The holidays are a time for showing appreciation for family and getting together with one another. Unfortunately they’re also a time for buying more than usual, mailing more packages than any other time and generating more waste than the rest of the year. While it’s good to show your appreciation for loved ones, the holidays don’t have to be a time of year that hurts the environment. With just a few simple changes you can reduce your impact on the environment and make the holidays into a green time that’s actually beneficial to the environment. Here’s a breakdown of green holiday tips offered by members of Grades of Green

Get Creative

It’s easy to buy gifts for someone, but it shows real thought to put something together yourself and hand-craft gifts for other people instead of heading to the store or ordering something over the Internet. You can put together cookie, cake or brownie batter mixes, create a handmade craft, sew something for a loved one or put whatever hobbies you have to use creating something special for the people on your list. Homemade gifts will save you money and they’ll reduce the amount of packaging and waste produced around the holidays.

You don’t just have to stop with gifts though, you can create your own homemade gift cards as well, or better yet reuse the cards that you received in the past. While it might seem like a cheap idea to someone to reuse a card, it’s an important step to help reduce the number of Christmas cards purchased every year. Each year close to 3 billion Christmas cards are bought from stores, a number large enough to fill up a 10 story football field, that’s a number that could stand to go down. If you don’t want to reuse cards you can rely on e-cards instead to reduce your total paper card use.

Rent a Christmas Tree

Instead of going out to a tree farm and chopping down a living tree to use for a few weeks up until Christmas, consider renting a Christmas tree instead. There are rental programs that allow you to bring home a Christmas tree in a pot of soil and keep it at your home throughout the holiday season. Once the holidays are over you bring the tree back to where it came from and it will continue out its life without having to be chopped down. This service greatly reduces the number of trees that are cut down each year and can help with deforestation issues while ultimately increasing the number of pine trees around the country.

Decorate Your Tree Using Homemade Ornaments

You don’t have to spend much money to decorate your Christmas tree, and you don’t have to generate much waste either. You can create ornaments from recyclables with excellent results, or you can make them from items that you have around your home already. Look around at DIY websites for ornament ideas and you’ll be more excited to put together some custom decorations for the tree than you will to go out and buy them from the store.

Donate to Charity as a Gift

Instead of buying or making gifts for the loved ones in your life, you can also donate to a charity of your choice, such as Grades of Green, in the name of one of your friends or family members. This is a gift that will make them feel good, and it’s something that will have a positive impact on the world.

Set a New Years Resolution to Go Eco-Friendly

While making changes between November and December is an excellent way to reduce your impact on the Earth, you can improve even more by making a New Year’s resolution to live a greener life in 2016. Whether you decide to bike to school or work, to pack your lunch in reusable containers throughout the year, or to stop buying bottled water and store water in reusable water bottles instead, all of these actions would really make a difference. Take the new year as an opportunity to start fresh and help you begin living a greener lifestyle.