Finished feasts, unwrapped presents, new gifts and trees with branches sagging from the ornaments may be the sign of a great Christmas, but it also means that you, your family and friends are likely to have produced an increase in household waste.

In fact, we produce 30% more waste* at Christmas time — meaning that we have even more rubbish to get rid of from our homes than normal.

With this in mind, preparation for an expected increase in waste at this time of year is key to ensure that we are all disposing of our excess festive rubbish, legally, safely and responsibly.

Here are a few easy things you can do to plan ahead, all of which will help you deal with any excess ‘Christ-mess’ before it has even happened…

Update your calendar with any changes to your normal waste collection services

With two bank holidays over Christmas, remember to check with your local council for any changes to your normal waste collection services. Each council is different, but for example, they may introduce a time-limited increase in black bin bag allowance or make changes to collection dates and times in your area.

Recycle as much as you can

At the beginning of the festive season, order more recycling bags and boxes from your local council to help you recycle as much as you can over Christmas.  Bags are available to collect at lots of local shops, council leisure centres, post offices and pharmacies if you are already needing to visit these places.

Sound simple, but if you flatten cardboard boxes, cans and plastic bottles before putting them in your recycling bags and boxes, it really can make all the difference when it comes to space for more items.

Plus, look out for recyclable Christmas cards and wrapping paper. Always check the packaging to be sure, but a good rule of thumb is to avoid cards containing glue or 3D images and glittered or foil printed wrap.

And if you do have cards and wrap that cannot be recycled, why not plan to reuse them next year? You could make collages, scrapbooks, or even home-cards. Old wrapping can also used as padding – perfect for if you need to store delicate Christmas ornaments or fragile items at home.

The wrapping paper scrunch test is also an easy method to test for recycling capabilities on Christmas Day. If you scrunch the paper and it holds its shape, this usually means that the paper can be recycled.

With face masks firmly included in the order of the season this year, why not purchase a selection of reusable options instead of buying the disposable kind.  Not only will this help your bank balance in the long run, but it will help to reduce face mask waste in Wales.

Make space for new household items — responsibly

If you are expecting to receive any new large household items for Christmas, such as a new sofa, fridge, table or TV, think about how you can get rid of your old bulky items in readiness for the new ones arriving — legally and responsibly.

A good, inexpensive option, is to arrange a bulky waste collection with your local council, which can be booked online.

Or, if the items are in good condition, you could look to sell them on the web. Gumtree, Facebook Marketplace, eBay and Freegle are all great tools for buying and selling second-hand items. You never know, your old sofa may be the perfect Christmas present for someone’s daughter — and you might even make some money back as a result.

If you decide to arrange household rubbish removal with a third party household waste collection and disposal service, please make sure that you always check with Natural Resources Wales that the person or company you use is a registered waste carrier and always ask where your waste is going.

All too often, and especially at Christmas time, many individuals pose as legitimate household waste disposal business on social media. This happens very often in Facebook community groups, with posted adverts offering local householders cheap rubbish collection services at a low cost.

This increases the risk of householders being scammed by unregistered individuals, who often dump the waste that they have collected illegally in fields, on roadsides and along country lanes.

If a waste enforcement officer traces fly-tipped rubbish back to a householder that did not make the appropriate checks for a registered waste carrier, they risk an unlimited fine and prosecution. Local authorities across Wales can also issue the householder with a £300 fixed penalty notice as an alternative to prosecution.

We urge you to keep an eye out for this waste crime over Christmas to protect yourself from being scammed and to help us reduce the amount of fly-tipped waste across Wales.

Book in advance to visit your local tip

Christmas is well known for being the busiest time of year, with many of us running around like headless turkeys trying to get everything in order ready for the big day.

Amongst the food shopping, decorating, gift purchasing, cooking, cleaning and festive celebrations, it is clear to see how easy it might be to forget to book a visit to your local tip — particularly if you’re planning to take any excess waste their once the festivities are over.

So, we hope this will act as a friendly reminder for you. If you’re planning a visit to your local Household Waste Recycling Centre this Christmas, now is the time to secure your visiting slot.

To ensure safe and socially distanced visits in light of COVID-19, most councils across Wales are operating a compulsory booking system for Household Waste Recycling Centre access in order to manage the number of people visiting at any one time.

Please visit your local council website for further information and to process your booking.

But, before you go ahead and book, we would like to encourage you to take a good look at the items you are planning to get rid of — just in case there is something in there that could be put to good use by someone else, such as a family member, friend, charity or local upcycling businesses. As the saying goes, one man’s rubbish is another man’s treasure!

For more advice and useful information on safe waste management for householders over the festive period, keep an eye on our Facebook page where we are sharing daily bite-size tips in the run up to Christmas Day.

It’s all part of our seasonal campaign, #25DaysofTipmas. If you have any advice that you would like to share about safe and responsible waste management at Christmas time, please join the conversation by using our campaign hashtag on Twitter.

*data from a recent study by waste management company, Biffa.