Make Christmas Décor from Recycled Materials

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When it’s time to deck the halls with boughs of holly, look no further than your recycle bin for inspiring Christmas decoration ideas. Instead of throwing out the empty cereal box, use it to make tree ornaments. Tissue paper wrapped inside a new shirt can have a second life as material for a Christmas wreath. And the list of recycled materials that can be turned into a Christmas ornament continues on.

The Recycled Christmas Wreath

The Christmas wreath is usually fashioned from evergreens and holly berries. Another way to go green with a Christmas wreath is to use materials that would normally go in the garbage. Here are a few ideas to get you going:

  • Cut up a cardboard box to make a base for the wreath. Cardboard can also be used to make small ornaments such as candy canes, reindeer, snowflakes and stars.
  • Styrofoam and plastic packaging from egg cartons, milk jugs or take-out boxes can be recycled into wreath ornaments or garlands. Use craft glue to attach buttons, glitter or sequins to the plastic.
  • An old white sheet can be turned into a frilly wreath. Use tea, food coloring, beet juice or other vegetable juice to dye the fabric. The fabric can be cut in strips and tied around a piece of wire to form a fabricpom-pomlike wreath.
  • Scraps of fabric can be sewn into cute ornaments. Make small stockings that will hold little stocking stuffer gifts.

Turning Socks into Snowmen

Decorate mantles or fireplaces with miniature snowmen, Santas and angels made from old socks and plastic bottles. Use the bottle as the body and cover with the sock. Use fabric paint to add facial features and scrap fabric notions for decorations such as buttons, belts and wings.

Trimming the Christmas Tree

Some of the best fun during the holidays is decorating the Christmas tree. Add to that fun by creating tree ornaments from items found around your home. Here are a few ornament ideas:

  • Old light bulbs can be turned into a hanging ornament. Paint the outside of the bulb with snowflakes or Santa faces and attach a piece of wire to the metal end of the light bulb.
  • Old bicycle chains can be formed into stars and candy canes.
  • Scratched CDs can be cut up, painted or glued with glitter and hung from the tree branches. The reflection from the tree lights will cast colorful shadows around the room.
  • Last year’s Christmas cards make excellent decorations. Just cut out round, square or star shapes with the picture in the center of the cutout. Punch a hole in the top of the paper and string a piece of ribbon through the hole.

When it comes to the Christmas tree, give a fake tree a try. Here are a few ways to use recycled materials to trim a tree:

  • Stack books or magazines in a cone shape. To hang ornaments, attach a piece of twine to the ornament and slip the string between the book pages.
  • Hang a one dimensional tree on the wall. Cut several pieces of old wood (for example, a pallet) or heavy rope into sizes that can be formed into a triangle. Attach to the wall and decorate with small Christmas ornaments.

A quick look around your home will reveal a wealth of objects that can be turned into Christmas decorations. Juice can lids, straws and old Christmas cards can be transformed into stars and snowflakes. Turn an old clay pot and a wine cork into a bell to help ring in the New Year. And, make clothespins bloom into poinsettias with red and green paint.

Last Updated: December 7, 2012
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About Coletta Teske Coletta Teske has 25 years' experience in tech journalism, as well as home and gardening topics. She has freelanced for Fortune 500 companies such as Boeing and Microsoft, published more than two dozen computer books for Prima Publishing and Macmillan, and worked as a freelance correspondent for West Hawaii Today. Coletta has been an avid gardener since she was 2 years old. While living in Hawaii, she achieved a lifelong dream of becoming a certified master gardener.

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