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How to save money and the environment this Christmas.

How do we make Christmas special without a hefty price tag and a heavy impact on the environment?

Everyone deserves to be cheered up over the festive period after what has been a rotten year. But with our pockets and our planet under strain, how do we make Christmas special without a hefty price tag and a heavy impact on the environment?

The great news is lots of money-saving ideas are also better for the environment, like buying pre-loved gifts or making your own presents.

Environmental charity Hubbub asked 3,000 UK adults about their plans this Christmas and found that 45 per cent of people across the UK want to make Christmas EXTRA special this year.

However, one in five said their family is cutting back on presents, one in three are planning on spending less on presents and one in 10 are worried about how they are going to afford Christmas.

Is this the year of the second-hand gift? It appears 16 to 24 year-olds are setting a new trend for pre-loved gifts with over a third (34 per cent) saying they will buy some second-hand presents for the first time this Christmas.

Although 44 per cent of all adults said they’d be embarrassed to give second-hand presents at Christmas, 41 per cent said they’d be happy to receive one (even higher at 51 per cent for 16 to 24 year olds).

Giving time or a service as a gift instead of a physical present is also a great way to save money and one that nearly a quarter (23 per cent) said they’d be happy to receive.

Having a meal cooked for you topped the charts, followed by a haircut and then cleaning. For those with children under 18, almost one in four opted for an offer of babysitting/child-free time.

We’re all thinking about cutting the costs to our bank balances and the environment. So here are ten ways to save money and the environment this Christmas:

Eat your leftovers!
The UK throws away a whopping 270,000 tonnes of food during Christmas, including more than two million turkeys and 74 million mince pies . Make the most of your food this festive season by planning what you need in advance and making sure you save your leftovers. They’ll keep in the freezer or you can munch on them in the potato-filled limbo between Christmas and New Years Eve.

Buy second hand
With so many second-hand marketplaces online like Ebay, Depop or even Facebook there is a huge amount of choice in quality second-hand gifts. Shopping second hand can get you one-of-a-kind pressies at a fraction of what you’d spend in a last minute shopping spree.

Make your own gifts
During lockdown so many of us have turned our hands to making, cooking or growing. In the summer you couldn’t move for sourdough starters and first-time tomato growers and there’s no need to stop here.

Giving homemade gifts is a beautiful way to show someone you care and show off your new skills at the same time.

DIY decorations
You can never go wrong with the trusty box stuffed in the attic or under your bed with festive decorations of Christmases gone by. That’s using your leftovers!

But if you want to try something a little different this year, dried orange slices and cinnamon tied together on a string make for unbeatable decorations that smell great and come without any plastic or waste.

Shop for the person you’re buying for
This is a golden gift giving rule. To make sure your present is well-used and well-loved, try to find something you know the person will really like. And if you’re not sure, ask them to point you in the right direction.

Love local
If you do want to buy something new, why not see if you can support local and independent businesses who need our help more than ever this year.

From books to jewellery you’ll be surprised what you can find locally. If you can’t get out to the shops try going to Etsy and filtering search results for “handmade in the UK”.


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Be savvy with online orders
With people less likely to hit the shops this year, we’re likely to do more of our shopping online for food and presents.

So try consolidating your orders: keep a list of things you need to buy and purchase in one go. Choose click and collect options where possible to reduce air pollution from the amount of time delivery vehicles spend on the road. Make sure you recycle or repurpose packaging when you can to reduce waste.

Ditch the wrapping
Paper wrapping can be difficult to recycle, especially if it’s glittery or shiny. A great alternative is brown paper which you can jazz up with potato prints and string or give fabric wrapping a go.

Furoshiki is the Japanese art of fabric wrapping which inspired companies like The Fabric Wrapping Company who sell beautiful fabrics and show you how you can wrap them. You can also use scrap fabrics and scarves if you have some at home!

Give back to your community
If this year has shown us anything it’s how important our community and the people who keep it going are. Give back this year by donating to your local community fridge, donating your old phone to help people who are digitally isolated at part of Hubbub’s Community Calling Campaign or supporting a local charity.

Rediscover your own wardrobe
Give your favourite outfits a replay this year and wear your favourite festive outfits again instead of buying something new. If nothing in your wardrobe is singing to you try swapping with friends or family for a brand-new look without spending anything. Look on rental platforms or second-hand sites if you need inspiration from further afield.

For more top tips this season on everything from food to fashion, head to over the Hubbub website…

The above article by Sarah Divall first published on in Dec, 2020.

Sarah Divall is a creative partner at Hubbub and a sustainability podcaster and presenter.