Posts tagged "Christmas"

Don’t wait until Spring cleaning to declutter after Christmas

So much stuff comes into our houses in the last two months of the year – presents, new clothes for parties and all sorts of decorations & whatnot – and after such a busy period, it’s all to easy to tuck it all to the back of the cupboard to consider mañana. But now is the perfect time to declutter – to pass on, to let others reuse or recycle – stuff.


1. So you don’t forget about the things – or get blind to them

It’s so easy to forget about things once they’re tucked away in a cupboard – the scratty tinsel, the old electronic device that’s been replaced, the party dress you won’t probably wear again until next Christmas when it might be outdated or not fit… We’re terrible at putting things on a shelf “just in case” then not only forgetting them but getting blind to the fact they’re unwanted – if we didn’t want them, why have we kept them so long? – or even there (I get to the point where I just look through rather than at clutter around the place).

2. Charity shops are often low on stock

This was apparently a particularly serious problem last year with the bad weather – charity shops saw donations drop by nearly a third year-on-year – but every year, they see an understandable drop in donations in November & December compared to the rest of the year. Help them fill back up again!

3. To catch people while they’re still thinking about Christmas

This is particularly important for Christmas decorations or other themed items. I know a lot of people who buy their Christmas wrapping paper, cards and novelty gifts in the previous year’s January sales – saves a lot of money. Fresh off the back of Christmas, people remember how expensive it is and think ahead to minimise the issue the following year. By May or June though, last Christmas is a long distant memory and next Christmas is still an eon away – and people will be less interested. Now though, people will stash your spare goodies away along with their own Christmas stash.

4. To let other people get full use out of something

Electronics, DVDs and fashion etc are all relatively time-sensitive things and if they get left on a shelf, they’ll become increasingly obsolete the longer they wait up there. I kept hold of lots of pre-recorded VHSes “just in case” then found it nearly impossible to give them away. The batteries in electronics die – or often refuse to charge again if left “empty” for long enough. Much better for someone else to get some use out of them instead!

5. To stop someone else having to buy new-new

This is the ultimate reason we pass stuff on – so our items don’t end up in landfill and someone else doesn’t have to buy a brand new product that has been made with brand new resources.

How to pass stuff on

  • Your local Freecycle/Freegle group
  • Charity shops/op shops/thrift shops
  • Swishing parties – for clothes & accessories mostly but if you’re running it, you can set the terms depending on your friends
  • Sell it via eBay or a specialist site/event such as NCT’s Nearly New events
  • Recycling banks for clothes & shoes at supermarkets
  • Re-gift — but only if you’re sure the person will like it more than you or you’re just passing on the problem!

Have you got Christmas stuff or presents that you think should go? How will you be getting rid of them?

Recycled Christmas Decorations: our favourite ideas for 2011

Who wants generic shop-bought Christmas decorations when homemade ones are so much nicer, cheaper and better for the environment? ;)

Our 2010 round-up of our favourite ideas for making upcycled/recycled Christmas decorations has been very popular this year and I hope it’s provided lots of people with lots of inspiration – but if you’ve still got a little space to fill before the weekend, here are some more last minute ideas:

Paper wreaths have been very popular over the last couple of years but I love this one from EcoEmpire because, aside from staples, it’s entirely made from reusing household waste – newspaper, cereal boxes and a little scrap of ribbon (Kat suggests the loops from clothes – I’ve got a drawer full of those!)

Sticking with paper crafts, I also love these paper ball ornaments – either as individual baubles or strung together into a garland. I also love the idea of using foil packaging to make silver or otherwise shiny ones.

These letter ornaments, decorated with scraps from old sweaters, would also work well on their own or as part of a garland spelling out a holiday greeting/special word. “Merry Christmas” if you’ve got a lot of scraps, “joy” if you haven’t ;)

If you prefer your decorations a little more natural, these mini Christmas trees made from twigs are just fab – a simple idea but really nicely executed.

The Crafty Green Poet also reminded me that you don’t have to just use special Christmas ornaments on your tree – any ornaments or little items that don’t usually see the light of day can be hung up on there – even earrings on smaller trees for a little sparkle/bead-y delight.

Finally, Deb/Urbanwide sent me this fun Nativity scene idea: the whole Nativity crew painted on champagne corks. Perfect if little ones want to play with the scene – although if you want one for this year, you’ll have to get working on drinking all the champagne ASAP ;) (A slightly healthier alternative – but one that needs nearly as much forethought – is to use Actimel bottles for the bodies instead.)

Anyone else got any fun recycled Christmas decoration makes or discoveries to share?

(Photos © EcoEmpire & MicheleMadeMe respectively)

How can I reuse Sunday roast/Christmas dinner leftovers?

Most food scraps are great for a compost heap – they tend to rot down quickly and can help keep a brown-heavy compost heap balanced, particularly in the winter when there is less fresh green matter around the garden.

But care should be taken with cooked veg and the like – if it’s been cooked with meat, fish or dairy, or soaked in a rich meaty gravy etc, the smell of that may attract undesirable vermin to the pile. Some people (particularly people with sealed bins or wormeries) are happy to chance it but other people are more cautious.

Anyway, we all know it’s much better to use them up in some other way first rather than just slinging them into the compost.

Sunday roast leftovers were always the basis of Monday night dinner in my house when I was growing up. The meat would be the star of another meal – chicken curry sticks in my mind most clearly but there were other things too – and I remember my mum used any leftover veg to make bubble and squeak.

What do you make with your Sunday roast/Christmas dinner leftovers?

We’re not really roast eaters now and steamed/boiled veg is an area in which we’re actually pretty good at only cooking what we need – but any leftovers we do have usually go down to the chickens as treats. I’ve heard you can also use them in homemade dog food.

Do you do anything else with your leftovers?

How can I reuse or recycle novelty Christmas jumpers?

I got this email from Edie a few weeks ago but I thought I’d keep it until people were thinking a little more festive-ly — I hope it’s not too late for Edie now though!

I love silly Christmas jumpers but not to wear, god, not to wear! I’m thinking of getting some to make into Christmas cushion covers but thought I’d ask to see if you had any ideas for making other things from them too and the bits like the sleeves etc.

Some of the various sweater-to-cushion-cover tutorials I’ve seen have used the sleeves to make a flap like on a housewife style pillow. Another tutorial suggests making patchwork cushion covers – depending on the patch size/style, that could easily use up all the different bits of a jumper. Sleeves could also be used to make hot water bottle covers, with the cuff “hugging” the neck of the bottle.

Other ideas for the jumpers: lots of people make Christmas stockings out of old jumpers – the sleeves might be enough for that too. Could they also be cut up to make Christmas placemats or pot holders? If they’ve got a high wool content, they could be felted for extra heat protection (although that would probably distort the pattern). Or how about a skirt for the Christmas tree if it’s in a pot?

Any other suggestions for Edie?

(Photo by lisa humes)

Last minute Recycling at Christmas links

Since sharing my favourite upcycled Christmas present ideas and recycled Christmas decoration suggestions, I’ve spotted another few awesome things that I thought I should mention in case you’ve got a few spare hours this afternoon and want to reduce, reuse and recycle!

For all those celebrating Christmas, have a very merry one!

For all those not celebrating Christmas tomorrow, have a fab weekend!