Our top tips for a less wasteful Christmas

As we come towards the end of 2019, our first year in our new residence here on Castle Street, we are thrilled to have been welcomed with open arms back into the Farnham food and drink scene.

We look forward to helping you celebrate the festive season with your colleagues, family and friends here with us in the run-up to the big day.  Come Christmas Day, we too will have our feet up celebrating with our families with a well earned day off. Fear not, we will be back open on Boxing Day, when usual trading will commence.

In preparation for the pockets, purse strings and bank accounts that may take a hammering in the final weeks of December, alongside the sheer waste that this annual celebration generates, we thought it would be useful to share our team’s top tips on creating a less wasteful Christmas.

Make your own gifts

Don’t buy something just ‘because’, if you can’t think what to buy, make something and give a gift that has taken time, thought and love to achieve. There are so many items that can be made and are incredibly well-received including flavoured vodka, chutney, sweet chilli sauce, pickled onions, chocolate bark and fudge to name just a few! Or, if you are an essential oils fan and love making your own bath salts, candles, body scrubs and oils – get making gifts out of them! Not only are these all free of toxins, smell delicious and can be personalised to the recipient, but they are all super beneficial and will definitely be used… although you may find them coming back to you for more once they’ve run out!

Shop local

Whether a local butcher, baker, art gallery, Christmas market stallholder, Etsy owner or Instagram local business. It’s so important to buy local. Not only does this boost the local economy (research on spending, by local authorities, shows that for every £1 spent with a small or medium-sized business 63p stayed in the local economy, compared to 40p with a larger business*).  It’s also making an ethical choice, when you shop at local butchers, bakers, farm shops and greengrocers, it is likely that a decent percentage of the produce has had a short field-to-fork journey( and will probably contain more nutrients and have less packaging too). You’re so much more likely to find those unique one-off gifts too, with many shops stocking local designers and artists works. More importantly, though, you will always get valuable advice that you just don’t get online – whether it’s how to use the cut of meat you’ve purchased, ways to dress an item of clothing or how that toy actually works!

Make memories, not waste and gift your time

Gift a dinner out with family or friends and make special memories in each others company, or babysit for the night; the kids will love the time and attention and parents will love you for the night off. Don’t forget to take a look at our gift vouchers page for a delicious meal out either here or at any of our nine sister pubs.

Switch your gift wrap

Did you know that 108 million rolls of gift wrap are consumed every year over the festive period alone**, which equates to 4 rolls per household and is enough to go around the world 22 times! What makes this even worse, is that because wrapping paper is dyed, laminated and often contains non-paper additives such as gold and silver coloured shapes, glitter etc, it can’t be recycled. Instead, get creative with your wrapping. There are so many alternative options you can use. Unlaminated paper-based wrapping paper and pre-recycled wrapping paper are usually recyclable, so why not use brown parcel paper and get crafting! The little ones will love decorating it with their doodles and drawings (no glitter though), use ink stamps or keep it simple and use some recyclable twine or ribbon (that can be used again) to dress the gift.  Do you have a stash of gift bags left over from last year’s gifts? Re-use them, the more we re-use the better! Use baskets or re-useable fabric wraps to bring personality to gifts.  When disposing of your festive wrapping, do remember to remove (where possible) any bows or sticky tape!

Top tip – a good way to test if a paper is likely to be recycled, according to a BBC report, is to crush the wrapping paper into a ball. If it stays bunched up, it is more than likely recyclable. 

Make your own Christmas decorations

Build on your own craft skills and get making, not only is this is a great way to relax (takes your mind off life pressures, just like colouring and painting), but it’s a really fun way to pass time if you have grandkids or younger ones to entertain and are great gift ideas. There are so many ideas and detailed instructions on how to do these on Pinterest, such as creating table and Christmas tree decorations, which can be used year after year. Make your own festive wreaths, another popular activity in recent years.  Go foraging in your garden or local parks for natural items, dry flowers that you have collected, pick holly, mistletoe and ivy. Then, when you have everything you need, set aside an evening with a friend or your loved one, fill up on mulled wine or hot chocolate, put the Christmas tunes on and get creating! You will need to buy the base, but this can be used each year thereafter.

Did you know, all the beautiful hydrangeas here at The Castle have been dried and sprayed by our amazing florist – no wasting here!  If you would rather make a festive wreath under professional tuition, then sign up to our Festive Wreath-Making workshop, hosted by Moutan Flowers here at The Castle Inn.

Don’t waste food

Before you set foot in the supermarket, check your cupboards, fridge and freezer contents! Try to use up what you already have and see how many meals you can create.  Not only will this free up space ready for incoming Christmas supplies, but again, will save the guilt of throwing gone off foods away and you can feel smug that you’ve prolonged the next shop for a few more days. If you’re not sure what to make with your key remaining ingredients, type them into google and search recipe – you will be surprised what you can make with a few leftover veggies or potatoes that are about to sprout or even eggs that are on their last legs.

Prepare a meal planner over the festive period, allowing for days of leftovers or being entertained elsewhere. There’s nothing worse than the thought of throwing hard-earned money away when food has gone soggy/ mouldy having sat waiting to be eaten. If you have bread or fruit that’s starting to turn, freeze it! Whizz any leftover bread up in a processor and store in a food bag or container in the freezer – just keep adding to it, meatballs, goujons, pesto crusts – there are unlimited uses for breadcrumbs!  Use up fruits that you froze to avoid waste, such as bananas and berries, in smoothies and cake mixtures. Herbs and chillies – chop them up before they wilt, clearly label and freeze.

When unpacking and putting away your food shop, decide what can be frozen first – meats, loaves of bread, rolls – these can all be frozen and taken out the night before/ morning that you plan to use.  Ensure any older tins are brought forward and the new ones placed at the back to avoid food going out of date… we’ve all pulled out a tin or packet to use before realising it went out of date a year (or more) earlier!

Spend a day batch-cooking some meals for the days/ weeks ahead. Not only will this use up your ingredients at the peak of their shelf life (so will remain tip-top once frozen), but will also help you to eat well, even on the days you don’t have time or can’t be bothered to cook.  Remember to clearly label and date these, so that in weeks to come it doesn’t become a lucky dip exercise!

We all love a bargain, but if you know you’re not going to eat two jars of pickled onions from the BOGOF promotion, drop one in the foodbank collection at the back of the supermarket.

Unwanted or unused items

Before the big day, have a tidy out of the playroom, wardrobes, cupboards and under the bed to collate any unwanted items that can be given new homes.  Not only will this create you more space for the incoming gifts you will receive, but it will also ensure your goods will be given new life, rather than going to the dump to sit on a landfill.  Donate unwanted long-life foods to foodbanks (ensuring these have a lifespan of at least February 2020), donate unused cosmetics, toiletries and clothing to a local women’s refuge, fill up a box of toys and children’s books that are no longer used (or never opened) and drop off at your local hospital, children’s home or refuge. Have spare duvets or sleeping bags that are taking up space and gaining dust? Donate them to your closest shelter. If you’re not sure where to find any of these places (many addresses will be unobtainable for security reasons) then contact your local council who will either take your items (to deliver directly) or will point you in the right direction.

If we get a white Christmas

Don’t eat yellow snow!! Sorry, we always get someone giving silly advice, but we hope you will find even just one of these tips to be useful and welcoming in your home this Christmas.

From everyone here at The Castle Inn, from the chefs in the kitchen to the staff you see every visit, we wish you the most wonderful Christmas and a prosperous New Year ahead. We look forward to seeing you soon.

*Source – www.countryliving.com – The best recyclable wrapping paper for Christmas gifts
** Source – www.theguardian.com, Seven reasons to shop locally