Delightful Christmas decorations with a touch of eco magic

Whether you like your decorations refined and glamorous, folksy and natural or bright and kitsch, there’s something wonderful about these upcoming few weeks of the year when we stumble bleary-eyed out of bed and find ourselves in a winter wonderland. Kay Hill puts on her elf hat and offers some decorating advice.

Enjoy a splendid real tree from Pines & Needles

Possibly the greenest option when it comes to Christmas trees is to grow your own potted tree, or buy a real tree with roots to plant out after Christmas. Pictured above: Pines & Needles is a UK company that grows its own trees in Scotland and in Belgium, and for every tree felled it plants three more. It delivers nationwide. For decorations check out the eco friendly, fair trade pieces at DejaOoh and Pipii, choose re-use crackers from Keep This Cracker and wrap gifts in recycled paper giftwrap from Re-wrapped.

*Click on images in the article to see them in large format with full caption info.

I’m going to admit this straight away - I'm not naturally ofthe less-is-more school of Christmas decorating. In fact, I have taken more-is-more to such levels that last year I ended up buying two trees to accommodate years' worth of accumulated Christmas decorations. One memorable year I decorated every single room in the house including the downstairs loo. 
If like me you never throw away anything Christmassy - my teenage kids are now seriously embarrassed that I still give pride of place on the mantelpiece to the loo roll baby Jesus and handprint angels they made at nursery - then your decorations stash isn’t likely to be an environmental hazard for many years to come. But when it comes to trees there's the question of whether to go with real or buy a fake one that can come out year after year.
DejaOoh's gorgeous hand-made paper origami decorations come in a wide range of colours and sizes
Vintage spools natural fair trade twines with a touch of glitter, £11.95 from Pipii.
Festive designs from UK recycled wrapping paper brand Re-wrapped, £1.50 a sheet.



The Linen Works suggests making table settings with a linen napkin
Festive design from Keep This Cracker - crackers you've flatten down again after festivities
Make your own decorations..start with a plain natural rattan wreath from Hobby Craft, £3
Here at Deco we love trees, and while they're growing, of course, Christmas trees are busy absorbing carbon dioxide. They're also recyclable into compost and fully biodegradable when the festive season is over, unlike artificial trees which are usually made from difficult-to-recycle PVC, often in China where environmental controls may be lax. There is, however, something just a little sad about cutting down a living tree just to decorate your sitting room so possibly the greenest option is to grow your own potted Christmas tree, or buy a real tree with roots that you can plant out after Christmas.
Pines And Needles
There is, of course, a certain amount of hassle involved in having a real Christmas tree.. not least the fact that what looks quite modest in the shop often mutates into a giant triffid when you try to cram it into the car. Enter Pines and Needles, which provides a national delivery service for its trees (grown on its own plantation in Scotland and in Belgium), which start at £36, plus a host of other services for customers within the M25. For example, basic delivery starts at £14.95, but the company will also put the tree on/in a stand, put the fairy lights on for you, or even, from £93, decorate it magnificently with your own decorations or their own range. AOh, and if you need any more convincing, the workforce come dressed in festive looking kilts! Pines And Needles
*Be aware there are several different species of tree. The traditional Victorian Christmas tree is the Norway Spruce, which has those pointed needles that impale themselves in your feet in the morning - they tend to drop their needles quite early on. The Nordman Fir is often called 'non-drop' as it will last around four weeks indoors before drying out and dropping its needles. Fraser Firs have a lovely subtle scent and soft needles and if pot-grown they survive quite well in British gardens.


Fairtrade recycled glass baubles with antique silver/pewter finish, £8.50 for set of four at Pipii



Paper Christmas trees for the mantelpiece (36cms high) with LED button light, £13.95 from The Hangin
Vibrant red Hellebore re-useable crackers from Keep This Cracker, £6.95 for two.
Pines And Needles grows its own Christmas trees in Scotland and plants 3 trees for each one felled
The trust also has advice on subject of gift wrapping: 'The vast majority of wrapping paper goes straight in the bin by Christmas Day afternoon. Save and re-use bigger pieces, ribbons and bows. Much wrapping paper isn’t recyclable (metallic/foil/laminated paper) so will head straight to landfill. Wrapping presents in recycled brown paper and adding natural raffia instead of plastic frills and bows will reduce your impact. Use last year’s Christmas cards creatively cut up as tags for gifts, recycling paper and saving manufacture of new ones.'
If you can’t quite bear to re-use last year’s festive paper, the gorgeous festive designs from UK brand Re-Wrapped are bound to change your mind – these papers are so attractive that you really will be peeling off the Sellotape and ironing the sheets flat again. Re-wrapped’s papers are printed on 100gsm recycled paper, made entirely from post-consumer waste and from pulp that's not been bleached, printed with vegetable-based inks. 70x50cm sheets from £1, with limited edition papers by designer Emily Chapman at £1.50 a sheet. Re-wrapped
To be really green, you could avow sticky tape and do up your parcels the old-fashioned way - with natural twines from Pipii. The East Sussex-based decorations-for-every-occasion company offers appealing vintage wooden spools with three different decorative twines in silver, gold and natural colours. The 5m lengths of twine are Fairtrade, and of course the spools can be re-used. £11.95. Pipii.
Another huge source of Christmas waste are crackers – with around 100 million pulled what results in a huge amount of non-recyclable metallicised paper, nasty plastic junk, and don’t even get me started on the horror that is the party hat. Interested in a greener alternative? Check out Keep This Cracker, which makes beautiful crackers you can re-use repeatedly by just replacing the snap. The crackers, which you can fill with your own small gifts, are made in the UK from FSC-certified paper and come in re-sealable packaging to keep them safe for next year. £6.95 for two, from £14.50 for box of six, with half a dozen extra snaps for £1.10. Keep This Cracker
Pretty decorations
Consider the environmental impact of manufacture, the longevity of the item and its ultimate biodegradability to help determine the best green choices for your family. For example, many plastics aren't easily recyclable – but if you have a house full of young children and dogs it will be longer lasting and safer than glass baubles. You can’t go wrong with paper decorations as they come from a renewable resource and will biodegrade - look on Pinterest for great ideas on how to make your own, or visit the Hobbycraft website. But if you're short of time, can we suggest the vibrant origami stars from Deja Ooh to light up a room £10 for three red and white stars or £5.50-£9.50 for individual stars. Deja Ooh.
Pipii also has eco friendly, Fairtrade decorations, such as pretty recycled glass baubles with an aged silver or pewter finish. They're very good value as they come in a set of four for £8.50.
Once you have the tree, you need the lights..and thank heavens for LEDs. According to the Energy Saving Trust, a new string of LED lights will use 90 per cent less energy than old-style fairy lights, and if every household in the UK swapped one string of incandescent lights for an LED equivalent, during the 12 days of Christmas alone we could collectively save more than £16 million and 57,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide. And if you were even vaguely contemplating lighting up your garden and roof as well as your tree, be warned that an extravagant display using non-LEDs can cost as much as £170 to power throughout December – and produces enough CO2 to fill 140 telephone boxes.


If you want to illuminate not only your tree but your house and front garden, do choose LED lights.
Daphne colour changing LED shapeable 'branch' for the wall from Habitat,48 bulbs, £35.
Wire reindeer, s,m,l, made in Rajasthan, from £7.95 at Nkuku,
For something a bit different..tropical tree decorations made in Mexico from recycled tin, from £4
Try your hand at using natural greenery for decoration, as recommended by Larissa Cairns, creative director at The Linen Works. She suggests cinnamon sticks, sprigs of rosemary, pine stalks and berries to create impromptu napkin rings tied with garden twine. Do watch what berries you use though....mistletoe, holly, ivy and yew berries are all poisonous, and therefore probably best avoided.