Ideas for your Street Party

Our Street Party St Albans District is delighted to be supporting more than 70 street parties this year. Following our information sessions in February about how to apply to close a road, we are now lending out Road Closed signs to organisers. But parties are not made from signs alone. Here are a few ideas to get you started….

Our guest blog is from Nicola Wyeth, volunteer for Our Street Party St Albans District and project co-ordinator for Sustainable St Albans’ project, Playing Out. Following a previous blog in 2020 about using road closures to bring sustainability to your street, here she summarises lots of ideas for celebrating at a street party with neighbours.

Street tug of war with children and adults

Keep it simple….or go to town

There are no rules on what you do for your street party (except the sensible rules from Herts County Council here – make sure you read them!).

So… you can simply close the road and create the space and let everyone else get on with it …..or you can go to town with lots of organised events. The choice is yours and both are great

Here are a few ideas that we’ve assembled from street parties over the years we’ve been doing this. We hope you’ll find them useful. Pick and choose what works for you!

Black and white image of children dressed up for the coronation - boy is wearing a paper crown
Coronation street party

Please keep it eco

We wouldn’t be associated with Sustainable St Albans if we didn’t make this point first. Please think of the environment when organising your street party.

  • Please avoid disposables – from cups to plates, balloons to bunting – everything you do will have an impact on the environment. So try to avoid single-use, especially plastics and balloons.
  • Recycling – on clear up, think a bit better than black plastic sacks. Take 2 seconds more and bring out your recycling bins. It’s not hard to get the food waste into someone’s caddy and the glass and plastic into the wheelie bin. It makes such a difference.
  • Know how important community is and congratulate yourself that a road closure alone makes a huge difference to sustainability. From neighbours getting to know neighbours comes borrowing rather than buying, socialising & shopping locally and caring about where we live.


  • Make some bunting – paper, scrap cloth, even out of ironed plastic supermarket bags. A great way to pull neighbours together before your party is a bunting-making evening!
  • Buy bunting made from recycled fabric. You can buy some amazing bunting made from recycled fabrics. Try local companies like Jefferson Crafts or Third Wave.
  • Tablecloths – big rolls of paper work really well. Old wallpaper. Or plain paper and crayons – get the kids to decorate them.
  • Flowers – simple jam jars with local wildflowers look beautiful
  • Crockery and cutlery – in our street we get people to bring their own. However, you can also borrow – how about Green Bean Eco Packs, another local company. They even loan bunting! Please do avoid disposables if you can.
  • Posters – you can’t advertise your street party to the general public but you can still advertise it on your actual street! Put up posters on lamp-posts and in windows. Get everyone colouring them in. Just make sure they say “for residents”!
  • Pavement chalk is great for decorating the road – pictures, messages, inspiration. Get drawing!


Communal food is something that pulls people together.

  • At the bare minimum, put a packet of custard creams on a chair on the pavement and you have a gathering!
  • Take it up a notch and put a table out and ask people to bring cakes and biscuits.
  • Bake-Off competitions in the street are great – and you get to eat the entries. Add some cups of tea and you have a great British afternoon tea party.
  • If you want a full meal, barbecues are always popular. Consider communal ones (including a veggie one) brought together in a central spot with people bringing their own food to be cooked.
  • Asking people to bring food to share is also great – how about odd-numbered houses bringing sweet dishes and evens bringing savouries – or vice versa. Put it all on a communal table.
  • If you want everyone to sit together, tables down one side of the road work well (you must leave a space for emergency vehicles). Ask people to bring out their garden or kitchen tables!
  • If you choose to let people eat outside their own houses, that works too. You may need to bring them together through your activities… see below.
Table of food and bunting


  • Traditional competitions always go down well. Welly-wanging, tug-of-war and running races for starters.
  • Other traditional street games work brilliantly – a long skipping rope, French skipping (aka elastics), hopscotch, hula hoops, bubbles are great fun.
  • Don’t forget the kids will just love the space – they’ll bring out scooters, bikes, water pistols and enjoy it. And they’ll make up entertainment with what’s to hand – we heard of one street where the kids ran snail races!
Two children skipping in a long skipping rope
Photo: Nicola Calleja


  • Music – you can play music as long as it “doesn’t disrupt local residents”. Ask your neighbours – from a cappella singers to guitarists or someone with big speakers, there’s bound to be a neighbour who can sort some music if you want it.
  • Memorabilia – if you live on a street with older houses, see what you can encourage people to share. There’s fascinating material on the St Albans Local History Society website here and, if you live in Harpenden, the Harpenden Local History Society has done detailed histories of many streets, in their Street by Street webpages.
  • Quizzes – can someone write a quiz about your local area?
  • Bring and buy sales – consider putting out blankets and asking people to bring out unwanted stuff – toys, books and games work particularly well
  • Can you raise money for charity? Not necessary but a lovely addition. Many charities will give you sealed collection boxes – dot them around at your party and see if you can raise a few quid.
  • Face painting goes down well – often teens enjoy being in charge of this.
  • Dressing up is fun! Maybe as a competition.
  • Other art activities are great – let the kids go mad with pavement chalk! Or how about painting pebbles?

Child sitting on a scooter with Union Jack painted on face
Photo: Pierre Oliviere


People make your street party. It is so important to think about the people on your street when you make your plans. What would they enjoy?

Remember too, that street parties are hard for a lot of people. Going up to a group of people you don’t know very well, particularly if you live on your own, is difficult. So do think…how can you make it easier for those people. How can you involve them?

We like having stewards at the road closed points. It’s not required for a street party. However, two people per closure point in high viz means a role for people that basically involves sitting and chatting – and everyone’s a winner whether confused driver, resident who needs access to the closed space or that neighbour who wouldn’t come to the party otherwise. Think about it! More about stewards and also general advice about closing a road is in this video here.

Two stewards in high viz jackets smiling while people chat and children play in the road


Photos of street parties are great!

  • Try to have an agreed time where you’ll get a group
  • Share it with neighbours afterwards.
  • Make sure everyone knows you are going to share the photo.

Share your photos with us!

  • Having a Jubilee party? We intend to put together a piece for the Herts Ad about jubilee street parties and we would love photos of your party.
  • Please ensure they are full size images (photos from WhatsApp or similar will be too low in quality for the paper),
  • Please send photos straight after your party – on the evening of Sunday 5th June or early on Monday 6th June latest.
  • We will assume you have permission of subjects and parental permission for photos of children. Click here for a photo consent form for you to use for under 18s if useful.
  • Please send photos to
  • Unfortunately, we cannot guarantee publication of the photos in the paper.
  • We will keep the photos on file and they may be used by us and our partners (eg Sustainable St Albans, Oakman Inns, St Albans District Council, Herts County Council) online or in print. Please contact us if you wish us to subsequently delete photos.
Big group photo of a street party from above - 150 people
Photo: Pierre Oliviere


We all hope for sun but maybe it will rain. That doesn’t mean your party can’t go ahead. You just need to plan a bit!

  • Gazebos are great. If it’s hot they shade the food (and you!); if it rains they give you shelter. Ask around – does anyone have one in your street?
  • Kids don’t care about rain. So rain doesn’t have to mean cancellation! They’ll still have fun!

And finally…

In our street we have always had the attitude that we create a space and let the residents fill it as they wish. We do food, odds with savouries, evens with sweets and communal barbecues including a veggie one (bring your own food to put on them). Tables down one side of the road and some bring & buy blankets and we’re done. The kids play, the adults eat and chat – it’s fab.

In a neighbouring street, they really go to town. People eat food outside their own houses with their immediate neighbours but then everyone gathers together for the organised activities. Pimms tent, street quiz, sports-day games and tug-of-war are all planned and enjoyed. There is a large committee and the decorations are fabulous!

Both are fantastic street parties and both are massively enjoyed by the residents. There is no right or wrong with this – so our final message is – go for what works for you and simply enjoy! You’re doing a fantastic thing for your community.

Find out more

Watch the Playing Out St Albans District video and think about closing your street more than just once a year:

Free Playing Out information sessions June 2022

Advert for Playing Out information session June 15th and June 20th 2022.

Hassle Free Veganuary

It’s that time of year when we start to feel (trousers too tight), and see (muffin tops), the result of our over-indulgences during the festive season.

We decide whole heartedly to commit to better ways of living in the new year, which for many will involve some sort of change to eating habits. A survey last year by HelloFresh found the second most popular resolution for us Brits was to eat more healthily (34%).  

This week’s guest blog is from Lucy Bridgewater, a local environmental campaigner for Greenpeace + XR, who has spent ‘time in the cells’ for her passion. Lucy has been veggie since a teenager and vegan for a couple of years. She is also a nutritionist who is now trying to get her business off the ground in 2021 focusing on the transition to a plant based diet. Lucy publishes her own blog Mind the Milk , and has kindly shared this one on eating vegan in January, with Sustainable St Albans.

Eating ‘healthily’ means different things to everyone. To some, it’s eating more whole foods, eating organic, eating more vegetables, eating less meat. But for more people than ever before, removing animal products from their diets is the new year’s resolution du jour. In 2020 400,000 people took the Veganuary pledge, a significant increase from 250,000 in 2019, and this year over 440,000 have signed-up – including you? It’s still not too late to get involved .

But we’re all too familiar with how our well-intentioned new year’s resolutions end, aren’t we. There’s even a day to mark the occasion – Quitter’s Day – the day when the majority of people give-up on will power and give-in to their vices. This year it’s January 17th, but Veganuary is much more than a new year’s resolution, it’s about kindness to yourself and all living animals.  

Any new habit is difficult to make stick – and sadly the 21-day rule is a load of toot, sorry but I can’t lie to you. It takes hard work to improve yourself. In fact a survey by a UCL professor found the length of time to be much closer to 66 days – which still, in the grand scale of time, isn’t very long; two months. Blink and you miss it. 

Don’t give up, be different, show some sticking power. To hopefully help with your Veganuary pledge I’ve included some tips for getting through it. 

  • Keep your motivation in mind. People do Veganuary for a number of reasons. According to the Veganuary website improving health is the number one motivation (38%), followed by animal welfare (37%), and the environment (18%). When you begin to wobble remind yourself why you signed-up, and that it’s only for one month! 
  • Know you’re making a difference. It is difficult to appreciate how one person’s actions can make a difference, whether that’s using less plastic, turning the tap off when brushing your teeth, keeping the heating on low, walking rather than driving… But when it comes to being vegan, the impact is huge. In fact, it’s the biggest positive environmental change you can make as an individual. Using a vegan calculator they worked out that the average person who goes vegan for just one month can save the lives of 30 animals, 33,000 gallons of water, 900 sq ft of forest, and 600 lbs of CO2. Regardless of why you signed up, surely everyone can be proud to be helping the planet. 
  • Treat yourself: You’ll be surprised by the number of ‘naughty’ treats that are accidentally vegan. This article by PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) was a life-line to me when I first went vegan. Worth noting that ingredients do change so always check the label; dairy products are usually highlighted bold so easy to spot. The reason products won’t always have a vegan approved logo is because they are made in a factory that uses dairy for other products made in the same factory so unable to say it is officially vegan. My go-to snacks are Rich Tea or Oreo biscuits, Green & Blacks chocolate, Hotel Chocolat chocolate, or why not make your own power balls which are perfect with a brew. 
  • Meal plan. Make a plan for what meals you’re going to eat for the week ahead. It removes all the uncertainty and panic and inevitable reaching for the nearest ingredients which will probably not be vegan, thus blowing your Veganuary. There’s no wizardry involved with a meal plan, just organisation. Every Saturday morning I make my meal plan for the week. I sadly don’t have time to spend hours cooking meals each night so I love a one pot dish – bish bash bosh is my unshameless approach to cooking. Handy then that vegetables are super-fast to cook. On a Monday night we take advantage of the ‘Monday Madness’ offer at our local sushi takeaway, 50% off is too good to pass up – plenty of vegan options which I’ll put into a post in the new year. Tuesday I make a soup which generally lasts three nights, taking us to Friday. Before Vegan (BV) I loved a fish and chip Friday night supper from the local chippie so now I make my own vegan version with these fake fish fillets from Quorn with spicy sweet potato wedges, skins on, and mushy pies out a can. There’s more time on Saturday so sometimes I’ll pull a recipe from a cookbook but 9 times out of 10 I take my inspo from Pinterest. On a Sunday we have vegan pies, the supermarkets have a good range but I like Linda McCartneyHiggidy, and Fry’s. For more info on meal planning this simple guide by Kitchn is worth a read.  
  • Cheese. This was the hardest thing for me to give up, and still is, but there are good substitutes available now. My go-to is Violife, available in the cheese section of all supermarkets. Even my cat loves this stuff. The slices are good on bread or burgers, the block gives good gooey consistency grated on jacket spuds, and the parmesan is a welcome addition grated on corn on the cobs or a spag bol. The vegan cheese game has come a long way in the last 12 months, praise be. 
  • Milk. Some of you have probably already made the switch to dairy-free milk. You barely notice the difference – oat and chestnut win on an environment level (Read more about soya and its impacts on rainforests here). Err on the side of caution before ordering almond milk purely because of its environmental impact. The amount of water needed to grow almonds mostly in California makes for bleak reading. But regardless of your choice, all dairy-free milk is a million% better than dairy – both for people and planet. 
  • Get some perspective. Remember Veganuary is only four weeks. What’s four weeks? It’s nothing. It’s such a short amount of time, you can easily throw yourself into it for four short weeks, surely. 

Lucy Bridgewater

Editor Notes – more information

Vegan recipes are mainstream now; BBC Good Food has 91 listed, and there are loads of great sites/books like Bosh! out there.

 Easy swaps:  Butter on your toast?  Try one of the many spreads, such as Pure. Butter for cooking? Swap to olive or sunflower oil. Yoghurt for breakfast? Swap for Alpro or similar.  Ice-cream for the kids? This is one of the easiest swaps, with Alpro and other vegan icecream being just as good.  Creme fraiche?  Try Oatly or similar.  The supermarkets now have vegan substitutes for many, many products and you will often find you don’t notice the difference. With these simple swaps you will find a lot of your family favourites become effortlessly vegan; pesto and pasta, baked potatoes and beans, veggie burgers and fries, margarita pizza, veggie curry, veggie chill.

Eggs:  This is a little trickier, but you can swap eggs in cooking for Egg Replacer powder, or one of the many substitutes listed here:  Vegan recipes will guide you about what to do. There’s no getting away from the fact that you won’t be eating omelettes during Veganuary though.

Support our local shops this christmas

Six Reasons to #ShopLocal & Support Small Businesses this Christmas

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas… but not as we know it with the pandemic affecting everything from who we spend it with, how we prepare for it and in particular, how we shop for it. 

According to Visa, almost half of small business owners say that if everyone in their community just spent £5 extra per week it will help to keep them open long term.

By shopping locally, not only will you help boost the local economy, but you are also much more likely to receive a better standard of service and advice on products.

In this week’s guest blog, Denise Parsons, Manager at St Albans BID, shares some of the best reasons for doing your Christmas shopping in our wonderful independents and markets, and highlights just some of St Albans’ many independent stores who can meet all your Christmas needs.

Carpenters Farm Shop where you can also find the Refill Pantry

1. Boost the local economy

Research shows that for every £1 spent with a small or medium business, 63p benefits the local economy, compared with 40p in every £1 spent with a larger business.  By shopping local, you are helping to create economic growth and more jobs.

2. It’s ethical

Boost your eco creds by shopping local. St Albans is home to a host of growers, producers, and makers and whether you buy at our markets or shops, you will know that your food is air-mile free.  

3. Unusual finds!

Our retailers have a brilliant eye for the quirky, one-off’s items that simply you won’t find online or anywhere else.

Books on the Hill

4. Drives local entrepreneurship

A thriving business community is driven by dialogue between sellers and customers. It’s this feedback and conversation that sparks ideas, drive product development and creates new business ideas and revenue streams. 

Eat Wholefoods

5. Exceptional customer service 

Small businesses really do care. They will go above and beyond to make customers feel special. A coffee on the house or free wrapping to save you doing it at home. Or some great advice and guidance when shopping for an important outfit.  It’s an experience you don’t get when you shop big.

6. It’s Easy!  

Before you start filling your Amazon basket, remember YOU CAN SHOP ST ALBANS ONLINE!  Local clicks really will save bricks, so think local and enjoy the same excellent delivery and click and collect services as you would when you shop with larger companies. For Harpenden stores, try the ShopLocal list

Our amazing Independent shops have everything you could possibly want and need for Christmas. Here are our top tips to inspire you to shop and support local this year, and beyond. 

Top Tips #shoplocal

  1. Unique cards and gift wrap at Panda Cards
  2. Make your own mulled wine, get herbs, spices, fruit, nuts for festive meals from Eat Wholefoods warehouse
  3. Gifts for the Grown Ups at The Beer ShopBooks on the Hill , The Odyssey and Katy’s hampers
  4. Perfect gifts for girls that love sparkle at Mini Megan Turner 
  5. Great for kids of all ages Brick Traders 
  6. Your Christmas dinner and all the extras from Carpenters Farm Shop , Box Local and The Fleetville Larder
  7. Quirky and Cool items at Cositas Gifts , Raindrops on Roses and L A James 
  8. Choose your own locally grown tree at George St Canteen 
  9. Christmas Day Outfits at Chloe James Lifestyle 
  10. Food and natural products with zero waste The Refill Pantry on London Road and new at Carpenters Farm Shop too!
  11. Perfect gift experience for those that love a pamper Ginger Natural Health

There is a complete directory of all the businesses in the district on our website along with some themed Gift Guides for more inspiration. 


You can find a local food map here with over a dozen local suppliers.. 

Wishing you all a safe and Happy Christmas,

Denise Parsons.

Decorate Your Window for Festive Streets

“Decorate a window”. For some people, it’s pure pleasure – an artistic joy they were born to produce. Yet, for others, it’s a hugely daunting task and they wouldn’t know where to start. If you fall into the latter category, read on!

This blog is from Nicola, project co-ordinator of the new #FestiveStreets project from Sustainable St Albans’ Playing Out team.

#FestiveStreets, the new community project we have launched across St Albans District, has taken off in a big way! We have been overwhelmed by the amount of interest and, as of writing, we have had over 250 people sign up from more than 180 streets across the district.

We hope this blog will give some ideas and inspiration to the hundreds of people across the district who have pledged to decorate their windows as part of Festive Streets.

Window display of Festive Streets Logo (Photo: Festive Streets)

The basics

The first task is to make some basic decisions:

  • Day or night or both – do you want your display to look best in the day or at night?
  • Lighting – lit from behind or lit by daylight?
  • Choose your window – downstairs is often more visible to the street; upstairs may offer more privacy (as you usually can’t see right into the room from the street) – or maybe. you will use more than one window!


  • measure your window
  • begin your design….
Rope the family in to help with your window decorations (Photo: Festive Streets)


This is actually quite a key decision early on in your design. If you are doing your design to be seen in the dark, you are particularly vulnerable to people being able to see into the room. Ideally, you want them to see only the display, not you and your family watching television! In addition, the design will be more effective if the view is not distracted by the room beyond.

There are a number of ways you can ensure privacy:

  • Fill the whole window with your design
  • Pull down a blind or pull curtains across the unused part of the window (or hang a sheet)
  • Go for an upstairs window if the room’s inside can’t be seen from below.
  • Use some kind of semi-opaque material to obscure the glass you have left plain: tracing paper, white tissue paper, greaseproof paper, a large paper table cloth, even opened out cereal box inner bags work well.
  • Put a light source for the display between the curtains and the glass – eg some very low wattage LED fairy lights round the edge of the window frame (and put them on a timer)

Types of design

The traditional shadows and light window

This is by far the most popular style for winter windows because they look fabulous at night. You can do it in one of two ways:

  • the silhouette – make shapes with dark materials.
  • the cut out – fill the window with black and cut holes to make your shapes

Your dark material can be anything that is opaque – black paper is popular, but try the leftover brown paper used in delivery parcels or the black inside of a plastic delivery bag.

You then light the room from behind and those on the street see the magical effect.

Shadows and light: silhouette shapes (Photo: Festive Streets)
Shadows and light: cut-outs(Photo: Festive Streets)

The coloured window

Fill your cut-outs or back your silhouettes with colour

  • coloured tissue paper
  • coloured cellophane sweet wrappers (eg Quality Street)
  • coloured thin carrier bags
  • change the bulb colour in the room or use coloured low wattage LED fairy lights on a timer

In fact, you don’t need black at all – you could do the whole window display in colour!

Colourful window (Photo: Festive Streets)
Colourful window (Photo: Festive Streets)

The daytime cut-outs window

If you’re going for a display that looks great in day time then white paper looks fab. Think of those snowflakes we all used to make as kids – a window full of those can look spectacular.

The museum display window

A simple window display can be done in the form of displaying things. Stacks of small boxes or shoe boxes make fantastic mini shelves and you can then fill them with whatever is appropriate for your theme.

Window displays in boxes (Photo: Festive Streets)

Drawings in windows

You can probably paint or draw on windows with some special equipment but I’m no artist plus I wouldn’t know how to get it off again! What you might have to hand are permanent pens like Sharpies. These work really well on both used cellophane (try wrappings from florist flowers) and also opened out flattened cereal bags, which are even more preferable as they have add that element of privacy to the window. Sit down at the table, spread out your film and let your artistic flair in!

Window drawings on cereal bags in Sharpies (Photo: Festive Streets)
Window drawings on cereal bags in Sharpies (Photo: Festive Streets)

Garlands and strings in windows

Windows are the perfect format for stringing things up. Strings can run across the windows in horizontal lines or hang vertically down from the top. The ideas for what you can hang from your strings are endless – how about

  • traditional festive decorations 
  • homemade paper stars
  • homemade gingerbread men
  • pine cones
  • twig/stick art
  • salt dough shapes
  • toilet roll santas and snowmen

I’ve even seen a fantastic photo of a window display done with Hawaiian Shirts strung up!

Visit our Pinterest board for more inspiring pictures

Our Pinterest board is full of ideas – ok, some of them might be a little bit more beautiful than your average mortal can create, but they are sure to give you a starting point for ideas.

The Golden Rules

So now you’ve got some ideas, it’s time to go for it. The remaining thing I would say is simply to follow these golden rules:

  • Remember: it’s not a competition!
  • Keep it sustainable – don’t buy new unless you have to – use what you have or ask a neighbour
  • Keep your design as simple as you can
  • Rope in household members to help you 
  • Have fun!
  • Reflect on the joy you have brought to your neighbours and passers-by every time you see it.

Find out more

For more information about Festive Streets, follow the link from our Playing Out Project page. You can get a free Festive Streets electronic information pack to get you started which includes template notes to your neighbours, colouring posters and lots of inspiration.

Low impact celebrating

As the nights draw in and the clocks go back, many of us start to think about Christmas, something to bring some joy into the darker days, and a time to spend with family and friends, whether in person or virtually.

This year may be more strange than normal, if so it will go with the rest of 2020. Strange or not, it is good to think about our environmental impacts when preparing for a celebration – not to put a dampener on it, rather to reduce the hangover afterwards. And often these can be cheaper too.

This week’s guest blog is from Susheel Rao, environmentalist, jewellery maker/ creative and volunteer at Sustainable St Albans…

Lets create ‘peace and goodwill to ALL’ and by that I mean the planet as a whole. Can we have the same positive impact to people without the negative impact to our planet?

What are the environmental impacts of our festivities?


The joys of a feast! And for me, the joys of leftovers! If you have a tendency to over cater, think about how you can use any leftovers. Take care over where you source your food from, look for Fairtrade, local, organic, depending on the food.

Photo by Emy-unsplash


Don’t we all love presents? Or perhaps you don’t. Whether it is the joy of thinking what someone might like, the giving of it or the receiving… think about the impact your present has – can you use local suppliers or craft people? Make it yourself? Repurpose something you have? Or give a gift of time?


Whether you are decorating your tree or doing a display for Festive Streets, can you reuse or repurpose?  What ever you do, think about the impact and be creative!

Take the “12 Green Days of Christmas Challenge”

Enjoy more low impact festivities at Christmas and beyond.

Photo by Lesley Flowers

No. 1 : Have a vegan day, or a vegan main meal for your celebration

If that seems too hard, how about a vegetarian day or meal? Download the recipes below from Danielle Durant at The Cobbled Kitchen for a vegetarian feast; most are actually vegan, or can be with a simple substitute of butter to oil or margarine.

No. 2: Celebrate left overs

Challenge yourself to how many different meals you can make. For instance after a roast chicken, you can then make chicken curry, boil the carcass to make chicken soup, and also to make stock for other meals. At Love Food Hate Waste they have loads of recipes for your left-overs.

No. 3: Car free day(s)

And reduce the use of the car generally – Probably more realistically this year, think about how you travel for short distances, to the shops or to visit friends locally. Can you combine trips, or plan so you reduce the amount of trips you need to do? Can you take a walk or cycle rather than a car trip especially for a day out?

No. 4: Buy local food

Buy 90% of your food from the UK, and ideally much more local. See here for local shops . Buy organic or where you know the producer has a similar ethos where you can. Reducing food miles reduces the embedded carbon in our food, and can support local businesses.

No. 5: Buy Fairtrade / Rainforest Alliance / organic whenever you can.

Fairtrade organic coffee, tea and chocolate not only ensure the planet is looked after, but also the people. You can also buy jewellery made from Fairtrade gold and silver. Or look out for things which are ethically sourced.

No. 6: Make your own decorations and displays

Do this especially for ‘festival streets’. If you are buying, consider buying decorations that may become family heirlooms, from artisans and artists. Can you make your own decorations? Reuse ones from previous years rather than new each time. Buy local, from local craft makers and artisans. For outside lights, can you use solar? As you replace lights, can you use LEDs (although yours may already be them!)

No. 7: Give gifts of time

Cook friends or family a meal (if lockdown allows); give a voucher for 1 day of time for you to help in the garden or decorate, do baby sitting, or take them somewhere to spend quality time with them.

‘Fill your life with adventures, not things. Have stories to tell, not stuff to show’

Photo by Lee Wood of Ember Designs

No. 8: Shop Local

If buying Christmas presents, #shoplocal where possible, whether that is local shops or with local artisans. This supports local people, and can create more vibrant communities. Did you know that for every £1 spent locally 63p remains in the local community, compared with 40p with larger businesses.

No. 9: Wrapping presents

Use reusable, recycled or recyclable wrapping, and keep it plastic free. You can make your own from old magazines or decorate plain paper that comes in packaging. You could use old fabric or scraps or even an old scarf that you think the recipient would like.

No. 10: Christmas cards

Make your own, buy from local artists, or send virtual cards. Steer clear from glitter (made with plastics)! And avoid other plastics.

No. 11: Christmas Tree

If you are buying a real Christmas tree, think about buying one with roots, plant it out during the year and bring it in the next year. When it gets too big, plant it out forever. Or perhaps, rather than a tree, decorate a branch or something else, be creative.

No 12: Celebrate your low impact Christmas – let other people know about it!

More Resources

Jen Gale’s Sustainable’ish: Beginners Guide to a crap free Christmas

Friends of the Earth: Five Ways to Help the Planet this Christmas

Make your own wrapping paper – You Tube video

Festive Streets: Get creative this season and join in the district’s Festive Streets – brought to you by Sustainable St Albans’ Playing Out team. Decorate your streets with your neighbours!