one green planet
one green planet

Christmas was once about family and friends as much as it is now about Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and truthfully, it still can be. Not all of us are caught up in the consumerism of Christmas, and even if we kinda, sorta are, that doesn’t mean the other part isn’t just as important. We all love our families and want some quality time over the holidays.

As parents, as aunts and uncles, as grandparents, older cousins, or even just friends with friends who have children, much of the fun of the holidays is being around kids, watching them believing in magic and filled with excitement. The amazing thing is that, when we as adults don’t put the value of the experience solely on presents, children will follow suit.

One way to engage the kids, build up the anticipation, spend quality time together, and get the creative juices flowing is to make Christmas decorations from garbage. Yes, garbage. Not only does this accomplish all those wonderful things listed above, but it also helps us to repurpose and reduce the amount of trash we create. All of that, and it’s just really fun.

1. Toilet Roll Santas


Source: Easy Kids Craft/Youtube

Toilet rolls are the ultimate multi-purpose kids’ craft item, and one fun way to put them to use is to make toilet roll Santas. All that’s needed is some paint, some cotton balls, a scrap of paper and some glue. Paint one end of the toilet roll red and the other pink, use the paper to make a hat (just roll it into a cone shape), and glue on the cotton for a beard, buttons, and pompom. Various versions exist for making reindeer, penguins, and other yuletide characters.

2. Newspaper Chains

Source: Steve Snodgrass/Flickr

Though incredibly simple to make, there is just something magical about piecing together a paper chain, working as a team to making it ridiculously long. Kids love it, and many adults do as well. Some old newspapers or magazines, some homemade glue, and some scissors are all it takes. Cut the paper into strips that are roughly the same width and length, bend them into loops and glue the ends together. Then, just start linking them to make a chain. Hang it in the bedroom, or put it on the tree.

3. Light Bulb Snowman

Source: Kelly Dixon/Youtube

Burnt-out light bulbs are inevitable, but instead of throwing them out, they can be used to make nifty snowmen (snowpeople, really) to hang around the house. Paint the glass part of the light bulb white. After it dries, either using paint or markers, give it eyes, a nose, buttons, and whatever else. Two tiny twigs can be glued to the sides of the light bulb to be arms. Strips of fabric or ribbon can be used to make a hat or scarf. Cut out a bit of toilet roll or paper towel tube for a stand or fasten on a hook to hang them.

4. Pallet Picture Garland

Pallet wood makes for lovely, rustic decorations. The wood is often rugged and worn with nail holes and personality scars. Take the pallet apart, saw sections of wood, and sand them with 80 or 120 grit sandpaper. Then, drawing or stenciling on the shapes of basic Christmas symbols — trees, bells, stars, holly — is really beautiful. Or, the same can be done with lettering and holiday buzzwords, such as “joy,” “believe,” or “ho ho ho.” Mix and match and string them together to make a garland.

5. Mason Jar Lid Ornaments

Source: CraftyGirl/Youtube

Mason jar lids, which can’t be reused for canning, make great Christmas ornaments. The outer circles of the lids (which actually can be reused but often get rusty) can become a tree ornament by adding either old wrapping paper or fabric to the center bit, fastening it in place with tape or hot glue. On the flat part, pictures, images, drawings, or wrapping paper can be glued over the porcelain side and the shiny side can be left to reflect light. Glue or tie a loop on it, and that’s an ornament.

6. Cereal Box Present Tags

Present tags are one of those holiday necessities that often end up being impersonal and unmemorable. Instead, if the kids make them, they can be a showpiece for presents to the grandparents, aunts, uncles, mom or dad, and whoever else. Just cut cereal boxes into strips. Use magazines or old wrapping paper to decorate the print side, and the plain cardboard side can be used to tag the presents. These are adorable, necessary, and praiseworthy — all good things for kids to feel.

Once the Christmas crafting gets underway, it will be hard to stop. Fortunately, there is much more to be done. Check out these One Green Planet articles on making natural Christmas decorations from found objects and more upcycled crafts for the holiday enthusiasts.

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