It’s the most wonderful time of the year, when there’s a nip in the air, the sound of carols around every corner and the aroma of rum-laced fruit cake wafting through windows. It’s also the perfect setting to step outside and make merry. This Christmas, we bring you six ideas to celebrate in outdoorsy style, while reducing your ecological footprint. Trust us, it’ll be fun!
1. Deck the Neighbourhood
Christmas is all about community. What better way to come together in the outdoors than beautify your neighbourhood? Bring your friends and family together and decorate a conifer in the vicinity – remember to ask for necessary permission. Traditionally, yule trees were decorated with eco-friendly ornaments – either handmade (papier-mache baubles, embroidered felt danglers, etc) or food-based (naturally dyed popcorn and berry chains, fruit, etc). If you’re considering the latter, beware of peckish creatures in the area. Else, there are plenty of DIY ideas online. Besides a tree, you can also create a community star and nativity scene. To challenge your creativity, participate in a local competition for the same.
2. Bring the Outdoors In
The origin of the Christmas tree goes back centuries to the early Egyptians and Romans, who decorated their homes with evergreen plants in winter. It served as a reminder that life would once again bloom with the return of the sun god in summer. With the advent of Christianity, came the idea of the Christmas tree, as we know it today. In keeping with this tradition, ditch the clichéd plastic Christmas tree and trimmings this year. Make your home interiors unique with a rustic-chic theme. Try an alternative tree by breathing new life into a fallen branch. Or get yourself a potted fir/pine plant that will grow to become a cheery addition to your garden – depending on the region you live in. Potted poinsettias and berries are other natural ways to add a splash of festive colours to your décor. Create wreaths with fallen leaves and twigs. Or how about a Rudolph made with twig horns and a pair of mustard-seed eyes and a nose? Upcycle old dupattas, newspaper and household items to create ornaments. The possibilities are endless and think of all the brownie points you’ll score with Santa!
3. Join in the Midnight Mass
This festival would be incomplete without the midnight mass. There’s no better an event to experience the Christmas spirit than at the religious service, usually held under the stars, with the entire congregation dressed in their finest. It’s a celebration of the birth of Christ with song and sacred rituals – and everyone is welcome!
4. Go Crib Hopping and Carolling
Doesn’t the thought of an evening stroll on a cool, wintery night sound alluring? Explore your city/neighbourhood around the week of Christmas to take in the sights and sounds. Get your dose of nature while you’re at it. As people get increasingly eco-conscious, we’re happy to see more nature-friendly nativity scenes – complete with methi (fenugreek) meadows, straw and stone mangers and the like. Join in or trail carollers as they go from door to door spreading Christmas cheer along the way.
5. Check Out Christmas Events
The winter cues a number of festive open-air cultural events across the country. Check local listings for flea markets that offer mouth-watering delicacies and handmade gifting ideas for loved ones. The cities of Kolkata, Kochi and Panjim are known for their spectacular Christmas displays and play host to cultural events like the Kochi-Muziris Biennale or head to Shillong where the hills come alive with the sound of music – from gospel songs to bluesy tunes, there are a number of gigs to choose from.
6. Gifts that Keep Giving
Let the theme of this year’s Secret Santa be eco-friendly. While gift shopping, look for handmade options in upcycled materials, saplings or potted plants, driftwood coloured pencils, fabric bags and wallets that promote traditional Indian crafts, sugarcane cutlery, cane décor, etc. Wrap your presents in old newspapers and fabrics, and a whole lot of love!