Our Christmas 2017

Brown Paper Wrapping Ideas

Well I had, and am continuing to have, a wonderful Christmas. I’ve purposely done less preparing this year and it’s paid off in terms of lots of downtime to slob around the house in my PJ’s eating lots of delicious cheese and chocolate and binge-watching Christmas TV and movies. I am generally a very active person with a million things to do, so I’m genuinely impressed at my ability this year to spend hour upon hour doing absolutely nothing. I can’t even be bothered to think of some New Year’s resolutions!

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Brown Paper Wrapping

So seeing as I’m honing my talent as a couch potato this week, with not a glimmer of inspiration or interest to offer, here’s a pictorial run down on my work last week!

As I’ve said before I don’t buy presents for non-family members, which means I have very little to wrap.  I do however buy small tokens for my kids to give to relatives that buy for them, so I get a chance to test out some wrapping ideas on these few items. This year I wrapped them in the brown paper found the inside rolls of wrapping paper, buttons from my button box, gold paper twine or sparkly thread that I already owned or ribbon rescued from previous gifts. My gift labels were cut from old Christmas cards using cookie cutters as a template and I used paper tape so that the wrapping was completely recyclable or composted. My husband did one better and reused Christmas gift bags and tissue paper for his gifts, which were swiftly secreted back into my office once unwrapping was complete – ready for next year.

Crocheted Cat
Snowman Cookie

All the presents I gave this year were either pre-loved or home-made, including this really cute crocheted cat made with wool passed on to me by a friend, and these snowman cookies made for my kids’ teachers. All the ingredients for the cookies either came package-free or in compostable packaging, except for the jelly laces uses for the scarf, which came in a recyclable film bag.

Grafton St at Christmas

Not spending hours traipsing around shops gave me the one thing I am often in short supply of – time, and what better way to spend it than with lovely people who enrich and enhance my life. I love visiting the city centre around Christmas. It’s a great way to get into the spirit and this year we gave our business to JT Pims, a bar that purposely avoids giving straws in drinks.

DIY Crackers

Crackers on our Christmas table this year were made from a plastic-free DIY kit that I bought on sale in Marks and Spencer a few years ago. The gifts inside were purchased from charity shops and were accompanied with foil-wrapped chocolates bought loose from a local store.

Homemade Mincepies

I kept baking to a minimum too this year but one tradition we maintained was to make mince pies for Santa on Christmas Eve. I use this easy kid-friendly recipe for Mince Pies by BBC Good Food using homemade vegan mincemeat. The mince-pie recipe asks for a pastry top but I think it’s much easier, and nicer, to cover the mincemeat with streusel topping. To make streusel topping just rub 50g of butter into 25g of flour until it resembles fine breadcrumbs, then stir in 25g of sugar, and 25g of nuts (optional) and sprinkle the mixture onto each pie. I also left the figs, blueberries, almonds and rosemary out of the mincemeat recipe and it still tasted delicious. I was delighted to be able to buy all the ingredients for my mincemeat package-free and organic from Bring Your Own this year.

Ethical Presents

I’m an ultra pragmatist, and fussy as hell, so prefer to tell my husband what I want for Christmas than risk getting something I don’t want. This year I asked for some UK-made organic / natural moisturiser in a recyclable container from Green People. He very cleverly accompanied this gift with some divine package-free chocolates. According to him he caused consternation in the shop when he asked to use his own container. That was a gift in itself!

I was also thrilled at the efforts of my in-laws to buy gifts for us in as little packaging as possible, something that I fully appreciate isn’t at all easy to do. It truly is the thought that counts.

Looking at these photos you could be forgiven for thinking that our Christmas was ultra-sustainable. Far from it. The toys requested from Santa came in a tonne of packaging, and despite our efforts to keep food packaging to a minimum some stores were too busy to accommodate us using our own packaging this month, so we ended up with slightly more in our bins than the norm.  But living lightly is not about being perfect it’s about doing what you can, where you can, and that we did.

Have a wonderful New Year guys and see you in 2018.


PS – For other Christmas ideas search ‘Christmas’ at the bottom of this webpage and don’t forget to like my new Living Lightly in Ireland Facebook Page or follow me on Instagram 

Published by Elaine Butler

I am a circular design consultant helping manfacturers prepare for the circular economy

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