Make yours a mindful Christmas

Whilst we could list endless things we love about the festive season, there’s no denying that Christmas has the power to send your stress levels (and carbon footprint) soaring. With that in mind, we’ve rounded up 15 ways to keep your guests, the environment – and yourself – happy, come the holidays.

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Ashley Wilson wrapping Christmas gifts

Keep calm and carry on

1. Whether it’s when you’ve finished the shopping, how you do the decorations or the pressure to cook the elaborate pancetta-with-everything Christmas dinner (we’re looking at you, Instagram) there’s something about Christmas that brings out our competitive side. Repeat after us: it’s not a race, or a contest, and it always sort of comes together at the end anyway, right?

2. We’ve seen your diary, and there’s not a free five minutes in sight until the New Year. By all means plot in the parties, but consider officially scheduling in the calm moments too, like time for a long bath or lie in. (Plus, save on a couple of nights out and the endless stretch to January payday will feel that little bit swifter.)

3. Time missed with guests is a recipe for resentment, so if it’s your turn to host, think about what you can coordinate ahead of their arrival. It might mean getting the guestroom sorted with fresh bedding a few days before, setting the table on Christmas Eve or even cutting down on complicated cooking – but it’ll be worth it.

4. There’s no cure for festive indulgence like a blast of fresh air. Get as many of the gang as possible out the door – only Grandad snoozing on the sofa gets a free pass – and declare it a new Christmas tradition. Desperate for some alone time? Pop out under the guise of posting a letter or doing a quick dash with the dog.

5. Find some space away from the flurry of the festivities. Bedroom, bathroom… it doesn’t matter - just make sure you’ve got space to sit, read, meditate or take a few deep breaths. Pimp it out with soothing home fragrance, your favourite fluffy throw and take heed of some very wise words from Katherine Ormerod: “I always come prepared with books. It’s actually quite rude to stop someone reading, so it’s amazing how much you can hide behind your book”.

Christmas gift with string, fir sprig and pinecone


6. Swap synthetic ribbons for natural decorations like berries, pinecones and sprigs of foliage. Don’t feel you need to go foraging in the hedgerows (or the florists) for your finds – everyday plants like holly, rosemary and even cuts off your Christmas tree will do the trick. Scandi-inspired and sustainable? Count us in.

7. Go green on the gifts themselves. A reusable water bottle, 100% organic cotton shirt or a few vegan beauty buys are all sure to be a hit with the sustainably-minded. And consider cost-per-wear or cost-per-use – the best gift is always the one they’ll bring out time and time again.

8. If it’s the thought - and effort - that counts, baking a gift is hard to beat (and we’ve not seen a disappointed face yet). Our recipe for success? Give yourself plenty of time, gather the troops for help and stick your Christmas playlist on. Gifts with a longer shelf life, like biscotti or a homemade liqueur, will be much appreciated.

9. If it’s something you know they’ll appreciate, donating to a charity or sponsoring an animal is the ultimate feel-good gift. It can be considered controversial, so make sure it means something to them by personalising for each person - find out their favourite animal or a cause they feel passionate about.

10. It might seem obvious, but donating dodgy gifts to charity - we know how easy it is to bury them in the back of a cupboard – is a wonderfully simply way to minimise waste. If they’re nice-but-not-your-thing and there’s no receipt, crack your most convincing smile and pop them in the emergency gift drawer when no-one's looking.

People Tree Jamila Bouquet dress


11. Chose vegan beauty and sustainable fashion. There’s plenty of partywear with ethical credentials - take People Tree, who partner with Fair Trade pioneers across the world to produce eco-conscious collections. Beware the one-wear dress – you’ll get much more wear out of classic festive trends like velvet or sequins.

12. Consider the environmental costs of your Christmas dinner - choose loose vegetables, a panettone in a reusable tin and as much plastic-free packaging as you can. If you’re doing a big online order, opt to receive it without bags. There’ll be a bit of a dash to dump it all in the kitchen, but you’ll seriously save on landfill if you make it a habit.

13. There’s plenty to recycle and not all is obvious – start with the inevitable mountain of wrapping paper, but pile the Christmas cards, fresh foliage, old paper decorations and crackers into the green bin too. Store the most beautiful gift bags for next year and stick anything shiny into the crafts box.

14. While it can be a complex operation to transfer everything to tupperware (whilst you can’t imagine ever wanting to eat again) there’s plenty of genius recipes around for Christmas leftovers . The bonus is being able to justify anything via waste avoidance - if we have to eat a bowl of leftover stuffing by itself, then so be it.

15. If you’re going au naturel, look for an FSC-approved tree, which guarantees it’s been sustainably sourced. Once it's fulfilled its Christmas destiny (à la Phoebe Buffay) resist the temptation to add it to the ever-growing pavement graveyard - look out for local recycling schemes arranged by the council or take it to the garden waste section of the tip."