Almost everyone wants their home to be a winter wonderland at Christmas. Christmas decorations go a long way to help create that magical feeling, but finding decorations that are ecological, fair trade, affordable and easy to put up without dedicated a lot of time to it, is not that easy. We have three golden rules:

1. Quality makes a better statement than quantity.
2. Buy and make
3. Perfection is not the goal

What to buy

Natural fibre ribbons

Skip the tinsel and buy Raffia ribbon or Burlap lace ribbon. Wrap around the christmas tree, make bows onto the tree branches, use to wrap presents, decorate walls or ornamental fireplaces.

Fair trade decorations

Shop local, but don’t make assumptions. Ask where products were made and also ask about suppliers and the materials used. Select products made from sustainable materials sourced ethically and traded fairly.

Nkuku [official site] has a selection of vintage fair trade decorations hand made from recycled glass, like the Edi Embossed Oval Baubles, Pico Heart Baubles and the Bell Place Name Holder could either be used as name holders or a tree decoration. They are quite small individually, but grouped together work well.

The Artisan Shed [official site] created felted wool decorations handmade from 100% organic wool and Azo free dye in Nepal and fairly traded. The Red Robbin is my favourite and the green christmas elf is definitely one of a kind.

For a less traditional fair trade tree decoration, there is the Ngwenya Glass Rhino handmade in Switzerland with 100% recycled glass.


What to make

I wouldn’t recommend investing a significant amount of time, cost or effort into making many of your own decorations except for skilled and enthusiastic craft hobbyist.

Time flies by and inbetween the present wrapping, food preparations and christmas events, spend crafting time on easy quick big impact gestures.

If you have a food dehydrator, dry lemons, apple and orange slices as decorations. These are traditional wreath decorations, but can easily also become christmas tree decorations. Hang them with cinnamon sticks, star anise or pine cones.

If you don’t have a food dehydrator, dried fruit slices and spices are available at christmas markets. Be wary of these available on-line as they are often artificially scented, which can be a symptom trigger for people with chronic health conditions like asthma or migraine.

Paper made decorations are often the easiest and quickest to make yourself. Use recycled paper or recycle it yourself by using old books, magazines or music sheets. We have made christmas cards from recycled cardboard and Riverford’s christmas catalogue.


What to avoid


Be considerate to family members with chronic health conditions or who may have a disability. Try not to place decorations in walk ways if you are inviting a relative with restricted mobility or a wheelchair users.

Make sure that passage ways are kept clear and unobstructed. Additionally, make sure that someone leaning against a wall or fixture for support isn’t going to bring down a string of decorations when they depart.

Strong scents and perfume

Avoid artificially scented decorations, perfumes, potpourri, scented candles and air fresheners.

Artificial scents and perfumes may be wonderful for some, but they can trigger nasty symptoms for others, including asthma attacks. Perfume is a common migraine trigger and most artificially scented products contain some form of perfume as an ingredient.


Dust is another common allergy trigger. Dust well as many with dust mite allergies struggle with dusty decorations and even decorations that were thoroughly cleaned will quickly gather dust by the 25th.

Open flames

Open fires and candles release smoke and particles into the air that can cause asthma symptoms to flare up. If you have an asthmatic in the family or anyone with a lung condition, stick with LED lights and LED candles.

Pick decorations that will last (and store them in dust-proof containers for next year), bring cheer and joy to all and less really is more when it comes to christmas decorations.

This article was first published on 9 December 2015. It contains affiliate links.