Here’s how to make Santa’s treats a more eco-friendly part of their Christmas haul

Christmas is an exciting time for kids, but let’s be honest, much of their boundless enthusiasm stems from one thing… presents! There are presents from mum and dad, presents from friends, presents from family members and of course, presents from Santa. Waking up to a stash of presents at the foot of the bed is a major highlight of every child’s Christmas.

Unfortunately, all the plastic and packaging associated with gift-giving at Christmas takes a major toll on the environment. But if Santa himself makes the effort to be a bit more sustainable, you’ll be setting your kids up for good habits in the future. You could even ask him to leave a special note in their stockings, explaining why good children get gifts that are also good for the planet.

Related: Quick tips for a greener Christmas

  1. Go for a reusable stocking

First things first, the stocking itself. It’s no secret that the size of the average Christmas stocking has ballooned over the years and no longer resembles a stocking as much as a bin bag. Nonetheless, try to avoid buying gimmicky plastic sacks which are hard to recycle. Instead, go for a cloth sack that can be reused next year (and used eventually for storing household items). Or you could put Santa’s gifts in an existing storage container that’s been wrapped in festive cloth. If you are going to opt for a single-use stocking, though, make sure it’s made from paper or card so it can be recycled.

  1. Ditch the plastic tat

Shops are bursting with ‘stocking stuffers’ designed to be purchased and thrown in at the last minute, but much of the time these items are cheap, full of plastic and serve no real purpose. Avoid all the tat vying for your attention at checkouts and instead spend some time pursuing zero waste gift ideas online. From craft kits and soft toys to trendy accessories for the burgeoning pre-teen, there are plenty of options for all ages.

  1. Include items they’ll actually use

Be mindful when choosing stocking stuffers. Zero-waste and plastic-free goodies are of course a no-brainer, but if they’re likely to be banished to the back of a cupboard then it’s still a wasted item. Basics such as pretty notebooks and fancy shower gels might not be the most exciting gifts in the world, but they’re definitely going to be used. Besides, you don’t want Santa taking credit for the bigger gifts under the tree!

  1. Wrap stocking fillers in recyclable paper

Or better yet, don’t wrap Santa’s gifts at all, although this is probably only feasible if your child has the willpower to select one present at a time from the stocking with their eyes closed. Instead of traditional wrap, use hankies, cloth offcuts, newspapers and magazines – kids only really care about what’s underneath, after all. But if you do go for wrapping paper, choose a roll that’s made from recycled paper and can itself be recycled – a lot of wrapping paper is coated in plastic or contains adornments like glitter and foil, which means it’ll end up in landfill.

  1. Make sure sweet treats are Fairtrade

No stocking is complete without a chocolate Santa or a bag of gold coins! Make sure the ones you include bear the Fairtrade logo – this ensures producers in developing countries are paid a fair price for their work. These Fairtrade gold coins from Divine Chocolate and these milk chocolate Santa lollies from Cocoa Loco are both Fairtrade and palm oil free.

  1. Include experiences instead of stuff

For older children that can understand the promise of a future treat, why not include vouchers (official or homemade) for a fun activity after Christmas? It could be tickets to a pantomime, a trip to the zoo or bowling alley, or even something simple like a whole afternoon watching whatever they want on TV with their favourite snacks – as long as it’s a departure from the norm. Just be sure to include gifts they can actually unwrap, too.

  1. Use the stocking as an opportunity to introduce something new

Since stocking gifts technically come from Santa Claus, this is a good opportunity to get your kids engaged with something new without it seeming like mum and dad are nagging or being mean. Reusable straws, solid shampoo, a metal drinks bottle… these are things kids might turn their noses up at on a day-to-day basis, but if Santa has suggested it they might be more willing to give them a try.

The bottom line

We all want to make Christmas as magical as possible for our kids, but that doesn’t have to come at the expense of the environment. A more sustainable stocking from Santa can still be full of wonder and excitement without the plastic and waste, and it can help your kids learn more about the importance of protecting the planet in the process.

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