With an estimated $400m wasted on unwanted gifts over the past few years, Christmas is fast becoming the poster-child for unsustainable living.
There are lots of things we can do to change that narrative though: making gifts rather than buying items which often come in pointless, non-recyclable packaging is a great place to start, and setting yourself up for success on Christmas Day with eco-conscious dining choices and a clear bin system that all guests can engage with is another step in the right direction.
One change to make which will drastically reduce the amount of instant waste generated on Christmas Day is to make your own bonbons.
Far from the plastic wrapped, plastic filled, glossy non-recyclable materials bonbons you pay good money for, making your own is a great way to showcase your interest in environmental sustainability, and connect more meaningfully with your guests.
Clean toilet rolls are ideal, or you could make your own from thick cardboard like cereal boxes or pizza boxes.
Who Gives A Crap toilet roll wrappers are great (you can make them more festive by adding colours with texta), or you could use tissue paper, butcher’s paper, kids drawings, newspaper, reused wrapping paper… look around at what you’ve got.
Fabric ribbons are good, as you can reuse them year after year, but baking twine, raffia, paper ribbon, garden twine are all good options too, as they can be reused or composted
Things to fill your bonbons
Write jokes on reused bits of paper, or why not consider coming up with something more personal for your party?
Write an fun story or fact about guests that others may not know (obviously keep it friendly – don’t share family secrets that would upset anyone!).
Or perhaps you could write some interesting questions for guests to ask the group – “What was the best gift you ever received? What’s something you’ve always wanted to do but never felt brave enough? What’s something you’ve done to make someone else happy during the pandemic?”
Or it could be a quirky trivia question to share with the group!
As far as items go, why not consider something from the following list:
- Packets of seeds for growing
- Homemade badges or brooches
- Hair scrunchies (so easy to make!), clips etc
- Homemade toffees or truffles wrapped in baking paper
- A mini jigsaw puzzle made from a photo of guests together in the past
- Mini jars of flavoured salts, spice rubs or flavoured sugars
- Mini jars of preserves
- Mulled wine spices wrapped in a small envelope
- A ‘raffle’ ticket with a number on it. Under the tree, or on the sideboard, have a hamper filled with edibles like jarred sweets or biscuits, preserves, or even little potted plants that have corresponding numbers for guests to collect.
No Big Bang
One thing you’ll notice is that these bonbons don’t call for a ‘cracker’ strip. That’s a very deliberate move for a couple of reasons.
Firstly, yes cracker strips can be purchased from craft stores, but they almost always come wrapped in plastic, and they’re an ‘instant waste’ item, so we prefer to avoid both types of unnecessary waste.
Secondly, statistically, there’s a proportion of people who actually find the sharp sounds of crackers unsettling or even distressing. People on the autism spectrum, people with sensory processing difficulties, and those with anxiety are all likely to be working on higher alert in group social activities like family gatherings anyway, so you can imagine how much impact a series of unannounced loud bangs might have on them.
It’s not something most people would have considered in the past, but it’s certainly something that could make a big difference to many peoples’ enjoyment of the festive season, so do take it into consideration when making your own.
- Prepare your bonbon paper. If using thin paper like tissue paper or Who Gives A Crap wrappers, you’ll just need to cut a rectangle that’s twice as long and 4 times as wide as your cardboard roll.
If you’re using thicker paper, you’ll need to perforate the paper along the edges of the roll so it’ll tear easily when tugged between two people. You can do this by either running an unthreaded sewing machine on a long stitch setting along the line, or by poking holes (through several sheets at a time to speed things up) along a ruler’s edge along the line with a thick sewing needle.
- Place your cardboard roll in the centre of the long edge of your paper.
- Roll until your paper overlaps on the cardboard roll. You may like to secure the centre of the final edge of paper with a dab of glue, but it’s not imperative.
- Seal off one end of your bonbon by gently pinching the paper close to the end of the cardboard roll, and then tying a ribbon into a double knot or a bow around it.
- Fill your bonbon with goodies (you could also do this before you wrap the tube).
- Seal off the second end of your bonbon as for the first.
If your bonbons have edible goodies in them, you may like to store them in a container out of the way of pets and insects. And if chocolate is involved, it’s wise to store them somewhere cool until you’re setting your festive table.
So there you have it! Making your own bonbons isn’t terribly difficult, and can actually be a whole lot of fun. Perhaps it could become one of the rotating ‘tasks’ amongst the group you celebrate with: one year you bring entrees, one year you bring mains, one year it’s desserts, and one year is bonbons! That way everyone gets a go, and it can become part of the traditional parts of your annual celebrations.
For other ideas on reducing waste during the festive season, check out these articles and recipes