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Recycled Christmas Crafts

Lisa Vollrath is a prolific mixed-media artist whose work includes altered books, art journals, collages, gluebooks, and paper crafts.

Learn a few ideas of how to upcycle old items into fun and unique Christmas crafts and gifts! You can stretch your dollar while helping the environment!

Learn a few ideas of how to upcycle old items into fun and unique Christmas crafts and gifts! You can stretch your dollar while helping the environment!

Recycled Christmas Crafts, Gifts, and Decorations

Christmas is a time of year when dollars are particularly tight. Consider recycling materials and making items yourself to save on some of your holiday decorating and even a few of your gifts.

Whether you're looking for ways to stretch your holiday dollars or just want to bring a more handmade feeling to a very commercial season, these crafty ideas will give you a head start. They all use recycled materials, so you'll be doing something good for the planet as well—as your wallet—as you work through your holiday to-do list.

CD Christmas Ornaments, Magnets, and More!

Old CDs provide an excellent blank surface to decorate. I made the photo magnet shown here by simply gluing a printout of a photo, and some strips of paper, to an old CD. Applying one or two magnet strips to the back will make it stick to any metal surface. Stamp on some text or glue on some buttons or ribbons, and you'll have a sweet little decoration for your file cabinet or fridge!

You can turn your old CDs into all sorts of pretty things with these crafty lessons:

Light Bulb Crafts

Wondering what to do with all those light bulbs you've replaced? Turn them into holiday ornaments! Light bulbs can easily be painted or coated with glue and rolled in glitter.

This quick video from the Live Well Network shows how to recycle your burnt-out Christmas lights into glittery decorations. The same technique can be used on just about any item you want to glitter:

Here are more ideas for recycling light bulbs into holiday ornaments and decorations:

Pine Cone Crafts

Every neighborhood has a pine tree that's dropping its cones all over the street. Pick up the ones on the sidewalk and street, or knock on your neighbor's door and ask if you can collect a few. Dry them near a heat vent for a day or two, and they'll be ready to use.

A few easy ways to use the pine cones you've collected:

  • Spray them with spray paint.
  • Tip them with a little snow paint or gesso, and sprinkle them with glitter.
  • Attach a ribbon to the stem end with hot glue, and turn them into ornaments.
  • Fill a clear glass container with them to use as a centerpiece.
  • Wire or hot glue them into inexpensive pine wreaths and garlands.

Here are a few more lessons on how to use pine cones:

Christmas Cards

All those pretty cards you get each year? How can you bear to throw them away? Save the Christmas cards from this year, and turn them into next year's holiday goodies.

Christmas ornament cards.

Christmas ornament cards.

These Christmas ornament cards were made by punching circles from old printed cards. Add a little silver paper cap, a wire loop, and a pretty ribbon bow. Complete instructions are posted at Go Make Something.

Glass Bottles and Jars

I can't stand to throw empty glass bottles into the recycle bin before I've considered them for use in craft projects. These how-to lessons will help you turn empty glass containers into pretty items for holiday decorating.

Frosted winter bottles.

Frosted winter bottles.

Tins and Tin Cans

Metal tins, like Altoids tins, are great items to recycle for holiday items. These easy ideas will help you turn metal tins into holiday ornaments and decorations.

Beaded sltoids tin ornaments.

Beaded sltoids tin ornaments.

Paper Rolls

You know those chipboard tubes you're left with after you use up the paper towels or bathroom tissue? You can make stuff from them!

Here's a quick video on how to make an easy ornament from a toilet paper roll:

More great ideas for recycling paper rolls:

© 2010 Lisa Vollrath


johnmariow on November 13, 2016:

My wife and I really like your ideas. My wife particularly likes the ornaments made from toilet paper rolls. You are very creative. Thanks for sharing these wonderful ideas.

Ashly Christen from Illinois on November 22, 2015:

I may have to put some of these ideas into play this year! thanks for sharing! feel free to stop by for a recipe or just some light reading


peachy from Home Sweet Home on January 13, 2015:

i like the cd ideas, very unique and beautiful, voted up

Elsie Hagley from New Zealand on November 26, 2014:

Beautiful. Looking forward to christmas and this article made me feel as though it is here already.

ShelbyLinMarie on December 08, 2013:

Thank you for the ideas. I love recycled crafts!

rattie lm on October 19, 2013:

I think it's terrific. Anything that is recycled has to be good. Another wonderful lens for teachers. Thanks!

garyrh1 on November 16, 2011:

Nice. You can also put old CDs in the microwave for a couple seconds and they turn a really nice color. You can then make some nice ornaments with them.

Stephen Carr from Corona, CA on December 21, 2010:

Great ideas! Next best thing since re-gifting!

Joy Neasley from Nashville, TN on December 19, 2010:

I like your pinecone craft...I live in an area that it is easy to get pine cones by just walking outside and down the road. I love getting a spray can of snow and giving them a dusting with it. Then just hang on the christmas tree.

bluestonesolar on December 18, 2010:

Thanks for your cool ideas! We should all be doing our bit, whether it be recycling our debris, walking or using public transportation more regularly or trying to be more resourceful with the energy we consume.

noobeegin on December 04, 2010:

Really nice ideas for recycled Bhristmas ornaments and gifts.

javr from British Columbia, Canada on December 02, 2010:

It is the thought that counts, after all. I've seen a lot of wonderful art that was made totally from recycled items. Blessed!