Celebrate Christmas Without the Waste: 5 Tips from Michelle McMahon
For this blog article, I reached out to Michelle McMahon who creates digital party invitations at Print Quirks Michelle is also all about sustainable and eco-friendly living so I thought she'd be the perfect person to share her tips for celebrating without the waste this Christmas.
Here's what she shared!
1. Firstly, I’d love to know more about you and what you do.
I’m Michelle – beach lover (it's my happy place), creative, digital designer, eco party Queen, mum of two neurodiverse boys, sometimes roller skater and yogi. I also love getting lost in a good book, have a huge crush on Regé-Jean Page (who doesn’t?) and do my best to live sustainably.
As a digital designer, I can work flexibly from home, which is great as I'm also home-schooling our eldest boy. I have two different online businesses: Print Quirks, where I offer eco party tips plus design and sell editable evites (digital invitations) and personalised Snapchat filters; and ArtifyTV where I design and sell artwork for display on Samsung Frame TVs.
2. With your background in sharing eco party tips, what's your number 1 tip for someone who is wanting to reduce their waste this Christmas?
No change is too small…. Bringing sustainable changes to your Christmas celebration on top of the existing stress and mountain of organisation can feel like the last straw.
I want to share with you that any change you can make, no matter how insignificant it may seem, does make a difference. Just imagine, millions of households worldwide celebrate Christmas, if each of those households made one small sustainable change to their gathering the overall impact would be massive.
So embrace any change you feel you can manage and even better, you can apply sustainability changes you use at Christmas to any party or celebration you host!
3. And what about the when it comes to the disposables (paper towels, plates, cups...?)
Disposable items are so prevalent in our modern throwaway society and while using “greener” options like those made from paper and bamboo products can seem like a great idea, the fact of the matter is, those products still need to be manufactured and will still add to landfill on some level even though they will biodegrade faster.
What can you do instead? For starters, use the existing crockery and cutlery in your house! You don’t need a paper plate or paper napkin with a Christmas motif printed on it to enjoy your celebration… Don’t have enough to serve all of your guests? You can: ask guests to kindly BYO their own reusable plate, cutlery and cup/glass; hire extra items; or, purchase a set of extra crockery and cutlery from your local op shop, then either keep it handy for other parties and celebrations or re-donate it back after Christmas.
4. Great! So let's talk decorations, how can we add a bit of Christmas joy to our house without buying tons of wasteful tinsel?
It is nice to deck out the tree and the house with some festive décor. Most of us already have a pretty good stash of Christmas decorations shoved in the cupboard or shed that we pull out each year. You can use some of those existing Christmas baubles and decorations to scatter over the table or alternately gather some greenery from the garden to use for table decorations, purchase fresh flowers instead. You could also head onto your local Buy Nothing page and ask to borrow a few extra items.
5. Food waste is huge over Christmas time! What are your tips for keeping food-waste to a minimum (or none at all)?
Ah yes. Christmas can indeed be a time of overindulgence (and not just the food) and before you know it, slimy Uncle Syd has offended your son’s fiancé with an inappropriate remark, Grandma is nodding off into her Christmas dinner after a few too many “wee” nips of sherry and your niece and nephew are looking green from all those choccies and lollies that you popped out to tide them over while the “proper food” was being prepared.
But seriously, think carefully about how many people you are catering for. Do you really need 2kg of prawns, a 5kg roast pork leg, two barbecued chickens and a 4kg dressed ham?!?! Are you serving mainly adults or will there be several children present too?
Whether you’re hosting Christmas lunch or dinner, check the number of attendees and cater accordingly. Go easy on offering nibblies and snacks if you’re planning to serve a big meal. For an adult serve, think roughly 400g – 500g of food overall (this includes meats, salads and sides) and less for children. Don’t forget there’s often dessert on offer after the big Christmas meal too!
To help with food spoilage, consider where you will be eating (inside or outside) and what the weather will be like on the day. You don’t want to serve a huge buffet selection of food outside on a 42-degree Christmas Day as it's likely any leftovers will spoil before they are packed away. If you are planning to eat out on the deck or under the patio, perhaps set out the food inside on the kitchen bench and pop it back in the fridge once everyone has come through and filled their plates.
If you do have leftovers, be sure to store them correctly in the fridge and you can even freeze things like leftover roast meat – simply pre-slice and freeze in appropriate portions for an easy lunch or dinner another day.
6. When it comes to Christmas, we all know how much kids LOVE to unwrap their presents. How can we avoid paper waste?
For sure, the best part of the day for kids is often finding out what’s under that wrapping! My Mum was a fantastic present wrapper, she always folded the edges over and tucked the corners so they sat nicely when folded over… Only for us kids to open all those lovingly wrapped presents in 10 seconds flat leaving a pile of crinkled paper in our wake.
One of my go-to solutions to reduce paper waste is to use fabric wrapping. You can either purchase a set of reusable fabric wrapping bags from a handmade seller or you can simply pick up some second-hand fabric from an op shop, pop onto YouTube to watch some fabric wrapping videos for inspiration and voilá! Presents wrapped in fabric still look amazing and you can keep and reuse either your set of wrapping bags or simple pieces of fabric year after year.
7. Lastly – where can people find you for more eco-party tips?
For more eco-party inspiration, you can find and follow me at the following online places:
Have a fantastic Christmas, be kind to yourself and I’d love to hear from you if you do have a go at one or more of these eco-party tips for your Christmas celebration!
If you'd like some ideas on low-waste Christmas gift ideas - check out this article: 9 Handmade and Sustainable Christmas Gift Ideas for the Family
And for more sustainable Christmas gift ideas check out: 10 Planet-Friendly Gift Ideas to Inspire