Christmas on a shoestring
(Editor's Note: This article was originally published on December 21, 2009. We are running it today as a tribute to the author who recently passed away. We send our sincere condolences to her family and want them to know we will miss her.)
You may be surprised! How many gifts and craft items do you already have in your house? I suggest that you search through your home just like you were going to have a yard sale. Find good, useable items that you don't want anymore and re-engineer them. Where should you look? Try some of the following places:
- Toy box
- Kitchen cabinets
- Storage boxes
- Junk drawers
- Your garden
- Outside in general
Then, look at each item that you found. Is it in good condition or is part of it in good condition? Does it look old? (Wait, don't throw it away. If it looks very old, perhaps it would work for nostalgia.) Does someone already love the item in its current condition? Put it back; Christmas shouldn't cause hard feelings. It is not worth the risk. Now, for any items that are still in your pile, try to imagine an alternative use for the object. Don't give up on your creativity; everyone has some...some just forgot which part of the brain it was stored in!
I have been looking around my house for odds and ends that could be re-engineered. Here is what I came up with so far:
- A couple stuffed animals
- Some pinecones
- Miscellaneous Christmas decorations
- Red, black, sliver and blue caps from plastic pop bottles
- A bright red plastic lid from a nut can
- Two black plastic trays from goodies someone brought
- A glass
- Some ribbons
- Some metal tinsel
- A green plastic garland
- An old pair of pants made from cheap silk
- A santa hat
- Some old Christmas socks that never fit right anyway
- Christmas wrapping paper
- A green (long-ago abandoned) kiddo necklace
- Silk flowers, used and never used
- Goodies from outside (Pinecones and nuts)
- My crafts box with odds and ends of goodies from projects over the years.
I had good intentions of hunting for more fun objects outside but the weather turned cold and rainy; I just could not bear the thought of the cold this year. Now, while I create...set back and enjoy looking at the pictures of Christmas lights at Rhema Bible Church in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. That should get you in the Spirit of the season!
Well, less than half an hour later and here are my first two creations:
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Naughty puppy in the Christmas decorations.
Materials: Stuffed Animal, kid's necklace, orphan Christmas decoration, bow, glue gun.
Dear Santa, I've been a good Kitty.
Materials: Stuffed animal, Santa hat, Old Christmas sock (stocking) and glue gun.
As you can see, you can take any stuffed animal toy and add odds and ends to decorate for Christmas. The kitty would look cute sitting up on a mantel with the sock hanging down. I also glued a rectangle of cardboard to the bottom of the stuffed animal on the right because it would not sit up by itself. I left the rectangle a bit larger than necessary so you can see it under the feet. These little used odds and ends became whimsical decorations when they were all put together.
Next, a little group of tiny birds in my craft box caught my attention. I remembered that years ago my mother took huge pinecones and decorated them with tiny white birds that she made from clay. It seems like she sold those Christmas decorations. Many gardeners have a collection of pine cones or know where to grab a few. I glued the birds to the pinecone and glued a sturdy bendable wire (like the leftover ends from silk flower stalks that are half used up) to the bottom of the pinecone so it can attached to the Christmas tree easily. You could probably glue a little gold wire or thread to the top instead.
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Birds rejoice in their Christmas pinecone home.
Materials: Pincone, tiny birds, glue, wire on bottom of pinecone, if desired.
Christmas tree shape on black serving tray
Materials: Pine garland cut in 5 graduated lengths, stem for tree trunk, decorations for tree, glue and hanger for the back of the tray.
In the above, right hand picture, I took an old plastic "pine needles" garland. I felt like it was too wide so I trimmed about one third of the width off each side. (Now I have to keep my kitty out of the room, I think she might try to eat these little pieces. She will have to wait until I finish writing.) I then cut the garland in 5 different section, with each section on slightly larger than the previous. I kept trimming the sections until I had a look that was pleasing. Once this was glued onto a black plastic disposable serving tray, I just decorated with whatever little favorite treasures and cut out a star for the top. I used a green plastic stem from some silk flowers for the tree trunk because I wanted that part to fade into the background. I would, however, typically look for loose some bark outside for the trunk. Glue a wire to the back and you have a cute wall hanging for Christmas. I probably would not keep this one for more than one year, although the birds will be recycled back into my craft box.
I have so many more ideas for the junk treasures that I reserved for this project. I wanted to make a tiny angel, using the travel shampoo bottle as a base for the body and I wanted to try spraypainting and glittering the glass to hold Christmas candy. I also thought about using some of my seeds to make a fun surprise. The whole idea of that has not germinated yet. One year I made shepherds and sheep from cardboard boxes and wire. I covered the base people with draped materials, soaked in thinned glue so the cloth dried and resembled clothing. The sheep were covered with stretched cotton balls. I decorated a table at a party with the design and won a contest. I wanted to make those people for you as well.
However, time has run away from me. Soon Christmas will be here.
Therefore, I have one more item to show you. I created this using mismatched Christmas ornaments that were made in China and looked cheap. I cut off the weak gold threads from the top of each then glued the ornaments onto red and green pop bottle caps for a base of stability and so they would be taller than the other items . Next, I glued the bottle caps to the black serving tray. After that, I took the old red tinsel and arranged it on the tray. Then, I looked through my craft box for anything red. I found some tiny red apples and some red silk roses. I arranged it all as it was pleasing to me and glued everything in place. Now I have a cute centerpiece for a table. The picture is below.
Christmas centerpiece on black serving tray
Materials: Christmas ornaments, red objects, pop bottle caps, black disposable serving tray, red tinsel, glue.
I encourage you to look around your house, garden and yard. Give something a new life for Christmas this year. Keeping our garden, the earth, healthy is something to do all year, even at Christmas.
Do you have ideas or pictures of Christmas decorations you have made with items around the house or from your garden? Please feel free to comment below. Also, there are many other Christmas craft articles on Dave's Garden. If you enjoyed thinking of the possiblities with this article, you will enjoy the others. See below for a link to articles like this.
Note: For those that need such notes. The above items are not toys and should not be used as such. Children should not attempt these decorations without adult approval and supervision. Be careful, a glue gun can be a dangerous tool. Please use wisdom in all you do.