'Tis the season to celebrate! And celebration is an important part of life! But this time of year can bring an overwhelming amount of snacks, drinks, decorations, and, well, general stuff. And that can ultimately all be a bit draining. Making conscious choices to incorporate simple, natural elements into your holiday plans, from treats to decorations, can go a long way towards keeping things more balanced, for both you and the planet.
Turning your home into a cozy, festive wonderland is one of the best parts of the season. One of the easiest ways to create a beautiful ambiance at home is to think about light, and really, nothing beats the magic of a real flame. While we can't cover our trees in candles anymore, having extra candles around at this time of year can be really calming. That said, it's important to think about what kind of candles you're using. Chemically scented candles—and even unscented industrially produced candles—do release toxins. Paraffin is derived from petroleum, and chemical perfumes can aggravate allergies in residents and guests. Beeswax candles, on the other hand, can actually help purify the air in your home, and have a mild but amazing scent. You can also look for candles that are soy based, hemp oil based, coconut oil based... there are options! If you really want to super charge your glow-y, air purifying experience, pop your toxin-free candles into a Himalayan salt candle holder. They're inexpensive and always look gorgeous.
It's also really worth it to consider spending time on some plant-based, DIY decorations instead of buying more cute but mass-produced holiday accents. This can be a super cost-effective option. And it can also have the added benefit of bringing people together, because many hands make light work—and beautiful decorations! Popcorn and cranberry strings are so simple to make, and are beautiful on trees, mantles, windows and doorways. And obviously don't forget the greens! If you can't grab some from your back yard, remember to check tree lots and florists for their evergreen offerings that can be crafted into garlands, swags, wreaths and centrepieces.
An only slightly more labour intensive option is to use dried citrus slices. Simply cut oranges, lemons, and/or limes into thin slices and dry them in your oven. (There's a great blog post on how to do that here.) They look a bit like stained glass when they're done, and can be used as individual ornaments, or to create seasonal mobiles using driftwood, or strung together as a garland... While you’re slicing, you can also add a few citrus pieces to mulled cider heated on the stove. Not only does this taste great but it will make your home smell amazing Your spice rack can also be easily raided for earthy elements to incorporate, and which will make your house smell amazing. Star anise and cinnamon sticks can be tied onto and into many DIY holiday crafts, including wrapped presents, and whole cloves can be poked into mandarin oranges to make lovely patterns.
And did you know that most commercially produced wrapping paper isn’t recyclable?? Luckily, simple brown paper (tied up with strings!) has a really beautiful aesthetic. And decorating brown paper with non-toxic markers or inks (maybe even using diy potato stamps…) is another project that is simple and tons of fun to do with friends and/or kids.
And, of course, there are the treats. At this time of year, even those of us on set dietary tracks can feel the temptations to 'branch out' a little. Sometimes the most helpful way to approach this can be to focus not on what you shouldn't be eating, but on what you can add to your snacks and diet overall, to make sure you're still getting some good nutrition in with all the lovely indulgences. This can be as easy as putting out bowls of nuts for protein, in amongst the plates of squares and cookies. Add some bowls of dried dates and figs to the spread, too, as well as to your baking. And don't forget how lovely mandarins and pomegranates both look and taste! Fruits can satisfy a sweet tooth while also offering an array of vitamins and minerals. For the same reason, try and remember to use honey rather than processed sugar to sweeten hot seasonal drinks. You can even go so far as adding some coconut oil and/or, say, medicinal mushrooms, into your hot cocoa to add some plant-based fats and general immune support to your liquid treat. It can't hurt to try that one out on the kids, too. Chances are they won't even notice the 'good stuff'. And, of course, we’re going to have to recommend our YouTube recipe for raw, vegan Peppermint Patties—with cashews for protein and coconut oils and flours for healthy fats they’re a dream for the health conscious seasonal indulger :) You can find the tutorial here!
However you celebrate, we wish you all the best in health and happiness for the season!