CHRISTMAS is a festive, but also very wasteful, time of year. Mounds of wrapping paper, cards, uneaten food and packaging are thrown away at the end of each December. So put the Earth on your Christmas gift list this year by trying some of Friends of the Earth's tips on how to celebrate a Green Christmas. Cards Send cards only to those relatives and close friends you will not see at Christmas (family and friends overseas for instance). Give a friend a hug instead of a card! Make your own cards or buy recycled ones. FoE and most green groups sell recycled paper cards. Contact FoE for more information. Re-use last year's cards as gifts tags or decorations. After Christmas, St John's Cathedral's CARES collects old Christmas cards for recycling as well as used undamaged stamps, both local and overseas. Also send FoE your used stamps (note they must not be torn as this makes them worthless) and we will pass them on to someone collecting stamps for a children's foundation in the UK that does research on children's liver diseases. Decorations When decorating the Christmas tree, make your own decorations or buy ones that can be used for many years (making your own: cut festive shapes out of styrofoam trays or scrap cardboard and decorate with paint or glue or glitter). Popcorn or pretzels threaded on to cotton also look great on a tree. Cover small film canisters with red and green fabric and ribbon. Collect pine cones and decorate with paint and glitter, or use just as they are. Wrap gifts in newspaper comics or re-usable cloth bags, or put them in decorated cake tins or shoe boxes. Gifts Christmas is a time for giving, but make sure your gifts are wanted and meaningful. Consider giving a gift to charity in the name of a loved one, or even a 'share' in preserving a rainforest in the Philippines or Belize (available from FoE). Make a present - bake a cake or cookies, knit a jumper or grow a plant from seeds or cuttings. These kinds of gifts, where you have made an effort, mean much more than a box of chocolates from the store. Remember the real meaning of Christmas - a time for peace and sharing. Please do not be selfish towards the Earth. Have a Green and Happy Christmas.