Written in partnership with The Nature Conservancy. As you decorate, attend parties, and manage the multiple online deliveries to the doorstep, think about the little things you can do to help mitigate the unenvironmentally friendly aspects of the holidays. For us, it’s easy to start with natural Christmas decorations.

Do you need inspiration? The Nature Conservancy put together a helpful Holiday Green Guide with easy ideas to implement over the next few weeks that you can download. 

One tip from the guide that resonates with us is “keep it real.” The phrase “keep it real” can apply to quite a bit during the holiday season. (It’s likely been uttered at a few dinner tables here and there.)

What The Nature Conservancy means is utilizing nature in your holiday décor. We are huge fans of this.

The Real Christmas Tree

The Nature Conservancy advocates for real Christmas trees over plastic trees as a greener choice with benefits that extend far beyond the holidays. 

Let me say that nothing beats the smell of a real Christmas tree. I’ll whoosh past my tree in a hurry to do “insert whatever it is here,” but my brain can’t help but pause to take in the fresh pine needle scent. It’s relaxing. Choosing the tree from our local lot is also a tradition that I enjoy.

Real Christmas tree benefits

Real trees absorb carbon dioxide, something we need in today’s industrial world, to help clean the air and water around us. They provide habitats for wildlife and help control erosion. When you buy a real Christmas tree, you’re likely supporting a family-owned business.

Christmas tree farms keep over a hundred thousand people employed in our country as well as the forests covered in trees. For every harvested Christmas tree there are ten times the amount in reserve. (Contrast this with a nonrecyclable artificial tree made with PVC and shipped to the U.S. from China.)

Real Christmas trees can be mulch-chipped for parks, gardens, and homes which means their benefits extend well past the holiday season. They are the ultimate natural Christmas decoration. Our local nursery picks up our tree at the end of the holiday season and sends it off for recycling. Your city’s environmental services department may pick up trees for recycling so definitely check that, too. Then you can keep it fresh and green with easy DIY Christmas tree preservatives.

Nature in Your Decor and Gift Wrap

Succulent gift wrap topper

Keep it real also means using nature in your decorations. Save the tree trimmings to cover the fireplace mantle. Even when cut, ours typically last through the season. Use the trimmings in flower arrangements and to add a little flourish to gift wrap.

Use What’s in the Yard

Keep it real this holiday season by using what you have to decorate.

A big part of an eco-friendly Christmas is using and reusing what you already have. For this, I keep it real by turning to my yard. Succulents are another gift that keeps on giving. Cut and tie them to presents (the recipient can replant them) and put them in flower arrangements. When the life of the arrangement has passed, put the succulent back in the ground.

Using your yard to decorate reduces the need to buy decorations. Plants that I’d recommend keeping in the garden to help achieve this goal include rosette succulents, rosemary, sage, and lavender.

Learn More Ways to Have an Eco-Friendly Holiday Season

Download the Holiday Green Guide by entering your name and email to find out the best way to be a little greener this holiday season.

Katie Dillon is the managing editor of La Jolla Mom. She helps readers plan San Diego vacations through her hotel expertise (that stems from living in a Four Seasons hotel) and local connections. Readers have access to exclusive discounts on theme park tickets (like Disneyland and San Diego Zoo) and perks at luxury hotels worldwide through her. She also shares insider tips for visiting major cities worldwide, like Hong Kong, London, Paris, and Shanghai, that her family has either lived in or visits regularly (or both).

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