Recycled, Upcycled Holiday

recycled holiday_tscpl logo

I opened my mailbox the other day and – as usual this time of year – it was full of catalogs. There was a time when the whole pile would have gone straight to the recycling bin, but not any more. Now, I look at that pile and think “Raw Materials!”

Decorative bowl made entirely from one catalog.

Decorative bowl made entirely from one catalog.

The holiday season is a perfect time to experiment with making recycled and upcycled gifts and decorations. When you give a gift made from recycled materials, you are not only giving a thoughtful handmade gift – you are also giving a gift with a teensy-weensy carbon footprint! And who doesn’t love that?

One of the joys of creating items from found objects and recycled materials (okay, this may be debatable if you lean toward being a pack-rat) is that you look at trash in an entirely new light…and almost nothing is really trash.  Another joy is that your costs for materials are minimal. Win/win!

button tree

There are several approaches you can take to make recycled gifts and holiday decorations. One is to create items from materials that would otherwise be trash, as mentioned previously.  Another approach is to create items from “found objects” which can include many materials you might find outside such as pine cones, acorns, twigs, etc. You can also include old buttons, fabrics, broken jewelry, etc. in this category.  And you can combine recycled materials with found objects in a multitude of creative ways!

The library has some great books about recycled crafts in the Arts & Crafts Neighborhood:

Recycled Crafts

Open “The big green book of recycled crafts” in catalog The big green book of recycled crafts Open “Re-creative : 50 projects for turning found items …” in catalog Re-creative : 50 projects for turning found items … Open “Reclaimed textiles : techniques for paper, stitch,…” in catalog Reclaimed textiles : techniques for paper, stitch,… Open “Rubbish : reuse Your refuse” in catalog Rubbish : reuse Your refuse Open “Trash-to-treasure papermaking” in catalog Trash-to-treasure papermaking

A third approach is called “upcycling” which is when you make additions or alterations to an existing item to create a better item. The original piece could be an ugly sweater, or one with some moth holes, for example. Or you can take something humble and make it glamorous!  Here are some books about upcycling:

Upcycling

Open “Handmade gifts.” in catalog Handmade gifts. Open “The refashion handbook : refit, redesign, remake f…” in catalog The refashion handbook : refit, redesign, remake f… Open “The sweater chop shop : sewing one-of-a-kind creat…” in catalog The sweater chop shop : sewing one-of-a-kind creat… Open “Wise craft : turning thrift store finds, fabric sc…” in catalog Wise craft : turning thrift store finds, fabric sc…

And here are some books with ideas to help you celebrate a “green” holiday:

Open “A Greener Christmas” in catalog A Greener Christmas Open “I'm dreaming of a green Christmas : gifts, decorat…” in catalog I'm dreaming of a green Christmas : gifts, decorat… Open “Ruby star wrapping : creating packaging to reuse, …” in catalog Ruby star wrapping : creating packaging to reuse, … Open “Simply green giving : create beautiful gift wrappi…” in catalog Simply green giving : create beautiful gift wrappi… Open “Upcycling celebrations : a use-what-you-have guide…” in catalog Upcycling celebrations : a use-what-you-have guide…

Creating gifts and holiday decorations can be a wonderful family activity.  And when you recycle or upcycle, you are also teaching your children to be thoughtful gift givers and good stewards of the Earth!

Jill Zinn

Jill Zinn is a Public Services Specialist and a member of the Arts and Crafts team. Her passions are art and community, and she believes that art is for everyone! When she is not at the library or working in her studio, she can be found gardening, cooking, reading, or bird-watching.