artificial holiday decor alternatives

By Joe Zazzera, GRP, LEED AP ID + C | October 7, 2010 | topics: holiday decor, artificial decor alternatives, holiday greenery

The holiday season is traditionally decked out in red and green, but you can make your holidays “greener” in more ways than one. Not only can your holiday decorations be eco-friendly, they can also add more “green” back into your pocket. Here are some easy ways to do both:

  • Look for alternatives to the usual VOC-producing polyvinyl-chloride artificial trees and wreaths. Your local decorator or interior expert can provide you with a tree frame filled with beautiful poinsettias for an unusual and colorful alternative. These pyramids of red and green are not only breath-taking in their appearance, they actually help you breathe easier for removing harmful VOC’s from the air. These poinsettia trees are available in all sizes from 6 ft. to 60 ft. tall and can be strung with lights for more impact and excitement.
  • Another alternative to artificial trees are live ball-and-burlap evergreen trees. Depending on your city’s fire codes you may need to treat these with fire retardant but with expert care they should look fresh and beautiful throughout the entire season. Use them outdoors or bring them in with waterproof decorative containers. They’ll do best in cooler temperatures and be sure to keep the root-ball moist. These can be planted outdoors after the holidays, or donate them to your local senior center, school or parks and recreation department.
  • Grapevine wreaths can be heavily decorated and lighted for a spectacular effect, minus the VOC’s off-gassed by the usually artificial wreath. Use natural elements such as pine cones, bird’s nests, little clay pots, ribbons and dried flowers or fruits. Aluminum ornaments can be recycled and are often sold by local craftsmen. Or support a local school or children’s program with a donation in exchange for some hand-crafted paper origami ornaments.
  • Grapevine is also used to make life-sized reindeer, sleighs and other standing ornaments. Grapevine grows rapidly and is a renewable resource, organic and biodegradable and can be used both indoors and outdoors.
  • Want to save on your electric bill? Use LED lighting instead. Although the initial cost is usually higher, these lights use much less power and will usually last for 10 years, a great cost-saving, energy-reducing investment.
  • Colorful blooming plants are a great way to spruce up your lobby and fit any budget. Poinsettias now come in many colors, including different shades of red, burgundy, pink, peach, cream. Some even have stripes or spots. Some of the more non-traditional colors may need to be special-ordered so don’t wait until the last minute.

Other blooming plants include paper-white narcissus, cyclamen, ornamental peppers and azaleas.

  • Looking for a desk-top decoration or unusual gift? Miniature trees made of sweet-smelling rosemary can be decorated with mini ornaments or tiny bows, and some evergreens may also be available in smaller sizes. Keep them moist indoors and plant them outside after the holidays.
  • Don’t forget to add the music. Host a lunch-time concert and invite your local school choir or charitable group to sing traditional carols. Sponsor a giving tree or food drive as part of the event. This is the best time of year to support charities and show your social responsibility.