Christmas without the consumerism means remembering what Christmas is about: the birth of Jesus Christ. It’s about letting go of plastic gifts, walking in the snow, eating comfort food and watching old films. Read Calm Christmas, a delightful guide to take you from shopping sprees and broken New Year resolutions to mindfulness, self-care and festive cheer. Remember what the season is really all about – walks in the snow, time with family, thoughtful gift-giving and meaningful observations. Also see how to keep pets safe at Christmas.
Recycled Christmas Cards
These ‘Winter Wings’ Recycled Christmas Cards feature a beautiful bird design with ink illustration, printed onto matte recycled card, with a white envelope. All packaging is plastic-free. There are two designs available (one with wings outstretched) and you can buy as a single card or as a pack. Sent with your message handwritten inside.
- Buy recycled gift wrap, and avoid gifts with pet-toxic silica gel.
- Rent real Christmas trees instead of buying them, and discard faulty lights.
- Enjoy Christmas music from Putumayo or Past Perfect.
- Choose a plant-based celebration Christmas roast.
- Don’t take your children to see reindeers in shopping malls. Most are terrified by the bright lights and noise, and travel long distances (a bit like circus animals). Report events to Freedom for Animals.
- Choose a zero waste advent calendar.
- Make your own Christmas cake, avoid plastic cake decorations.
How to Keep Pets Safe at Christmas
Christmas presents lots of dangers (tree needles, discarded gift wrap, food, alcohol, chocolate). Keep fatty meats and leftover cooked bones out of harm’s way, but bin it (don’t give it to birds as it can affect waterproofing and insulation, even if leftover buttered sandwiches). Don’t pour fat down the sink. Other items to keep out of the way include dried fruit (mince pies, Christmas pudding, cake), alliums (onion, garlic, leek) and nuts (esp. macadamia nuts).
- Keep Christmas lights, plastic/glass decorations and tinsel (tempting to cats) away. Avoid chocolate gifts in trees. For real trees (you can rent them) choose non-drop needles to avoid stomach punctures. Avoid cocoa/pine/rubber mulch (and fresh compost) near pets.
- Many Christmas plants like holly, mistletoe, poinsettia and ivy are toxic to pets (as are many houseplants including lily and sago palm).
- Avoid snow globes, these contain antifreeze (lethal, even in tiny amounts). If you do use them, keep them safely out of reach.
- Don’t buy pets those ‘Christmas stockings’. Most are full of junk food that cause tum upsets. Just treat pets to a little extra food or normal treats, and take dogs on a nice safe winter walk instead.
- Avoid scented candles near pets (many creatures including cats, birds, ferrets & reptiles can’t break down essential oils). If used, choose unscented biodegradable candles, and avoid pot-pourri near pets.
Vegan Christmas Roast Dinners
Here are some nice turkey-friendly alternatives.
Don’t give leftovers to pets, as these recipes contain toxic ingredients (mushrooms, garlic, onion etc). For meat, don’t feed cooked bones to pets, and don’t give fatty leftovers to birds, it can harm feathers (insulation and waterproofing).
- Ultimate Christmas Tofurky Roast (Full of Plants) is one for the chefs. A festive roast filled with spinach, sauteed mushrooms and lentils, wrapped a tender tofu crust.
- Rudy’s Vegan Butcher has just launched a Christmas Dinner DIY Kit that includes a ‘seitan Turkey’ packed with soysage stuffing and all the sides. Based in Islington, the kit costs £55 for 4, but sold out in an hour when it launched. Seasonal only.
- Ultimate Vegan Christmas Roast Wellington (Avant Garde Vegan) is by talented Welsh chef Gaz Oakley. This is an ambitious wheat gluten roast flavoured with onion, leeks and peppers and spices, plus dried sage, rosemary and chestnuts, cider, miso paste and veggie stock.
- His Christmas Stuffed Squash is made with rice and balsamic vinegar, then topped with peppers, onions, mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes and spinach.
Switch to Reusable Crackers
Switch to reusable Christmas crackers, to cut down on plastic waste. Conventional brands are mostly sent from China, packed with plastic (the wrapping, party hats with foil and plastic toys). Each year, so many are discarded the week after Christmas, that some councils want them banned as it fills up their landfills. And as plastic does not biodegrade, the waste gives off methane gas. Most are made by wrapping fabric around a cardboard tube (and there’s no bang, so pets and babies are happy). Fill with your own zero waste gifts.
- Scandi reusable Crackers (above) are in natural linen or ivory cotton.
- Keep This Cracker contain ribbon yarn made from recycled plastic bottles. Sold flat-packed, just pop into shape, fill with gifts, then pop (they don’t tear) using the ecosnap® . To reuse, feed a fresh ‘snap’ in the slots at both ends. Printed locally with water inks and can be flat-packed, and the ribbons use yarns from used plastic bottles (keep away from pets and children).
- Annie Morris offers luxury handmade cotton Christmas crackers, tied with satin ribbons. The set includes 6 crackers, sent in Kraft boxes.
Celebrate an Ethical Easter
Jesus Christ for sure would not have approved of people celebrating his resurrection, with milk from factory farms. If you eat dairy, go for organic Easter eggs. Or better yet, try one of these, all made with plant milk.
Zero waste is tricky at present because chocolate (like coffee) has to be vacuum packed to avoid it going stale. But some biodegradable wrappers are made with eucalyptus fibre, and its mass use in Portugal and Brazil is causing forest wildfires (eucalyptus trees are very flammable) and koalas have also been hurt during harvesting of trees in Australia. Here are a few ideas, just recycle the packaging when done. Or even try making your own.
Keep chocolate away from pets, including white chocolate (it has too much fat). Use a letterbox guard for online orders.
Moo Free offers chocolate Easter eggs that taste like milk, but are made from rice milk. There are conventional Easter eggs, mini Easter eggs and an organic sour cherry chocolate Easter egg. The ‘surprise’ Easter egg replaces the usual plastic toy with a rice milk chocolate animal inside.
Booja Booja (Norfolk) offers luxury Easter eggs in beautiful packaging. The eggs are hand-painted in Kashmir (India) to support artisans in war zones. The small eggs have 3 truffles, the large eggs have 12 truffles. Choose from:
- Almond Salted Caramel
- Hazelnut Crunch
- Fine de Champagne
Cocoa Caravan Easter Eggs are made with coconut blossom nectar and have a soft caramel centre, made creamy with cashew nuts and coconut oil.
Make Your Own Easter Eggs
Vegan Chocolate Easter Egg Hazelnut Macaroons (Full of Plants) are crispy on the outside, chewy inside and contain a rich dark chocolate hazelnut centre.
Or do something a little different and try these savoury Easter egg recipes from The Vurger Co, using their amazing range of sauces.
These zero waste Advent calendars offer more eco-friendly alternatives to the normal ones that are often packed with plastic and contain plastic toys or chocolate made with factory-farmed milk and refined sugar. To be fair, the best way is to have a minimalist Christmas, but millions of people buy advent calendars, so choose zero waste plant-based ones. Keep chocolate and small toys away from pets and children.
Advent was traditionally used in the Christian faith, as a period of fasting. Derived from the Latin word for arrival ‘adventus’, advent calendars have been used for years by children to prepare for Christmas. But the original reason was to use the time to repent and pray, rather than just to grab a chocolate!
It begins on the Sunday 4 weeks before Christmas Day, although the date varies within different parts of the faith (for instance, in the Eastern Orthodox Church, Advent lasts 6 weeks and starts in November). It’s customary to pray on the third (Gaudete) Sunday.
If you get sick of stores playing Christmas music in October, your beliefs are in line with the Christian faith: Advent hymns like ‘O Come, Emmanuel’ are considered acceptable, but ‘proper hymns’ are only sung on Christmas Eve. Advent is taken so seriously by some churches, that many won’t conduct funerals on Sundays during Advent.
- Ginger Ray offers nice wooden advent calendars and kits to make your own kit. Perfect for any age, it has 24 white discs that you insert into the roof of the house, to fill the window for that day. The house gets more full, in order for Santa to come down the chimney!
- MixPixie is a cardboard advent calendar that has personalised music, just scan the Spotify code to listen to all 25 tracks. Choose from classics like The Pogues (Fairytale of New York), Chris Tea (Driving Home for Christmas) and Sinatra (Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas).
Festive Christmas Soda (Full of Plants)
These zero waste festive drinks prove that you don’t have to put up with toxic chemicals, animal ingredients or plastic packaging, to join the party. Whether you want boozy or teetotal, here are good ideas. Keep alcohol and mulling spices like nutmeg away from furry friends. See how to keep pets safe at Christmas.
- Steenbergs offers organic mulling spices, to turn a simple glass of red wine into a festive drink. Or try their loose-leaf organic Christmas tea.
- Wild Things Prosecco makes your glass of bubbly do good. Profits from this vegan sparkly wine go to help Born Free, the charity that helps rescue animals from zoos and circuses. It’s better than Babycham (fined through bones – Bambi deer on the bottle would not be happy). While you’re there, pick up some Baileys Almande.
- Make your own vegan snowball, a mix of cream soda, lime, brandy and vanilla custard.
- Forgo the big corporate brands this year, and go for Kitty’s Homemade Ginger Wine. This is made in Northumberland with fresh ginger, citrus and eastern spices, for a unique contemporary twist.
Hot cross buns are a very traditional Easter treat. But Jesus Christ would not approve of people celebrating his resurrection with factory-farmed and plastic-wrapped treats. Try these instead.
Keep hot cross buns away from pets as they contain toxic ingredients (dried fruits, spices like nutmeg/mace and sometimes chocolate). Also keep bread dough away from pets, as it can expand in the stomach.
Hot Cross Bun Gin
Hot Cross Bun Gin is only infused with natural flavours with fresh natural ingredients. This London dry gin is infused with fresh citrus fruits, sultanas, cinnamon and nutmeg. Not suitable for nut allergy sufferers. Use within 3 months of opening and store in a cool dry place. If fruity bits settle, tip the bottle before pouring. Good with ice and tonic.
Tonic waters contain quinine, so avoid serving them if pregnant or you have an abnormal heart rhythm, kidney or liver disease or low blood sugar.