Make Memories Not Waste

Packaging and wrapping paper, plastic toys, and decorations often aren't loved for as long as they last, and it all adds to the local waste stream. Here are some simple, low-waste ideas to create a holiday that's memorable in all the right ways!

Green gift ideas

Celebrate the season with less waste by giving experiences or gifts that are made to last.

  • Experiential gifts: Gift a membership or subscription to a service they enjoy, a gift card to a local restaurant, tickets to the museum or Butchart Gardens, or take them for a hike in one of our spectacular regional parks.
  • Homemade gifts: Because who doesn't love a homemade gift? Examples include preserves, cookies, a knitted toque, bath salts or a painting.
  • Gift your time or services: Offer to baby/pet-sit, take a few family photos or cook a meal for them.
  • Gifts that are made to last: Long-lived items such as heirlooms, quality camping gear or cookware.
  • Low-waste gifts: Assist them in reducing waste with gifts like reusable to-go cutlery or containers, beeswax wraps or cloth napkins.
  • Second-hand gifts: Peruse online classified ads and local thrift or vintage stores for gifts.

Green wrapping ideas

There are many ways to hide what’s inside without the traditional giftwrap/tape/bow combo.

  • Use materials you already have at home: Newspaper (especially the comics section), paper bags, old calendar pages or maps.
  • Reuse old gift wrap/gift bags: Instead of recycling old wrapping paper and gift bags, hang on to them and reuse them the next season.
  • Wrap your gift with another gift: A sweater can double as a gift and be used as an alternative to wrapping paper. Or if you're wrapping a kitchen or food-themed gift, use a pretty tea towel.

Green decorating ideas

No matter your interior décor, holiday decorations can add a festive touch to your home. 

  • Buy long-term decorations: If you need to buy new decorations, buy reusable ones that last for years and keep unnecessary waste out of the landfill.
  • Borrow from nature: Many decorations can be found by looking no further than your back yard. Pinecones, branches, leaves, and twigs can all be used as decorations. Try using the greenery in nature to make your wreath or centerpiece this year. It’s easy, waste free, and smells good too!
  • DIY Garland: Use recycled giftwrap or dried orange slices to create a beautiful garland.
  • Turn old toys into ornaments: Transform old toys into nostalgic Christmas tree decorations. Ask your family to help pick out which toys to use.
  • Be kind to your Christmas decorations: Store decorations carefully and you'll be able to use them year on year – meaning less waste going to landfill and reducing your need to buy new stuff. You can use shredded wrapping paper or packaging from new toys or gadgets to protect delicate items. 


Check out Metro Vancouver's website for more on how to celebrate with less waste this season.

  • Merry Memory Maker - gift ideas by price range
  • Wrap wise - simple, eco-friendly ways to cut down on wrapping waste
  • Decorating - ideas for reusing items and borrowing from nature
  • Food - shopping and prep to entertaining with less waste
  • After Christmas - once holidays are over, reduce, reuse, recycle

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