The season of joy, love and celebration. It is easy to get swept up in the festivities and forget to find the true spirit of Christmas! We often forget our responsibilities to Family, the Earth and Ourselves in the chaos of the holidays. Read on for a few pointers that will make this Holiday Season a very merry one indeed!

Slow Down: Stop running in circles, give yourself permission to say “No” to too many commitments, and focus your attention on the details that we so often miss. Revel in the smells of baking or the sounds of bells. Allow the Spirit of the holiday to envelop you in the warmth and joy it has to offer.

Make It Fun and Easy:
Decrease spending, stress and waste by having family members draw names and sticking to a ‘one gift’ rule. This allows each person to get one especially thoughtful and unique gift from someone who had the time to dedicate their effort.

Connect With Others: Make time for family traditions or create new ones. Bake with your children, send handwritten cards with gratitude for each recipient, organize holiday wrapping parties with friends and keep your focus on those you love.

Choose Sustainable Materials:
Organic cotton, hemp, silk, wood…all are natural, renewable materials. They add texture and character to gifts. And they support sustainable farmers.

Shop Locally-Owned:
Support your community and local economy by shopping small mom-and-pop stores, especially if those stores also sell locally made items.

Any non-glossy paper wrapping can be shredded for the compost or added to the recycling bins. Be sure to keep the bows and ribbons for multiple uses, as well as tissue paper, gift bags and boxes. Also, packaging from beverages or food containers should be rinsed and recycled as well.

The Gift of Charity:
Give money to a local charity, sponsor a child overseas or help impoverished women start a small business all in the name of your loved ones.

Less Is More:
Cluttered decorations are neither inspiring, nor beautiful. Keep it simple, forego the excess “stuff” and keep it clean to enjoy it more.

Connect with the Season: Light candles, decorate a Winter Table, create Advent traditions and reflect on the year or Christmas’ past. Surround yourself with the beauty of the holiday and the seasonal changes and savor what you begin to notice in the details.

Decorate With Nature:
Avoid plastic doodads and opt for wood, burlap, or organic cotton. Bring in elements from the outdoors to incorporate into your home, such as a wreath of pine boughs or an abandoned nest to place a candle within.

Research Green Christmas Tree Options:
Artificial trees used for a few years are less sustainable than a live tree that can be mulched and supports a small business. However, artificial trees used for 10-15+ years may use less energy in the long-run. A potted tree is another green choice that can be used for multiple years before planting outdoors.

Choose Handmade and Homemade:
Whether made by yourself or a local artisan, handmade items will bring a simple, beautiful energy into your home. Create your own ornaments or help your kids cut and hang snowflakes from scrap paper saved throughout the year.

Combine Shopping Trips:
Make your own list and check it twice to reduce trips for forgotten items. Find stores that sell the majority of items on that list and do as much of your shopping on one day as possible.

Energy-efficient LED Lighting:
If your strands of lights are older than 10 years it will be more efficient to replace them with newer, LED bulbs. They can also save you up to 90% or more on power costs and will last longer than traditional bulbs.

Utilize Timers:
All your Christmas lights should be on timers, from the strands adorning your trees to the lights outside. Don’t count on remembering to turn them off after a long day and plug the lights into a timer that remembers for you. Light timers can be found at any hardware store.

Celebrate Together:
Conserve resources and connect with others by celebrating your green Christmas at the home of friends or family. Or invite them to your home as your gift to them.

Make Your Own Greeting Cards:
Use the cards you received last year, a child’s artwork or your own craftiness to create new Green Christmas cards. Use recycled paper for holiday letters. Or send a family photo with your greeting handwritten on the back.

Choose durable and meaningful ornaments. Wood, metal, or cloth will all last longer than plastic or thin glass. And an ornament that symbolizes an important event from the year will mean it is kept and treasured for a lifetime.

And don’t forget to have yourself a Merry little Christmas!
Season’s Greetings from Goel Ganga Group