Tubular Christmas Advent Calendar

Posted on November 14, 2012 at 9:35 AM Comments comments (0)

I know that you can buy Advent calendars at any dollar or department store but you can't always control what's in the little compartments. Dollar store chocolate?? I don't think so. Besides, it's more fun for you (or maybe you can get some help from your older kids) to rifle through the recycling bin to see what you can reuse, recycle, upcycle, repurpose. Start now if you want to meet the December 1 deadline! The one shown above along with good how-to instructions is from Disney's Spoonful craft site. It's made from cardboard tubes of different sizes and glued together to make a neat wreath (two for one, yay!!). I would use a clean paper grocery bag to wrap the individual little gifts. Don't limit yourself to candy--consider age-appropriate treats like action figures, cars, puzzles, jokes, etc. Think about what your little ones like when filling the compartments.

More Advent calendar ideas to come next time.

Recycling garden cleanup

Posted on September 27, 2011 at 7:10 PM Comments comments (0)

Helping out friends with gardening cleanups in the fall is always a chance for me to bring home all kinds of material that I need to inspire my articles. And because I'm not particularly handy, the simpler the idea, the better. Anything too complicated is beyond my feeble brain. 


My next article in the Citizen is on Thanksgiving Day decor ideas (we Canadians have an early Thanksgiving) and so I can't show you pictures of what I came up with. However, here's a taste of what is possible. This hydrangea wreath is easy to do - just stick the stem ends into the twig base form and you're done. No glue required. The base is a twig wreath form made from a friend's grapevine cuttings. Also simple to make - just twist and turn while the vine is still pliable. Use a bit of thin wire to hold it together.

Next, my Halloweeeeeeeen ideas.

Make an Easter Willow Wreath

Posted on April 18, 2011 at 7:50 AM Comments comments (2)

At the Bytown market yesterday afternoon I spotted my favourite vendor selling willow (Salix discolor) branches and, of course, I couldn't resist buying a few. I sometimes just plunk them into one of my old sap buckets and leave it at that. But this year I wanted to create a nice wreath to remind me that spring is not too far away. 

To make the wreath, I simply recycled a twig wreath that I had left over from Christmas and inserted short stems of the willow between the twigs. The wreath will last a long time but keep it out of the sun.

Easy Christmas pinecone wreaths

Posted on December 6, 2010 at 6:25 PM Comments comments (3)

I've had a number of visitors complaining (in a nice way) that my Christmas posts have neglected nature. So, for those of you who love to craft and reuse natural materials, we'll start with pinecones (or pine cones). 

Like Chris over at Just a Girl (check out her pinecone wreath!), I collect my own pinecones, venturing out into the park behind my house and along the Rideau Canal (although, technically you're not supposed to pick those particular pinecones??) hoping that I beat the squirrels to them. Friends who live in the country also bring me bagfuls. 

An aside: I tend to choose projects where the finished product can be recycled or composted so I try to find ones that don't use glitter or anything else that is not suitable. If the instructions call for hot glue, if I can I use string or thin wire instead.

Image Just A Girl

Preparing Your Pinecones


If you've picked your cones outside off the ground, you may want to take some precautions to ensure that you don't bring in any undesirables. I usually leave mine out spread out over a picnic table in the sunshine. That's to ensure that whatever is in the cone, can leave. Then I place them in batches in a warm oven to open the 'leaves' and to dry the cones out. Then I'm ready to work. Here are some sites that have instructions for making Christmas pinecone wreaths.

Pinecone Wreaths

The wreath above is the kind I usually make. I wire the pinecones to a (you guessed it) a wire coat hanger pulled into a round shape. First I add on the big cones and the fill in any spaces with little ones. Then I add a bow or other decoration or sometimes just leave as is. Easy, peasy.

This is my latest version of a simple pinecone wreath--just cones and a wire coat hanger. Instructions here.

The one shown above is easy as well and Rocio over at Casa Haus shows you how to make it. Yay, she uses a wire coat hanger, too.

Image Casa Haus

Recycling Christmas Cards as a Wreath

Posted on December 5, 2010 at 9:58 AM Comments comments (0)

If you find yourself with more Christmas cards on hand than you have space to display them, why not create a simple card wreath. I reused a wire coat hanger for my base but you can also cut a 12" to 14" round doughnut shape from a cardboard box to attach your cards with glue or tape. The instructions are included here.

Not into wreaths? Here are a few more ways to display your cards

More Christmas wreath ideas

Posted on November 20, 2010 at 12:10 AM Comments comments (1)

A friend asked me if I could come up with some easy-peasy wreath ideas besides that ones I've already posted. As well as watching her pennies, she didn't want a traditional evergreen or pinecone wreath or any that were too complicated. Well, I can't say that I came up with any original ideas but I did find a few on the net that I liked.  I did modify some of the instructions and materials required so that the projects were quick, easy, and good for the environment. So here goes ...

Tinsel Garland Wreath

If you have any spare or unused tinsel garlands, you can recycle these into little holiday wreaths. It's good to recycle tinsel, if you can, as it's one of those things that's really hard to recycle. Creature Comforts has a DIY 5-minute tinsel garland wreath you can make in a few minutes. but you will need a glue gun and a needlepoint hoop. My version is easier as all you need is a wire coat hanger stretched into a round shape. Then you just wind the garland around the hanger. Easy, for sure, and better for the environment.

Image Creature Comforts

Christmas Tree Ornament Wreath

What about recycling some old Christmas ornaments into a wreath? Not as simple to make as the tinsel one but it looks spectacular. Eddie Ross has instructions for a simple enough one using a wire coat hanger as the base. Be careful if you are using old glass ornaments or balls as these shatter easily. I skipped the glue gun.

Image Eddie Ross

Recycled Newspaper Wreath

If you don't have any or don't want to use ornaments or tinsel garlands for your wreaths, why not make a Christmas paper wreath by recycling a newspaper. Sounds weird, eh? But it actually is pretty nice looking and all you need is your newspaper and, of course, the ubiquitous wire coat hanger. 

Holiday Card Wreath

Kathy of Merriment Design created a wreath using polaroids but you could do the same thing with postcards or Christmas cards. Very easy and a good way to recycle stuff into something festive. 

Image Merriment Design

Pompom Wreath

Finally, if you've got time on your hands, unravel some old sweaters and socks to make a pom pom wreath. I'm kidding--maybe. But if you've got some wool around from projects you never completed or even started, here's a quick way to make a pretty nifty yarn pom pom wreath. And it doesn't have to be red and green.

Image BleuBird

I know, I seem to be depending a lot on wire coat hangers. If you don't have any on hand, try your local dry cleaning establishment and ask if they have some to spare. Most are now going over to cardboard (yes!) or plastic (why, oh, why??) hangers and probably have some wire ones to get rid of. My local establishment had a boxful for me to pick up when I called. 

How to make my versions of the Tinsel, Christmas Ornament, Newspaper,  and Holiday Card Wreaths, go here.