Don’t feel guilty about this month of excess – you needn’t waste any of the uneaten food or natural decorations at all: there’s always somewhere in the garden that it’ll all be of use. Most things can be chucked on the compost heap to give it a good seasonal helping of food, except for meat. Raw or cooked meat will become a stinking mess, unhelpful to the natural balance of the heap, and attractive to hungry pests such as rats that will appreciate the snack and hang about in the garden.
Shred or cut up thick stems and branches before you add them to the heap or use them as a mulch. And the birds will likely have a treat, too as all that kitchen waste will be lapped up by our feathered friends. Crumbs of Christmas cake, cheese gratings and chopped up dried fruit; all is perfectly fine to feed them with.
Just don’t put anything salty out, and be sure it’s all shredded and chopped well so they don’t choke. Old satsumas, bubble and squeak and the odd roast potato (if there are any leftover!) will also be welcome scraps for them. The birds will be just as well-fed as us! They’ll need it though, and once they get to know your garden as a good source of food, they’ll be back, making a wonderful winter sight.