I always wait to decorate the house and wrap presents until my kids are out of school. I want them to be involved in it all and teach them to make decisions. But while I wait another week, I am beginning to look around the house to see what we can recycle as decorations, ornaments and wrapping. This, to me, is the fun part! Recycling!
Present wrapping via reduce-re-use-recycle
When I was a kid, I used to wrap presents in the Sunday funnies. The colors were great, and it was fun to see humor in something Americans take so seriously (shopping and gift giving, I mean). I’d dig a matching ribbon out of my mother’s wrapping box and tie it on. My mother saved all the cards we ever got, and I’d cut one up to use as a name label. There was, and still is, much joy for me in being resourceful with what’s on hand.
When I stopped reading the funnies, I used brown paper shopping bags for wrapping. Sometimes I would draw a ribbon and bow on it with crayons and write the recipient’s name on the paper as well. Other ideas for wrapping paper are old maps, magazine pages, old jeans or other large fabric scraps, or used shopping bags. I love to take something small like a pen, wrap it up in a bunch of tissue paper and put it in a big shopping bag! It makes my kids crazy, though.
You can get creative with name labels, too. Aside from old cards, small pieces of wrapping paper than you saved from last year can be cut to a size where you can fold it in half like a card. I do that a lot, sometimes with the same paper, but more often with a contrasting paper – red on green, or white on red, gold on white or with the decoration of the paper placed perfectly on the front. Make it visually interesting!
The recycled Christmas tree and tree decorations
My mother started having a folksy tree when I was at an impressionable age. She’d take dolls and toys out of our rooms and put them on the tree. At first it upset me, but I have to admit, this decorating idea is being passed down to my own children! But it encompasses more than toys and dolls!
I save small boxes from aspirin and toothpaste through the year, then wrap them, put tiny ribbons on them, and hang them on the tree. Instead of wrapping, you can paint them with acrylics. You can also cut thin cardboard, like from a shirt box, into festive shapes like snowmen, candy canes, stars and snowflakes. Paint them or cover with wrapping paper. Punch a hole in the top for a hook or ribbon for hanging.
CDs are so 20th century. There’s no need to save them! Hang them as is. The shine and glint has a very holiday feel to it! You could also put a small decoration (photo, cookie, small toy) in the center to cover the hole. Alternatively, paint both sides with geometric designs. Glue a ribbon on the back for hanging.
You know that puzzle no one works on, because they know all the pieces aren’t there?! Hang some pieces as they are, or paint them in bright colors and add a contrasting ribbon. You could write names on the back to label gifts, too.
I love making wreaths at all times of the year. I used to gather grapevines in the fall and twist and wind them into wreaths to lay flat to dry. These can be decorated with a different ribbon for each season, room or holiday. Smaller ones can be used as centerpieces to put a candlestick in.
Wreaths can be made of anything you have plenty of, such as corks, buttons, or those puzzle pieces and CDs mentioned above. Go outside and see if there are dried grasses, seed pods or twigs that could grace your door. Make a sturdy wire frame out of a hanger (if you have metal hangers anymore!). Wire your material to the frame. Fill in spaces with bows, ribbon, small ornaments or the scraps of pine boughs from your tree.
Blend your passion for recycling and upcycling with the holiday season!