried cranberries. This requires a needle, so it’s a job for the older kids. Or make paper chains using strips of crepe paper or wrapping paper.

Once again, pine cones tipped with white glitter make natural-looking ornaments. Spray-paint some silver, gold, red or green for a splash of color. Hang them using colored ribbon.

Bundles of cinnamon sticks, also tied with colored ribbon, look like little bundles of firewood and make the whole house smell fantastic.

Remember the Mistletoe

Although mistletoe has become a slightly cheesy Christmas cliche, the Celtic and Teutonic peoples believed it had magical powers. The Celts hung it for luck and to ward off evil spirits. Let the mistletoe’s deep green leaves add variety to any of the above decorating ideas.

Christmas is about love and family. Give yourself the time and energy to enjoy both this season with an old-fashioned homemade Christmas.