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Last Friday a small group of ladies met at Green Skills Albany to eat, play, create and talk Christmas.

The holiday season in Australia is also peak season for spending, food waste, suicide and stress. Attendees went home with lots of ideas to reduce waste and stress, and increase fun and resilience. Here are four ideas to stay out of debt and buy less stuff this year:

Tip one: beautiful gift wrapping with fabric instead of paper means you don’t need tape or string, and you can either reuse the fabric year after year or include it as part of the present. Try searching on YouTube if you don’t understand the how-to diagrams! You won’t need ribbons either, because these wraps are so pretty. Find scarves and other fabric squares at your local op shop (or the back of your cupboard!). If you need a gift tag, a simple gum leaf with recipient’s name in texta looks great.

Tip two: simple recipes using homegrown, local or plastic-free food (and then cooking the leftovers and composting the scraps) will reduce your environmental impact and your stress levels. Pictured is a two-ingredient recipe.

Tip three: use biodegradable decorations like pinecones, rosemary sprigs, evergreens from eucalyptus to bottlebrush, red flowers, popcorn or paper. Put it in the compost or worm farm when it’s too tatty to use again. Hang them on a real tree like an Albany Woolly Bush (pictured), pine or eucalyptus branch, a stick or pallet tree.

Tip four: sit down with friends or kids and have a crafternoon making paper chains, Star Wars snowflakes, paper doves, beading, paper lanterns and other Christmas crafts. Many of these will last for several seasons. Making things together reduces your stress levels and is more meaningful than bought decorations. We all felt pretty proud of our snowflakes!

May you have a meaningful, connected and joyful festive season this year.

This workshop was supported by the City of Albany and the Waste Authority of WA.