(Photo credit: Arielle Elise)Decorating for Christmas is a big deal in my office. Every year, we drag the Christmas decorations out and sort through what we still want to display and what might just be junk. Doing this year after year, and adding in all the new decorations we're given as gifts, we end up with a lot of leftover decorations.
What if you could reuse some of those old ornaments, tins and candles to make new and improved decorations? Here's a list of homemade decorations that are perfect if you want to recycle old decorations — or are just looking for a good craft project.
This is probably the easiest DIY project you can make with some old ornaments. Grab a clear vase or large bowl and throw some multi-colored ball ornaments inside. To complete the look, grab a few extra branches from your Christmas tree and create a wreath around the base of the vase or bowl. To secure the shape of the wreath, simply hot glue the branches together.
Make the most of all those little toys and trinkets your kids collect throughout the year to make personalized ornaments. All you need is a toy, a loop of ribbon and a hot glue gun (or other strong glue). Ask the kids to round up any small, lightweight toys or trinkets that they don't play with anymore. These could be the typical Happy Meal toys, vacation souvenirs or little toy prizes they may have received in class. Set the toys out and cut up some string or ribbon. Then apply a small drop of glue somewhere near the top of the toy and carefully attach the string to the glue in a loop. If necessary, apply another layer of glue to solidify the ribbon to the piece.
These ornaments are a great way to get the kids involved with decorating and a nice way for them to see some of the things they love reflected on the tree. Plus, the project has the added bonus of clearing your home of all those little unused trinkets.
At first it might seem intimidating to make a wreath out of fragile ornaments, but the results are so gorgeous it's hard to resist. You will need a wreath form, which you can find very inexpensively at a craft store. You can also dismantle an old, weathered wreath as long as it has a large enough flat surface to glue the balls onto. Then all you need are plenty of ornaments of varying size. Glue and fill in the gaps and you will have a lovely ornament wreath. (See Elle's New England Kitchen for more detailed instructions.)
Or you can opt for a paper wreath, using old or discarded scraps of wrapping paper. Many different styles can be made using different techniques, and there are tutorials all over the Web for wrapping paper wreaths. If you decide to make the wreath after Christmas, you'll have a lot of paper options leftover from presents.
Reuse old candles and tins
Every Christmas I'm guaranteed to get at least three different Christmas tins. They're often too cute to simply throw away, and there's really a limit to the number of these I can reuse for my own gifts. So reuse those tins by turning them into candles. Plenty of step-by-step directions are available online on how to melt down your existing candles if you're really ready to make a completely recycled project. You can then use the melted wax to reform new candles. You can also buy new candles and melt them down or buy soy wax and make your own candles from scratch.
Jars turn into snow globes
If you have large leftover candle jars, or maybe you were given a jar filled with dry ingredients for a holiday treat as a gift, you can reuse those containers and turn them into homemade snow globes. If not, try using a mason jar, which are cheap and easily available. That's what Arielle Elise did in the photo at the top of this post; her tutorial is on her blog.
Simply clean out the jar (if it had candle wax in it, make sure to melt it out by placing it upside down in the oven over a drip plate at a low temperature), wash and let it dry. Take some miniature evergreen trees, or any other winter-related miniatures, and glue them to the jar. Then take any flaky fake snow or glitter and put it in the jar. Seal it up, with glue if you really want to keep the jars safely sealed, and you're ready to go.