Five Simple Ways to Upcycle During the Holidays

One of my uber creative friends is always coming up with amazing ways to upcycle. She’s way into mid-century design and has outfitted her gorgeous home – that was just on the cover of Modern in Denver with mostly vintage pieces rather than modern reproductions. And she helps clients retrofit their homes too. Her latest upcycling project is philanthropic to boot. She takes vintage furs, upcycles them into really cool hats, and donates a large portion of the profits to Clothes to Kids of Denver.

Spending time with her makes a girl think about how to keep materials out of recycling and landfills. In her honor, I’m sharing a few simple things you can do during the holidays to cut back on waste. I’ve also included an upcycling craft that I love: vintage Christmas tree ornament wreaths.

  1. Reuse your wrapping paper and ribbons. I love wrapping presents and making large, beautiful bows. After we’ve finished opening them, I scoop up the ribbons from the Christmas morning carnage and tuck them into one of my holiday storage bins to reuse next year. I also save gift bags. If they’re too crumpled to regift, I keep them to use anytime I need to return an item to a friend or carry baked goods to school.
  2. Keep holiday cards and make gift tags out of them. In spite of the trend to send a family photo card, I still get some old-fashioned, store-bought cards that I’m going to keep and make into gift tags next year.
  3. Be creative and use your garbage to store ornaments. After you bake your last batch of holiday cookies, instead of tossing the egg carton in the recycling bin, use it to store ornaments. And you can use that leftover wrapping paper and gift box you saved to do the same thing. Your ornaments will be just as happy cradled in torn wrapping paper as they would be in new tissue paper.
  4. Use your Christmas tree for a neighborhood bonfire. Our neighborhood has a tradition of carrying our holiday trees down to the little lake where we congregate all summer and ice skate during the winter. We use the trees for a bonfire on family skate night. Leftover trees are weighted and placed in the lake for fish habitat.
  5. Last but not least, use vintage ornaments to make a holiday wreath. What you need: metal wreath form, tinsel garland, vintage ornaments (I get them on Etsy), ribbon for hanging the wreath, and a hot glue gun. Invite the girls over and make it a craft night. These wreaths sell for a small fortune online. With very little effort, you can make your own for a fraction of the price.


this is my all-time favorite craft





2 thoughts on “Five Simple Ways to Upcycle During the Holidays

  1. Angie December 15, 2015 / 1:27 pm

    I have a large collection of tissue paper that I have accumulated over 13 years of receiving gifts. It started when we got married. I also have brown kraft bags in various sizes. Usually when I give a gift, it will be with upcycled tissue paper and a tag from a previous card, or even from a mailer or some other from of advertisement. A little bit of wraphia (that’s the brand I use) and done.

    Great post Kristin. Thank you.


  2. Ann December 18, 2015 / 8:38 pm

    Beautiful wreath, Kristin! And good ideas.


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