It may be the most wonderful time of the year, but if you’re like most people, it can be one of the most expensive times of the year. Not only are you buying Christmas gifts for family members, but you’re also probably spending money on food for holiday meals and parties as well as travel if you have to leave town to go visit family.
But for many people, the holiday spirit really can’t start until the home is decorated for the holidays, but even that can be an added and stressing expense. Brand new decorations can be pricey, and as with any other decor choice, you want something that fits your home’s style. It can take time to find just the right wreath or table centerpiece — and time is probably something you don’t have a lot of around the holidays.
So instead of buying new holiday decor, why not make your own instead using materials around your own home? This is called upcycling — using everyday “garbage” items that would otherwise get tossed to make something new for your home. This doesn’t mean that you need to dig through your trash can to find items. In fact, there are thousands of items all over your home just waiting to be turned into upcycled Christmas decorations.
At Natran, we’re big believers in being kind to our planet, and that includes using materials that would be otherwise discarded to make something new and beautiful for the holidays. Upcycling can be a fun endeavor for the whole family because it lets everyone’s creative sides come out. Your kids will enjoy a holiday-themed arts and crafts time, and you can do something productive for the planet by keeping those items out of landfills.
So crank up the Christmas tunes or pop in a holiday movie and get ready for arts and crafts time. Here are our favorite upcycled Christmas decorations and how to pull them off at home.
Upcycled Christmas ornaments
While you can buy boxes and boxes generic Christmas ornaments to hang on your tree, why not make something cool and unique instead? After all, Christmas trees are a little like scrapbooks as ornaments capture moments in your life and track the growth of your family. Years from now, you’ll look back on these homemade ornaments that your kids helped you make and remember the fun you all had together.
Even if you don’t have a massive amount of craft supplies, you can use everyday items around your home and inexpensive items from a local craft store to make fabulous ornaments. Here are a few of our favorites.
Glitter Christmas light ornaments
A little sparkle and shine can make your Christmas tree look dazzling. In previous years, strings of lights for the Christmas tree had bigger bulbs, but as it became more fashionable to buy pre-lit trees, those lights went out of style and function, but you can give them new life with this fun craft.
Take the light bulbs out of the sockets and dust them off. Use a paintbrush to cover the bulbs in Mod Podge, a popular type of craft glue. Now pour your glitter out into a little bowl and dip the bulb in the glitter, spinning it around so the glitter covers all of it. Use different colors of glitter to give your ornaments a little variety. Once the glitter has dried, use a hot glue gun to glue a looped ribbon to the base of the light bulb. Now these little light bulbs will sparkle on your tree.
If you don’t want to make ornaments out of the bulbs, you could forgo the last step and instead screw the bulbs back into the electrical cord and instead wrap the cord around an evergreen garland. The glittery bulbs will stand out in the garland, and you can tuck the outlet into the ends of the garland. Drap the garland across your fireplace mantle or over a door.
Puzzle piece Christmas trees
Like many other families in Houston, you probably have puzzles with more than a few missing pieces, making them nearly impossible to put together any more. Instead of throwing out the puzzle all together, why not make ornaments out of the remaining pieces?
For this project, you’ll need:
- Puzzle pieces (at least 10 per ornament)
- Green and brown glue
- Buttons (any color)
- Star-shaped buttons, beads or craft paper to make a star
- Mod Podge
Start first by arranging the pieces to create the shape you want. This will help you determine how many puzzle pieces you actually need, as all puzzles are different and you might have bigger pieces. This will also help you decide how you’re going to put your tree together.
Next, paint your pieces green, and don’t forget to paint at least one piece brown so it can be the stump. Paint the front and the back of each piece and then set them out to dry.
Once the paint is dry, get out the Mod Podge and start gluing your pieces together. The can overlap on top of each other, and they don’t have to fit together. It’s okay if your tree looks a little uneven, but don’t forget the stump at the bottom. Let the glue dry
Next, get out your buttons or beads and glue them on in different places on your tree. These will be your ornaments. You can use just one color of button or mix it up. If you don’t like the color of your buttons, you can paint those as well to get just the right color. Finally, glue your star button or bead to the top of your tree. Once all of that dries, take out your hot glue gun and glue your looped ribbon to the back to the top puzzle piece. Then your ornament is ready to hang!
Of course, you don’t have to make just Christmas trees. You can also make wreaths, snowmen or even a Santa Claus if you’re really feeling creative. Have fun and be creative with it.
Upcycled Christmas decorations
You probably have a lot of unused items around your home that could be turned in Christmas decor. With a little forward thinking and some Mod Podge you can create one-of-a-kind pieces that no one will be able to replicate. Try out a few of these suggestions.
When you’ve got family and friends over for the holidays, you probably worry in the back of your mind about someone setting a cold glass of Christmas punch right on your nice hardwood coffee table or bookcase — but you’re just too busy to police all of your guests. Instead, why not make your coasters readily available by making your own?
Take that leftover wood sitting in your garage and cut it into coaster-sized pieces. Sand it down so the wood is smooth and stain it if you want it to match your decor in some way. Once it’s dry, the coasters will be ready for painting.
While you can do the painting yourself, it will be more fun if you pass the coasters over to your kids and let them paint their own holiday designs. If it helps, choose just one or two paint colors for them to use. You can also grab unused holiday cookie cutters for your kids to trace. Once the paint is dry, flip the coasters over and glue a bit of felt to the back of the wood so the coaster won’t scratch your own wooden surfaces.
Now place those coasters around your home when you can family so you can get that worry out of your mind.
Tin Can Place Holder and Gift
Your kids might enjoy making little place cards for everyone’s seat at the dinner table, but what if your guests could take a little something home with them? These tin can place holders make great holiday favors to go home with your guests, and you can find most of the materials around your home.
For this project, you will need:
- Tin cans (one for each place at the dinner table)
- Extra fabric or wide holiday ribbons (enough to cover each can)
- Mod Podge
- Construction paper and Sharpie
- Clothes line clips
First clean the tin can thoroughly and peel off the label to the best of your abilities. Now take your fabric or ribbon and wrap it around the can, securing each wrap with a little Mod Podge to make it stick. As you know, Mod Podge dries clear, so your guests won’t be able to see it.
Once the Mod Podge has dried, fill the can with soil and put your favorite flower inside. You can use flowers or herbs from your garden that are overpopulating or your favorite succulents. If you have extra faux flowers lying around from a previous craft project, you can also use those along with your fake soil if preferred.
Now you can write the person’s name on the construction paper and clip it to each can. Your kids can also get more creative and make individual place cards that can still be clipped to the can. When the meal is over, everyone has a small favor to take home with them. Be prepared to wind up with a few leftovers — some people forget while others may not want another plant.
Vintage table centerpieces
In your kitchen cabinets, you probably have more than a few little creamers, gravy boats and sugar bowls that you no longer use. Some of them might have been passed down to your while others may have been cool vintage finds that you never needed to use. Instead of letting them collect dust in your cabinets, turn those unused dishes into centerpieces that have a vintage flare.
First, wash out your unused dishes and give them a good shine if needed. If the dishes have tarnished, that’s okay. The tarnish adds some character. Let the dishes dry.
Head to your favorite craft store and pick out some faux florals to go in each dish. You can layer with some moss and evergreen twigs and sprouts with red berries and holly as well as pine cones and even succulents. If you don’t want to buy faux florals, head out to your backyard and see what’s available to you. You can use pine cones, acorns, fallen branches and other greenery to create your own centerpieces. Just make sure you aren’t bringing any unwanted pests into your home.
Arrange your florals however you’d like in your dishes. Layer them so all dishes have enough color.
Tree stand vases
If you used to get read trees at Christmas and have since opted for a fake tree, you might be wondering what to do with that old tree stand. In fact, you’ve probably seen plenty of tree stands at garage sales in your area. PIck up a few the next time you see them and make this creative craft project.
Spray paint the tree stands any color you like. It should match your holiday decor, so this is a great idea for those who can’t seem to find exactly what they’re looking for at the store. Now add a clear glass jar to the center of the tree stand and fill it with flowers or wintery florals.
If you worry about finding a glass jar to fit your stands, take them to your local dollar store. Most dollars stores have a ton of glassware in unique shapes and sizes, and you can make sure the jar actually fits by testing it in the store. For each jar that fits, pick up a few identical ones just in case it breaks.
At Natran, we love seeing what can be recycled and upcycled into something new and beautiful, so we want to know: What cool projects have you done around your home using discarded materials? Share them with us in the comments or let us know which of these projects you plan on trying this holiday season.