Archive for the "Christmas" category

How can I reuse or recycle chocolate/sweet tins?

After seeing Judith Williamson’s wonderful jewellery made from old sweet tins the other week, I’ve been thinking about what else could be done with them. T’is approaching the season for big tins of chocolates and biscuits after all.

Since they’re well sealing metal tins, they’re great for using for stuff that needs to be kept dry – a sewing kit, next year’s seeds stash, spices, flour, first aid kits/emergency kits, spare nuts & bolts in the garage… What do you store in them?

But do you use them for anything more exciting? Like Judith, have you use them to make anything fun?

How can I reuse or recycle plastic tablecloths?

After last month’s straw placemats and coasters post, I got thinking about plastic “disposable” tablecloths – the type people buy as a cheap way to decorate their table for children’s (and other) parties.

They’re usually thin sheets of plastic, either brightly coloured or covered with character pictures – so they seem like ideal candidates for upcycling — any specific ideas?

They’re also good as table/floor/everything covers for during messy crafts sessions – or use a no sew poncho pattern to turn them into splash-proof ponchos for very messy art activities!

Of course, it would be better to reduce in the first place – buy multi-purpose washable textiles or easy-clean oilcloth ones. Or if you don’t want a bunch of 5 year olds to ruin your best linen, cover tables with cheap blank newsprint/sugar paper and let the kids decorate it themselves — the best bits can be cut out and kept as a memento and the rest can go into your paper recycling.

As for actually recycling plastic ones, they’re usually made from HDPE (resin code 2) like carrier bags – so can be recycled alongside shopping bags.

Any other ideas for reusing and upcycling them?

What can I reuse or recycle to make small toys for kids?

From making dog toys last week to kids toys this week… We’ve had an email from Petra:

Thank you for your very nice and useful site. You helped me before, but now I have a new (reverse) question:

In a few months, my youngest daughter becomes 3 years old. On her day care, it is common to give the other (little) children a small present or healthy treat.

I prefer to give a small present, especially when it is useful and they can play with it for quite a while. Last year, I made them little bags from foam that was left over from a party.

This year, again, I would like to make something for the children, preferable a nice little toy by recycling stuff. But I’m out of ideas.

Could you or your readers help me with some ideas? It should not take too much time to make, since I need to make 20 of them. And they should be safe for little ones as well.

I’ve not had a lot of experience of making gifts for children en masse so I’m going to have to ask other people to help out here… Any ideas?

One suggestion I would make – and one that might be better for slightly older children – is to take advantage of free child labour ;) Provide them with the materials to, say, make their own puppet or little creature and encourage/help them to put it together/customise it themselves. Any more age appropriate suggestions?

How can I reuse or recycle wine gift bags?

We’ve covered reuses for old gift bags in general before but Meri emailed asking about one particular type:

I have a growing collection of wine bags – mostly paper – that are too nice to toss.

How can I recycle them – get them to people who might reuse them?

Most people I know reuse wine bags (and all gift bags) as many times as they can while they’re still in good enough condition to pass on. There is a bit of a tradition in my family to leave gift tags bare or written using a soft pencil to facilitate multiple uses.

If you’d rather not re-uses them yourself and have a number to give away, offer them on your local Freecycle/Freegle list. Scrap stores would probably welcome them with open arms too, as would organisers of local charity events like tombola or raffles, to make the prizes fancier/more mysterious.

Any other suggestions on where to pass them on? And what about reuses for the tall thin gift bags like these?

How can I reuse or recycle jigsaws?

We’ve had an email from Kathy asking about getting rid of her children’s old jigsaws:

I just know they’ve got pieces missing so would feel bad about giving them to a charity shop. They’re cardboard with a shiny paper top so they could be recycled?

Probably – as long as it’s just paper and not plastic laminate. Most (but not all) paper recycling bins take light card & glossy paper but best to check the advice in your area.

Since it’s getting to the dog days of the summer holidays and they’ll be bored, perhaps use child labour to do the jigsaws and check for missing pieces, then you’ll know what’s missing. If it’s not an important piece, you could mark on the box what is missing and some charity shops/thrift shops still might take them.

Other than that, I’ve seen old puzzle pieces used as decorations in a number of craft projects – photo frames & on ornaments and to make Christmas decorations (wreaths & baubles).

Any other suggestions?

(Photo by pzado)