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5 Great DIY Eco Friendly Recycled Gifts

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Timeless, practical and thoughtful DIY gifts from the heart can matter the most during the holidays and save you from being heckled by your credit card company in the New Year.

By Sarah Jane Steele Posted Dec 20, 2011

We’ve all seen it; the person who opens their gift on Christmas morning and sees their friend has made them a decoupage planter. This sort of gift gets accolades from the receiver and all of a sudden the megapixel camera of the year you gave them seems quite trite.

Timeless, practical and thoughtful gifts from the heart can matter the most during the holidays and save you from being heckled by your credit card company in the New Year.

Here’s our list of the Top Five things you can turn from trash into Christmas gold.

1. Rubber Boot Planter

gumboot planterCost: Varies $10-$20

Nowadays folks don’t just wear rubber boots, they wear funky boots. There are a slew of colorful printed rubber boots on the market. The down side-they’re often esthetically rich and performance poor. If your boots have sprung a leak make them into a planter for someone and pick a little seedling to go inside.

Step 1: Seal the bottom of the boot with a cheap flexible repair adhesive, or simply line the boot with plastic. Stuff newspaper into the toe so the boot keeps its shape.

Step 2: Fill it with your compost soil or regular soil halfway and then plant your little sapling or plant. Herbs are great, and for Christmas you can plant some mint.

2. Handmade Repurposed Glass Ornaments

Fabric OrnamentCost: $0

Step 1: Take old glass ornaments you’ve outgrown or that your mother gave you when you were first starting out.

Step 2: Tear colorful fabric strips from old shirts or your used fabric pile and thread them through the top of the ornament. Space them evenly, using the number of strips that looks best to you. Or you can cover the ball entirely. A dot of glue in the middle of each strip will help hold them in place. You can sew the loose ends if you have time to make the ties look cleaner, or add a bow at the top or bottom.

Step 3: Paint the person’s name you are giving the ornament to on the ornament and you’ve got a ravishing recycled ornament.

3. Lightbulb Ornaments

Painted ornamentCost: $5 to $10 depending on what supplies you have on hand.

Have a Lightbulb moment and make your own inexpensive luminescent gifts! These will require a little more effort but if you have small family on your team you can make loads of these great-recycled lightbulb ornaments in no time.

What you will need:

  • A little back stock of old lightbulbs, ask around, you’d be surprised how many people have theirs lying around.
  • Rubbing alcohol to clean the lightbulbs.
  • Acrylic paint in white or chocolate brown… or you can choose to go without.
  • Acrylic sealer and paintbrush to protect your work.
  • Brown pipe cleaners, material scraps, 10mm red pompoms from any craft store, sticky googly eyes etc.

For Frosty the Snow-Bulb
You can make a snowman out of the shape of your bulb if you want to use less paint.

  • 1. Leave your lightbulb white and paint the screw cap black (for the top hat).
  • 2. Glue eyes, nose and a mouth on the neck of the lightbulb to create Frosty’s face.
  • 3. Tie an old piece of material around the snowman’s neck and fray the edges to give Frosty a scarf and you’ve got a gift.

For a painted piece of art:

  • 1. Paint your whole bulb brown and leave to dry.
  • 2. When dry, glue some googly eyes to the neck of the bulb or paint them on yourself.
  • 3. Stick a pop pom red nose just between the eyes and use a black marker to paint a mouth.
  • 4. Wrap a brown pipe cleaner around the screw cap of the bulb and you have a big chinned, but lovely Rudolph.
  • 5. Paint your bulb with an acrylic sealer, though most decorations could stand up without it.

Hint: To be even more environmentally conscious you can take cardboard and cut out antlers as well if you find an antler template online.

4. Books from Your Childhood

kids booksCost: $0.

I recently spoke to my niece about the books she likes to read. I asked her if she liked Judy Blume. She said yes but she hadn’t read a couple of books I mentioned to her. I still had the books from my childhood. I made new covers for the books and re-gifted them to her for Christmas.

 

 

Here’s how to cover the books:

  • 1. Measure the height of the book’s front cover. Measure the book’s front cover width. Measure the width of the book’s spine.
  • 2. Add 1 inch to the book’s front cover height for the total height. Double the front cover width, add the spine width, and then add 5 inches for the total width.
  • 3. Cut a piece of wallpaper, or old wrapping paper, or newspaper to the total height and width.
  • 4. Lay the cut wallpaper piece right side down on your work surface. Fold the height ends over 1/2 inch, with the unpatterned side of the paper inside the fold. Press sharp creases into the folded edges with your fingers.
  • 5. Fold the left width end of the paper over 2 1/2 inches, with the wrong side of the paper inside the fold. Crease the folded edge. Slide the book’s front cover into the fold. Close the book, with the book’s back cover facing up. Wrap the paper over the back of the book, and fold the excess over the back cover.
  • 6. Slide the book cover onto the book and paint the front with the title of the book inside along with your signature and why you though the book was meant for its new owner.

5. Homemade Infused Vodka

Homemade VodkaCost: $15-20.

Christmas is upon us and you may not have enough time to make your own wine, so perhaps try putting a twist on some vodka.

What you need:

  • A mid-level quality Vodka
  • Fruit of your choice including strawberries, raspberries, peaches, melons, vegetables, spices or whatever is in season or available. Avoid frozen or jarred fruits and veg.
  • A strainer
  • Infusion jar or bottle- you can buy actual infusion jars which have a spigot at the bottom and a secure lid. Just make sure it can hold up to about 750ml.

Ready to give your vodka some vivaciousness?

Step 1 – If fruit is your infusion of choice be sure to cut to the flesh. Remove any rinds and pits or seeds. Same goes for the veg. Then cut your exposed fruit or veg into little bite size pieces.

Step 2 – Fill the Jar with the good stuff- Once you’ve sliced, your produce goes in the empty jar. Fill the jar about halfway.

Step 3 – Add the Booze. Pour a tall one, making sure that your produce or herb is covered. The jar should be almost full. Cover it with its lid and make sure you seal tightly. Keep out of sunlight by storing in a cool, dry place or in the fridge.

Step 4 – Do the rest of your Christmas Gift making while you wait. If you chose citrus fruits you may only be waiting a couple days for your vodka to infuse. More subtle flavors like apples and melons may take a week. If you use the cucumber or lavender options allow two weeks for your vodka to steep.

Hint: Some flavor ideas include Strawberry, watermelon, apple, peach, mango, lavender, cucumber, chili, mint, ginger, and garlic.

Step 5 – Wrap a ribbon on the bottle and hand it over to person you want to buzz this Christmas. You can use an old antique bottle as long as you clean it thoroughly first. This makes a beautiful presentation.

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What are your favorite DIY gift ideas? Post them in the comments below and next year we will make a new list from your contributions!

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  • Donna

    I love the little boot planters! Thanks for the idea!

  • http://pcprima.blogspot.com/ PC Prima

    The rain boots are so cute and colorful, what a great idea!

  • Claire

    are the bulbs meant to be lit up? Can we put them in bulb holders and actually light them up? The only concern is the paint getting hot and emitting toxic chemicals into the air, so I suppose these are meant for show only?

  • Mischa

    I love the idea of recovering favorite old children's books. I was going to give my new niece my favorite Tall Book of Fairytales but it looked too used. Putting a new handmade cover on it is a great solution. Thanks!

  • http://www.chickenmcnugget.com Rosalee P. Gonzales

    I really don’t believe in spending too much just for your gift to be appreciated. Personalized gifts are far more superior to expensive gifts (It’s just my opinion!). But of course, you cannot deny the fact that technology is a need nowadays, so people are rummaging around searching for the best tablets, phones and laptops. Still, for me personalized gift is the best gift you can give to someone. Thanks!

  • http://www.amazeline.com/970 Hailey Bills

    The boot planter is perfect for letting your kids do the planting on their own. It’d be fun for them because of the different variety of colors.

  • Deep

    This is a great article thanks.

  • http://www.jecreemacave.com Jérémy

    I agree with Donna, the boot planters tip is awsome

  • Jeff

    This is a great article – thanks!

  • http://www.stratatax.com/ Dgrimm2001

    This is a great article!  Thanks for the tips! I wish I had read it in time for this past christmas.  I’m going to print it & save it so I have it for next christmas.

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