The National Audubon Society’s Christmas Bird Count is held
Dec. 14-Jan. 5.  
Find a local count to participate in during the holidays.

Photo courtesy of the National Audubon Society




Dec. 4

By Rita Cook 

As the holidays are upon us, whether you celebrate Christmas, winter solstice or some other form of the December holiday, Green Source DFW brings you helpful green tips for making your season green and jolly.

Fran Witte, senior community outreach coordinator for the Office of
Environmental Stewardship for the city of Irving, says trends she sees this year
include first and foremost getting back to simplicity. 

“Eat healthy, buy local,” Witte says. “Many people or either getting back to vegetable gardening or are learning. With the harvest, comes the food preservation including canning, jams, jellies and salsas. Homemade jams, jellies, and salsas make great gifts too or what about great gift ideas from local artists and gift cards from local retailers.”

Witte also suggests involving the family and try your hand at volunteering in the growing community gardens or take part in the Keep Texas/America Beautiful programs.  

White Rock Local Market is hosting its Holiday Market Dec. 14.

She also cautions against overbuying food this holiday season too.  

“Try to better anticipate amounts people will eat and create accordingly, be prepared to distribute leftovers with reusable containers and give to organizations on behalf of a friend or family member.”

Other fresh takes on old holiday tips or activities are about thinking about those things we did when we were children during the holidays.

“I'm talking about things that I used to do as a child that seem really outdated today, but have a smaller impact on the environment,” Witte explains. “Involve the family in cooking and preparing the meal and setting the table. Get away from the television and electronics and play family games like dominos, cards or board games. Get outside and enjoy nature such as identifying birds, insects and plants that love the winter or make homemade decorations using items from nature, such as leaves and pinecones. Really, these suggestions may seem old, but are classics.”

Hikers enjoy Twelve Hills Nature Center in Dallas. Courtesy of THNC.

Green holiday checklist

Witte also reminds of those green tips that are common, but often forgotten;

Reduce consumption and make homemade gifts and practice the art of reusing;

If you purchase, buy quality items that will last;

Give rechargeable batteries and a battery charger when you give toys that require batteries;

Give gift cards;

Reuse wrapping and packing materials;

Use LED lights;

Use reusable dishware and utensils;

Reuse the front of gift cards in creative gift wrap;

Use materials found outside for decorating such as leaves and pinecones. 

Buy energy-efficient LED holiday lights. Courtesy of

“Think outside the box,” she suggests. “I saw a great suggestion for holiday trees in the recent edition of Mary Janes Farm, which was stacking old luggage or boxes and dressing up in order to serve as a Christmas tree, not the tradition, but it was totally reusable.”  

Witte says she also loves to give books and antiques for gifts that target a friend or family member's special interest.

“The biggest changes that I have seen in the last five years have been a move toward simplicity,” Witte says. “The news and media portrays a different story, but I have seen an increase in purchasing local from local retailers and artisans, as well as a movement to get back to basics with thoughtfulness toward healthy choices for mind, body and planet. The bottom line is turn off the TV and electronics and enjoy family and friends.”

That old, old-time feeling

For those with Northern European heritage, deep memory triggers the desire to bring the greenery inside during the cold month of December, keeping the life force of nature going even through the snow, says Amy Martin, founder of Moonlady News and former producer of Winter Solsticelebration.

“Follow your ancestral path and drape garlands of evergreen boughs, available at nurseries and home improvement stores, over the door and around the outdoor railings,” Martin suggests in order to create a winter solstice and holiday theme at home. 

See tips for making a fragrant wreath. Courtesy of Martha Stewart.

Adorn the door with an evergreen wreath, or go strongly aromatic with bay laurel and rosemary.” 

No matter what your ancestry, enjoying the age's old celebration of winter solstice can be a meaningful addition to the holiday season. Martin suggests creating a seasonal altar evoking nature's cold-weather artistry.

“The bare branches of deciduous trees evoke the fractal structure of life. Berries of red and orange, joined by the scarlet cardinals, stand out against winter's white and grey. The deep aroma of allspice, cardamon and coriander berries remind of the concentrated essence it takes to make it through the cold.” 

Overall, celebrating what Martin calls “mankind’s oldest holiday” is a special time, especially when the traditional Yule log is added as well, adorned with the greenery and spices of the season. 

“Take a moment to gather with others and honor the darkness of the longest night,” Martin concludes. “Know that just as you arose from nine months of dark, so does the world always rise in renewal.” 

Scented candles cheer up the season's shorter days. Fig soy candle. Courtesy of Whole Foods.

Cover image: Jams from Farmer Jones Eco-friendly Produce. Courtesy of White Rock Local Market.  

 Rita Cook is an award-winning journalist who writes or has written for the Dallas Morning News, Focus Daily News, Waxahachie Daily Light, Dreamscapes Travel Magazine, Porthole, Core Media, Fort Worth Star Telegram and many other publications in Los Angeles, Dallas and Chicago. With five books published, her latest release is “A Brief History of Fort Worth” published by History Press. Contact her at

Sign up for the weekly Green Source DFW Newsletter to stay up to date on everything green in North Texas, the latest news and events.