Skip the Christmas gifts this year, let’s cleanup the ocean

Just admit it, the whole idea of going into town or online looking for Christmas gifts again this year is not filling you with much joy. Or is it? Why do we do it? Why not just spend time with our loved ones, eat food and create memories? We all have so much stuff already and we really don’t need any more gifts. Certainly not anything made of plastic. If you need a gift, buy everyone books instead. Or handmade soap. Silver earrings, beeswax candles, wooden toys, tickets to the theatre. Buy art. Buy vintage. And wrap your gifts in paper.

No plastic this year, please.

Imagine how powerful it would be if we all stopped buying plastic? What a Christmas gift to nature that would be.

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This year has been a year where a lot of awareness has been raised about the plastic problem. Finally, the whole plastic problem seems to become mainstream and generally seen as something very urgent by most people. This is a positive movement, because the more people feel something needs to be done about it, the more likely governments and big corporates will follow and actually change laws which would make a real impact. Only recently the EU parliament banned single use plastic from 2021. In the meantime, there are some pretty amazing people already working day and night to combat the plastic problem.

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“Someone’s got to do it”. A young inventor starts the Ocean Cleanup

You may have heard of this guy, Boyan Slat, a young Dutch engineer who at the tender age of 18 invented something that could clean up the oceans. Although this was initially a project as part of his degree, six years later the idea is now a non-profit organisation called The Ocean Cleanup with over 80 people, developing advanced technologies to rid the world’s oceans of plastic. By utilising the ocean currents to their advantage, their passive drifting systems are estimated to clean up half the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in 5 years’ time. The very first prototype has just gone out for testing in October 2018. Exciting times! And doesn’t it restore faith in human beings to do incredible things, if they want to – and care enough? Being Dutch myself, I am feeling very proud of Boyan and his incredible drive to make a difference.

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Micro plastics in your food

The test phase has now begun, mainly collecting all the larger pieces of plastic in the water, some smaller as well. The micro plastics are of course much harder to catch. Micro plastics are the bits that fall off the larger pieces after being in the water for a long time, the flakes, crumbs, the tiny pieces of plastic. These micro plastics are the worst, as they are eaten by fish – and subsequently eaten by us. Research has shown that micro plastics are now even discovered in many other foods and even beers, simply because disintegrated plastic becomes so small that is enters our water system. Imagine what that does to our health… It is therefore vital that we stop plastic from going into the rivers and oceans in the first place, and catch it before it starts to disintegrate into micro plastics.

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I would love to see The Ocean Cleanup become so successful that it becomes the start of a real change and cleanup of all the oceans. To see this inspirational young inventor Boyan Slat and his team come up with even bigger and better ideas to help us combat the ridiculous amount of plastic that we as humans have put into the environment. Of course, this project and the ones needed to cleanup all the other plastic floating around in the seas costs a LOT of money. I for one will swap my Christmas gift list this year for a donation to this cause.

Raise funds

If you feel encouraged too and excited about this like I do, perhaps consider thinking outside the (gift) box and ask Santa for charity donations this year. Surely clean water without plastic is worth more than yet another posh fragrance on your dressing table. The turtles will thank you for it.

Read more about The Ocean Cleanup

Donate to The Ocean Cleanup

Set up your own Fundraising Facebook Page

Get a minimalist Scandinavian Christmas decor with no fuss

Almost the end of November. A month until Christmas. Who’s got the decorations out yet? Who loves a bit of minimalist Scandinavian Christmas in their house this year? Now here’s a thought. We can either find our toddlers shattering the pretty sparkly baubles on the floor, the dog eating the tinsel and discover those pesky fairy lights all still tangled up in a bag from last year – and there’s always at least five lights not working – or we leave the box up in the attic and keep it simple. Just a nice tree, a couple of branches, a wreath maybe. More eco-friendly too, especially if you were secretly considering getting a plastic tree this year (you weren’t, were you?). Boring you say? Well, let me show you a few ideas on how to create a beautiful Scandinavian Christmas decor in your home this year. You may like them.


Keep things white (and green)

Leave the gold and red baubles up in the attic this year, and go monochrome. A true Scandinavian Christmas decor has plenty of whites, natural wood and wicker, greenery and simple fairy lights. Group some lanterns together on a table, at the fire place or in the window. Use white or grey sheepskins as throws and rugs for texture and warmth.

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Use clear bottles as Christmas decor

Who knew it looks so pretty to drown a little branch in a bottle of water? Gather empty clear bottles in various sizes and use them around the house as decoration. Also nice on your Christmas dinner table with candles.

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thatscandinavianfeeling.com

 


Create your own Gift wrap with brown paper

Don’t forget the gift wrap in your minimalist Scandinavian Christmas adventures! Cheap rolls of brown paper, string, simple tags and some leaves will make very beautiful, stylish parcels you’ll sure impress the guests with.

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image: thesefourwallsblog.com

Use Eucalyptus as Christmas decoration

Eucalyptus makes for great decorative branches at any time of year, so Christmas is no exception.

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Wooden sign from Etsy

Twigs and branches in oversized vases as christmas decor

It’s all about keeping things simple. Find a large big vase or bottle and fill it with a few nice branches of a pine tree or something with red berries on it.

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annixen.blogspot.se

The green wreath

A nice green wreath on the door or indoors is always a winner. Make one yourself or buy one ready made. Remember, less is more to get that Scandinavian Christmas look.

 

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Farmhouse Wreath on Etsy

 


A naked Christmas tree

What, a tree but no baubles? Yup. And a good looking tree doesn’t need any really, or very few. Just a nice big pot or basket and maybe some fairy lights.

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Saved from thatscandinavianfeeling.com

Your Etsy Christmas Gift Guide for gorgeous original gifts

It’s the season to feel festive and drink mulled wine. You snuggle up under a blanket, have the fire on and spend time with family. Then it’s also the season to be bombarded with high street consumerism. In addition to that you get stuck in traffic because everyone is queuing up to get to the malls for their Christmas shopping. How about trying something different this year? Here is your Etsy Christmas Gift Guide for gorgeous original gifts.

Shop consciously

My family are Dutch and we mainly spend our time eating and drinking at Christmas. Presents are not a big thing (in fact, I was told this year to ab-so-lu-te-ly NOT buy anything for anyone! Can you believe it?). Of course most of you readers will probably want to wrap at least a little thoughtful something for your loved ones on Christmas day. I have therefore put a conscious gift guide together, to support the independent makers rather than the big corporates.

Your Etsy Christmas Gift Guide

I would always promote buying or receiving gifts that are useful, beautiful or well made. Etsy has been my go-to site for this kind of thing for years now. I love the fact that by shopping on Etsy you support small businesses and artists, in your own town (check out if your city has a local Etsy market!) or internationally. By buying from them, you make a a hard working designer-maker extremely happy!

Handwritten thank you cards

I love the added bonus that Etsy items often come lovingly wrapped with a handwritten thank you note included. It is also a great place to find items that feel good to give, i.e. not made from plastic, which is what we should all aim for in the end really (and it gives me hope that there is obviously a growing demand for this sort of thing!). I hope you like my picks in my Etsy Christmas Gift Guide. What are you giving your loved ones this Christmas? (Or are you going Dutch this year?)


gifts For the book worm

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These lovely wooden bookmarks are made by IngrainedInc., who I found at a local craft fair in Aberdeenshire recently (I stocked up on a few things by her, including key rings – just so nice!). This bookmark is £8.50

gifts For the one wearing a shirt

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Personalise a set of cufflinks made of brass and glass….with a details of a vintage map. Perhaps the place where you first met? Got married? Birthplace? Possibilities are endless. Recycled map of choice and date engraved. Love this. From £22.95

gifts For the design conscious

Your Etsy Christmas Gift Guide for gorgeous original gifts
Set of 3 geometric art prints, great for the home or the office. Different sizes available, from £22.10
Your Etsy Christmas Gift Guide for gorgeous original gifts
It is hard to pick jewellery on Etsy, there really are so many gorgeous items! I like these contemporary silver earrings by MinimalGeometric. £30.00

gifts For the vegan (or anyone else who loves a good bag)

Your Etsy Christmas Gift Guide for vegan gifts
Cork and Harris Tweed shoulder bag. Great if you have a vegan in the family or just a good looking alternative to leather. Also comes without the wool bit. By MyCottonHouse £105.00

gifts For Mr Hipster

Your Etsy Christmas Gift Guide for gorgeous original gifts
A chunky ring for the outdoor man. By MyliuDesign. £40.00
Your Etsy Christmas Gift Guide for gorgeous original gifts
A nice grooming set for the beardy man in your life. OriginalMonkey £20.00

gifts For the exhausted mum

Your Etsy Christmas Gift Guide for gorgeous original gifts
The gift for your exhausted new mummy friend. £13.39
Your Etsy Christmas Gift Guide for gorgeous original gifts
Grey and mustard….yep, my favourite combo. Great unisex hat by TheDorothyDays. £12

gifts For the vintage collector

Your Etsy Christmas Gift Guide for vintage gifts
For the vintage collector…some fabulous West German pottery (I know I would LOVE a gift like that). AnythingGoesCeramics £45.00

For the vintage collector…some fabulous West German pottery (I know I would LOVE a gift like that). AnythingGoesCeramics £45.00


gifts For the creative

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Frame loom weaving kit by local Aberdeenshire maker LePetitMoose, fab to learn how to make pretty boho wall hangings. £22.00

What to buy the kids this Christmas. Top five guilt-free, no plastic, eco friendly gifts

Every year it’s the same issue. What to buy the kids this Christmas? This blog post gives you some ideas for guilt-free, eco-friendly gifts for children.

Eco friendly Christmas gifts for children

Go plastic-free

We all love Christmas and we all love to give each other something nice. Most of us love a bit of festive shopping, especially when the towns and shops are so beautifully decorated. Children get all excited about Christmas long before autumn and hand you a list of stuff they want from Santa. Now I have two boys who love all sorts of plastic rubbish, including transformer toys, anything with wheels on and of course, Lego. Lego I have a love-hate relationship with, as it kind of keeps its value and gets passed on most of the time once they grow out of it. It will still end up on landfill at some point.

We can’t really get away from the Christmas shopping and we don’t want to see sad little faces because there’s no boxes to open. Therefore I thought I’d give you some ideas for your shopping list as alternatives to the usual gifts. It’s hard getting away from plastic completely, but we can at least try.

To get us started, I put this handy list together:

eco-friendly christmas gifts: seven top tips

Did that get you thinking? There are so many things you could give instead of more ‘stuff’, to both children and adults. Below I have listed my Top Five of guilt-free, non-plastic eco-friendly Christmas gifts.

1. eco-friendly christmas gifts: Framed posters and prints

Posters! Made of paper! Amazing! Get your kid a poster for their bedroom of their favourite superhero, movie star or cartoon this year without any guilt. A world map is also a great idea if you prefer something more educational. GB Posters is a useful site to find a good selection of different posters plus they offer very affordable frames in all sizes.

eco-friendly christmas gifts: art prints and posters

 


2. eco-friendly christmas gifts: Wooden toys

Wooden toys are great for little hands that break stuff constantly. We have several wooden trucks and other toys in our house and I must say, they are all still in one piece – unlike many of the plastic equivalents. They are worth investing in and they make great hand-me-down gifts too in the future. These cute personalised trucks can be found on Etsy.

eco-friendly christmas gifts: wooden toys

Or how about this adorable wooden toy food set? Also found on Etsy.

eco-friendly christmas gifts: wooden toys


3. A personalised book – great for the older child

I often make personalised photo albums or calendars for family members and made an ABC book (in Dutch) to help my eldest son start reading, featuring lots of family photos. Everyone loves being loved and a thoughtful gift is worth more than all the plastic rubbish in the world. I stumbled across The Book of Everyone, maybe you have heard of them, which helps you create a beautiful personalised book for a loved one. I especially like the idea of making one for pre-teens/teenagers, which the site says will be “packed full of smile-inducing wise(ish) words personalised by you. Because your words might just help them make better mistakes”.

eco-friendly christmas gifts: personalised book


4. eco-friendly christmas gifts: Stuff to draw on

I found this amazingly beautiful online store Smallable, with gorgeous high quality toys, clothes and other stuff for kids and the home. Worth a browse. Anyway, I selected these draw-on placemats, which I think are an excellent idea for those kids who are bored waiting for their dinner or just want something to colour in. Oh, and they are of course made of paper…can go straight in the recycle bin once finished (unless your children are true Picassos, then you might want to frame them of course).

eco-friendly christmas gifts: colouring in placemats

For more eco friendly toys on the Smallable website, have a look here: Eco Friendly Toys

eco-friendly christmas gifts: cardboard kitchen


5. eco-friendly christmas gifts: Sew a costume!

I know, I know, time is not always on our hands to get these amazing Pinterest projects realised. We’re not all talented or crafty enough to make stuff look beautiful. But if your child loves dressing up, a beautiful handmade dinosaur tail must be right up there in the Top 3 of awesome eco-friendly Christmas gifts! Go on, get that sewing machine out 😉 Plenty of tutorials on Pinterest. If you are really not the DIY person but still love the idea of a handmade costume, go and support someone who hand makes and sells them on Etsy. That way you make another person happy.

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Bonus tip: Life skills!

Swimming lessons, judo, music tuition, a membership to the climbing wall or local gym, it’s all rather pricey when you add it up. Do they want do do or join something really badly? Why not give your children their membership or lessons at Christmas? Other than that it’s a great ‘experience’ gift, rather than more ‘stuff’, it also shows kids that these things are things to value and are not an automatic given throughout the year as part of the daily routines.

eco-friendly christmas gifts: life skills

I hope this was helpful, I wish you all a jolly good, guilt-free Christmas! Do you have any other ideas for eco-friendly Christmas gifts that are not listed? Feel free to share them for others to see in the comments below  🙂 Thanks! X

Easy craft projects with pom poms for Christmas

It always takes me a little while to get into the Christmas spirit, and I still have one leg in summer really, but hey, if you want that garland finished by December, you got to get your act in gear. Today’s post features some fabulous easy craft projects with pom poms for Christmas! Yes, pom poms, those fluffy colourful woolen balls that you probably made as a child. A fun alternative to your usual decorations. They are super versatile and you can use them as tree baubles (the kids would love them!), on wreaths and even as gift toppers. If you have children, get them involved as it makes a great rainy Sunday afternoon craft project too.

Easy craft projects with pom poms for Christmas
A super colourful tree by Paint the Gown RedPaint the Gown Red


First things first, let’s learn how to make a pom pom – in case you have forgotten. You can use cardboard, a fork or even your fingers, so I am sharing these tutorials with you today.


How to make pom poms

Get some wool! You may have some leftovers in the cupboard, but if not, try Create and Craft, who often have great offers on all kids of craft supplies.

This is the way I learnt it as a kid. The bigger the cardboard circles you cut out, the bigger the pom pom.

Easy craft projects with pom poms for Christmas


Make pom poms using a fork

This is a genius way of making pom poms. No need to cut out cardboard, just use a fork! Watch the video to see how it’s done.


Make a pom pom tree garland

A nice alternative to your plasticky glitter garlands; one made out of wool. This one used paper straws to separate the pom poms, but you can of course just tie the pom poms on a pretty ribbon or a string too.

Easy craft projects with pom poms for Christmas
Image and turorial on Elsie Marley


Make a pom pom tassel

This could either be a tree decoration or something to hang on a wardrobe key or a door knob. Or even your hand bag. Very pretty and so easy to make.

Easy craft projects with pom poms for Christmas
Pom pom tassel via True Blue Me and You


Gift toppers with pom poms

Looking to jazz up your wrapping paper? Pom Poms make everything look Pinterest-worthy. Go and make some small ones just for this purpose. They will make any Christmas gift stand out.

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Image via Lia Griffith


pom pom Wreaths

Christmas isn’t Christmas without a beautiful homemade wreath. Here are three very different style pom pom wreaths, so take your pick! I love them all.

Make a Giant Hula Hoop Pom Pom Wreath

This is a gorgeous one. I love the purples and browns on it and the simple wooden hoop with some green as a base layer.

Easy craft projects with pom poms for Christmas
Image via Couture CraftCouture Craft


Make a colourful wreath with baubles, bells and pom poms

What a gorgeous mix of shiny baubles and colourful woolen pom poms. This would brighten up any door at Christmas. Just tie them individually to a styro-foam or wire wreath with string. And don’t be afraid to overdo it, the more things the merrier!

Easy craft projects with pom poms for Christmas
Image via Molly Makes


Make a snowball wreath with pom poms

I love this one. Just using white or off-white wool, making lots of fluffy pom poms and securing them onto a wreath for a wintery effect. Nice. It makes you want to stroke it, so soft.

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Image via Etsy
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