Healthy, Green Design: 10 Eco-Friendly Decorating and Gift Ideas for the Holidays

Reader Contribution by Stephanie Nickolson
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Stephanie Nickolson has designed residential, commercial and eco-conscious environments for more than 24 years. Her firm, Stephanie Nickolson Design, promotes the use of sustainable, non-toxic, recyclable and environmentally-friendly products and services. The firm works largely with clients who have allergies, chemical sensitivies or who have children with special needs.  

1. Paint an accent wall in the spirit of the holidays.

Change it up by painting a wall that gets attention an exciting color. I wanted to emphasize the green tones in my artwork so I painted just this wall Sherwin Williams’ Bamboo Shoot (SW7733) from the no-VOC Harmony paint collection.

Sherwin Williams’ Bamboo Shoot paint color brings out the green tones in my artwork. Photo By Stephanie Nickolson.

Sherwin Williams has some amazing new apps and features. If you go to the company’s website  you can actually see what a hue will look like on your wall(s) by using their Color Visualizer feature. You just upload a photo of your space and select a color, and the Color Visualizer will paint it for you online. For iPhone and Blackberry users, you can view all of their color options by utilize Sherwin Williams’ ColorSnap app.

Another color choice that I really like is Sherwin Williams’ Cherries Jubilee (SW6862). It’s festive and compliments so many different styles and decors.

2. Hang an herbal or floral wreath.

I love Organic Bouquet. The wreath shown here is called the Six Herb Wreath ($74.95). Organic Bouqet has some really unique wreaths, including a peace sign made of pine needles.

Organic Bouquet’s Six Herb Wreath features Greek and Mexican oregano, lavender, wild roses, lamb’s ear and sweet annie. It costs $74.95. Photo Courtesy Organic Bouquet.

3. Surround your Christmas tree with a natural skirt.

This Christmas tree skirt shown here is from Amenity. It’s made of 55 percent hemp and 45 percent organic cotton. The company uses non-toxic vegetable dyes to embellish it with a design.

Amenity’s Trail Tree Skirt is made from hemp and organic cotton. Photo Courtesy Amenity.

4. Re-gifting is acceptable.

Said it. Done. Why accumulate dust on items that you don’t use and are just left on a shelf? The next best option after re-gifting is to give a gift that was thoughtfully chosen at an antique or flea market. Where I live, there is one every second weekend of each month all year round. It’s a wonderful place to shop or just gather ideas for decorating.

5. Shred used wrapping paper, kraft paper (used to mail packages) or any other paper to use as bag or box filling.

You can substitute tissue paper with this and then recycle it when your recipients have opened their gifts. (Or use it again).

6. Wrap gifts using kraft paper, burlap or other natural fabric and tie it with metallic or other pretty ribbons.

Photo By Stephanie Nickolson.

Here I’ve used kraft paper and tied it with metallic gold tulle and ribbon and inserted a small decorative leaf and berry sprig. I like to use double-stick tape so it doesn’t take away from the decorative wrap.

7. Create an ambrosial delight. (I love that word.)

You can boil cinnamon sticks, apples and add a touch of clove to this blend and it really stimulates your senses for a festive aroma. Do this before guests arrive (or any other time, really).

8. Give gift baskets with a theme.

Instead of gift wrap, group themed items together in a basket that can be used again (or re-gifted). Tie them together with raffia or rope. Some ideas include: cooking, gardening, sports-themed items, spa or health products, or give the gift of non-toxic cleaning products.  Cleaning products may not seem too personal but the person receiving it will appreciate it. Be sure to research and include directions for the measurements needed if the products are concentrated.

9. Fresh, fresh flowers everywhere.

Strategically place them throughout your home. Fill tall vases with full flowers, small buds in bud vases, spread across your fireplace mantle interspersed with garland. When the bigger bouquets start to look withered, cut only the good ones and place in smaller vases. You can place the bud vases in a powder room, bedrooms or a front hallway in clusters.

10. Gift ideas for teachers, mail carriers, etc.

Give herbs or flowers in an eco-wrapping.  I’ve given rosemary plants in the shape of a circle, amaryllis flowers or tulip bulbs. They are inexpensive and people really seem to appreciate them.

~ Most importantly: relax and enjoy the season!

Editor’s Note: Natural Home does not recommend, approve or endorse the products/services offered by companies guest bloggers review online. You should use your own judgment and evaluate products and services carefully before deciding to purchase.