‘Maybe Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store’

There’s no doubt that committing to a zero waste, no plastic Christmas isn’t as easy as it sounds.

At the beginning of December I was full of enthusiasm and also buoyed by a wave of nostalgia. I remember how excitedly as a child I collected all the necessary bits and pieces for the Blue Peter festive makes, and how I carefully kept everything under wraps until the big reveal on Christmas Day.

And so it was that I imagined I’d transform my car boot finds – a dented bucket, a rusty milk churn and a tin-lined trunk (all of which had seen better days) – into wonderful and thoughtful gifts for my friends and family. It seemed such a good solution. Everyone is so hard to buy for, as no one wants for anything. In my childhood I wrote my Christmas list all year round and looked forward with almost unbearable anticipation to hanging a stocking on Christmas Eve. This year my teenagers were buying things for themselves with a tap of their phones early in December  – just in-case things went out of stock. They don’t seem to share the same range of emotions I did in the weeks beforehand and struggle to think of presents to put on a list at all.

Upcycled Christmas Tree Bucket
But here was a problem. However passionate I felt for this idea , one thing alluded me  …. and that was time.  I run a business, I have a family and I’m hosting Christmas this year. How can I possibly find the time to paint, sew, cut, glue and craft everything in such a short time?  And do it well? I became stressed and that totally defeated the object.  It would be so easy to revert to shopping online and try better next year.

And then something extraordinary happened. My family, who had sneered at my dented bucket, rusty milk churn and tin-lined trunk came to my aid. They suddenly embraced the whole idea of a zero waste and plastic-free Christmas and rose to the challenge with an energy I haven’t seen for some time.

As a family we made the decision to use the dented bucket as our tree stand. Before we knew it, we were composing a poem to paint on the side.  It was funny and it was ridiculous, but the poem wasn’t the point. We’d spent the evening together, creating a ditty that made us cry with laughter and felt like playing a game – but without the competitive edge we’re all so prone to.  Our rhyme was so long we only had space for one verse on the bucket, but that lead to our second collective decision – to use the tin-lined trunk as our Christmas box. We’d recreate the whole poem on the inside of the lid and every year when we open it we’ll remember the evening we spent composing the ‘Ode to the Zero Waste Tree’.

And as the Grinch found out …  Maybe Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.

Follow our next blog to find out what we made to put on the tree.


  • what a fab ditty and a lovely story too. Well done to all the Willes Family!! This has made my day today, so thank you for that. ;) x
  • glendastephenson01
    Love the poem & bucket. I found some of my Grandmother's 1920's piano music sheets just before Christmas - my 18 year old daughter & I spend a couple of evenings creating strings of origami stars & Christmas trees. They are carefully packed away for next year.

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