Ho' Ho' How to be sustainable this Christmas

A selection of brown paper wrapped presents with dried orange slice decoration

3 December 2021

Ho' Ho' How to be sustainable this Christmas

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Here is our guide on how to be more sustainable this Christmas. Christmas is the season of giving, so let’s give back to the environment this year! From recyclable wrapping paper and decorations to handmade gifts, small changes can make a big difference. Let’s make this year our most eco-friendly sustainable Christmas yet!


Christmas trees

Who doesn’t love waking up on Christmas morning and seeing the joy on your little one’s face when they realise Santa has made a special visit and placed a present under the tree? Imagine if that tree could then go on to help the environment. There are so many ways you can use your Christmas tree after the festive season – there’s even a service where you can rent a tree. If you buy a fake tree, these can be sustainable if you use them for a number of years to come, because fake trees are made of plastic which is not easy to dispose of. A real tree is the preferred sustainable option and there are a number of ways you can use it after the festive season, such as:

  • Turn it into firewood for your log burner
  • Replant it and watch it grow
  • Turn it into compost for your plants
  • Repurpose it as an animal habitat or shelter for wildlife in the colder months
  • Create potpourri by putting the beautifully scented pine needles in a cloth bag and placing it in your home or wardrobe for a fresh forest smell. Spice it up with some cinnamon sticks or cranberries for a Christmassy scent.
  • At Center Parcs we repurpose the Christmas trees and turn them into the wood chippings you see around the village

Now we have a sustainable tree, we need to decorate it. To make your tree look pretty but also eco-friendly, simply re-use old decorations or buy them second hand so you still get the satisfaction of a new bauble without the carbon footprint. For a unique and individual touch, have a go at creating your own Christmas tree decorations out of recycled materials or clay – little ones will love to help out! Don’t forget to add the date on the back so you can treasure the memory in years to come. Or go foraging and look for some pinecones to place on the tree – these are beautiful natural ornaments and a lovely way to bring the outside in.



As Christmas is the time for giving and receiving, let’s make our presents sustainable this year – giving gifts that your friends, family and the planet will love. It’s important to be a mindful shopper and a key thing to remember when doing your Christmas shopping is ‘quality, not quantity’, because this will help reduce waste. One way to be mindful is to support your local high-street by shopping locally where you can - you can find so many amazing things in independent businesses! Shopping locally moves away from ‘fast fashion’ where goods are made quickly and cheaply. These types of products normally have a large carbon footprint, whereas on your local high-street you have a better idea of where the items were sourced. Some sustainable present ideas are:

  • Bake some edible gifts. Some delicious festive favourites are Gingerbread Men or Mince Pies - or check out our festive cookies recipe.
  • Create a handmade gift to add some personal and sentimental value to a present, e.g. clay ceramics, sewing, painting etc.
  • Gift an experience instead of a material gift
  • Buy from independent businesses

We need something to wrap these up in, so why not find some recyclable wrapping paper? The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs previously estimated that every year around 83 sq km of wrapping paper will end up as waste - enough to gift wrap an area larger than Guernsey! When shopping, look for the recyclable symbol on the wrapping paper you buy or do the ‘scrunch test’ on wrapping paper you already have - if you scrunch it and the paper stays in place it is recyclable, but if you scrunch it and it unfolds it is non-recyclable. Look for eco-friendly present decorations - twine can be used again instead of plastic ribbon which is harmful for the environment and could end up hurting wildlife, or natural present decorations like pinecones from the forest instead of plastic stick-on bows.


Christmas dinner

Everyone’s favourite part of Christmas…the food! By only buying the food you need, you can make your Christmas eating habits sustainable too. Unilever previously estimated that more than 4.2m Christmas dinners go to waste on the big day, including enough gravy to fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool! Use up any leftover food the next day – why not turn them into the family favourite bubble and squeak? Don’t throw food away this festive season - if you have any unopened jars or unperishable goods, donate them to a food bank and give something back this Christmas.

Set the table with some recyclable Christmas crackers or make them personal and create your own! Christmas crackers are full of plastic, so look for ones that can be recycled and contain sustainable surprises. Or if you are feeling creative, make your own crackers. Personalise a name tag, create a paper hat and add a homemade gift – the perfect table setting and conversation starter without the excess waste.


Sustainability at Center Parcs

At Center Parcs we try to be sustainable all year round, and we have special sustainability measures in place at Christmas time. Many of our guests choose to leave their real Christmas trees behind in their lodge after their break, so we collect them and recycle by turning them into the wood chippings you see in various areas of the village. They are also auctioned to our colleagues to take home and the money raised is donated to charity. We do our best to support our charity partners, so over the festive period we donate surplus craft materials, toys, and Christmas decorations to help the charities in need. We also decorate our villages with LED Christmas lights to reduce our energy consumption.


The meaning of Christmas

It’s easy to get carried away with the overindulgence of the festive season and feel under pressure to make sure everything is perfect, but try to avoid getting stressed and spending excessive amounts on items and food you don’t really need. Christmas should be about simply spending quality time with loved ones and creating treasured family memories together – so relax and enjoy it!

handmade Christmas tree decorations, a star made out of twigs and a dried orange slice
A person replanting a Christmas tree
Brown paper wrapped present with a twine bow

Sophie Borrill

As Marketing Assistant at Center Parcs, I love seeing and hearing all the amazing moments from your break. I love sharing exciting updates and helping our guest get back to nature.

Sophie Borrill