Not everything needs to be brand spanking new.

‘Tis the season to be eco-friendly. From decorations to the menu to seasonal gifts, here are some solutions for anyone and everyone who wants to make their end-of-year festivities a little more eco-friendly. What’s more, you could even save some hard-earned pennies in doing so.

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Consider secondhand gifts and zero-waste packaging

If your budget for gifts is tight this year, that’s all the more reason to think about giving a new lease of life to old or unwanted objects, whether it’s a reconditioned smartphone, restored toys or vintage clothing from a secondhand website. Plus, wherever possible, try to buy products that use minimal packaging, especially when shopping directly in stores. When shopping online, packaging materials (tissue paper, brown paper, etc) can be kept and reused for wrapping gifts.

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Gift wrapping as an art form

While we’re on the subject of wrapping gifts, why not try your hand at “furoshiki” — the traditional Japanese art that’s been gaining popularity elsewhere in recent years. It basically involves using old fabric off-cuts and scraps that you fold or tie to make stylish gift wrappings.

And if your home is full to the brim with things like shopping bags, shoe boxes and old newspapers, why not use those too? As well as being free, these alternatives will stop you having to buy rolls and rolls of gift paper, which may be pretty and shiny, but which is considerably less appealing from an environmental point of view.

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Greener festive meals 

From industrially farmed salmon to caviar made from sturgeon eggs (an endangered species), traditional festive foods tend to focus more on taste and indulgence than eco-friendliness.

The most eco-friendly option of all would be to cut out animal products entirely and replace them with plant-based foods — much to the disgust of some Christmas purists. A compromise would be to opt for free-range meat and responsibly fished seafood. If there are vegetarians and vegans on your guest list, why not try plant-based caviar, for example?

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Recyclable or edible decorations

Once the food and the gifts are sorted, it’s time to think about decorations. Forget plastic holly and tinsel, and turn instead to pine cones and branches scavenged in the woods. Foodies can even make edible decorations, such as chocolate Christmas trees for the table, edible tableware (yes, it’s a thing) or cookies to hang on the tree. As well as saving money, your guests are sure to complement your creativity.

This article is published via AFP Relaxnews.