Tag Archives: creative

Twelve Posts of Christmas–A Gift for Mother Earth

Not to repeat myself, but… Well, actually, I am fully intending to repeat myself because this is an important topic. I invite each and every one of you to be creative and to use your imagination to wrap gifts in recycled and reused items. As I just mentioned, I previously posted about this, but this is the time of year when we are particularly abusive and create garbage bag upon garbage bag full of stuff that will end up in the landfill. We can do better. I will admit, though, to having been previously very impressed by various family members’ matching presents wrapped in beautiful, shiny, thick wrapping paper. It looks so nice under the tree and everyone knows exactly who it came from. Very fancy.

However, I think you can make beautiful packages with just a little forethought and imagination–and maybe some planning throughout the year. For example, brown paper bags make excellent wrapping paper and a wonderful earthy background for those saved ribbons, scavenged twigs and berries, and home made gift tags. What other materials can you use for wrapping paper? How about old road maps that you haven’t thrown away yet even though you haven’t used them for more than seven years? Or, saved newspapers, park maps or large foldable brochures from an awesome vacation used it to wrap gifts for the people that went with you on that awesome vacation. And save colorful comics for the kids to wrap gifts. Using cloth and fabric to wrap gifts is a popular alternative, too, kind of hobo-chic. For other ideas, especially for creative decor, see these slides from Martha Stewart. Also, did you know that those poofy Christmas bows only look hard to make? Follow this link for step by step instructions. You will amaze yourself.

Now, if you’ve saved decorative boxes or bags, the work is almost all done for you! During this time of year, offices across the country are flooded with gifts that come in fancy boxes and bags. Lay claim to them, as well as all the ribbons and tins. If you don’t they will probably just end up in the trash–and that is what we are trying to avoid, people. You can also make your own boxes. The internet machine has loads and loads of ideas. You can use card stock, backs of notebook paper, the bottom of fancy paper bags from the mall, etc., as material for the boxes. Check out this link for tons of fabulous ideas using salvaged items to make your own boxes.

Yeah, even recycled wrapping will likely get thrown away, filling garbage bag upon garbage bag. Perhaps, a few suggestions? Save the gift bags and boxes for re-use next year, and fold the tissue paper to save for use throughout the year. Helpful hint: if you choose wrapping materials that can be used at other holidays and occasions, you can maximize their use, i.e., don’t get santa clause tissue paper. As to what you cannot re-use, which hopefully will be a smallish pile. Shred the paper and use as packing material or throw it in the compost pile. From what I learned in research for a previous article on paper re-cycling, wrapping paper can probably go into your local recycling program, though you need to do your research. For example, my county recycling, SWALCO,,will accept wrapping paper, but my local Chicago-area Paper Retriever will not.

I know, I know. My intentions to make every gift exchange I participate in zero-waste are impractical–especially at other people’s houses. I was, in fact, unsuccessful last year in swaying anyone to separate the paper wrapping from the ribbons and bows and plastic in order to recycle the paper and minimize the trash. We had a huge family Christmas and produced a lot of garbage that was frantically shoved in bags to try and keep order. However, on a personal level, I have not bought wrapping materials in more than three years. And I know that further change will not happen overnight. I slowly hope to influence my family members, one by one. Even the family member that proudly buys beautiful wrapping paper every year.

When I actually buy some present and wrap them, I will take photos to show you that presents using salvaged materials can be pretty!

Advertisements

(Other) People are so clever

Last Saturday I went to small craft fair in Woodstock, Illinois. This is nothing new. I like crafts and I visit Woodstock fairly often. What is new is that this is the first time I have gone to a craft fair since starting this blog. For a minute I thought about just sneakily taking a photo and recreating the items for my adoring public. But, I quickly realized that was not cool. I decided, instead, to use my powers for the good of man-kind. So I am sharing some crafts that completely impressed me.

By the way, I don’t know these people, their partners, parents or cousins. I am not associated with them, and I sure the heck wouldn’t get anything if you decided to buy anything from them…I just think that people making cool things from old materials deserve praise:

The Modern Homesteader

I have seen many fork crafts in my day, but I really appreciated the simplicity in The Modern Homesteader’s crafts.
These cheese labels are clever and stylish. Just stick them right into your cheeses and done.

20130504-230610.jpg
I didn’t really do justice to these labels in the photo, but this next craft is simple and so functional. These are herb and plant labels (they end pretty much where the picture cuts off on the left) They are perfect for the planting season and pretty enough to use decoratively on an indoor potted plant. 20130504-230615.jpg
And finally from The Modern Homesteader, these wooden spatulas that were planed and shaped from pallets!! And priced way too cheap for all the work that went into them!

20130504-230621.jpg

The Modern Homesteader has a Facebook and Etsy page. Check them out for some clever items.

Pretty Theory

Next are the ingenious items made from hard back books that Cricket Mrozek of Pretty Theory makes (Even her name is creative!)

First are these book marks made from book bindings. They are sturdy and smart!
20130504-230627.jpg

But these purses…they are so unique. You have to look twice to even realize it’s a purse. What a great conversation piece.

20130504-230632.jpg    20130504-230636.jpg    20130504-230640.jpg

You can find more things at Prettytheory.com.

Slowburn Candles

And finally, the delicious smelling, high-quality soy candles that Kris Hayden of Slowburn Candles makes from wine bottles. I mean, how many of these do each of us throw away every week year? And according to Kris, that lighting-an-alcohol-soaked-cloth-wrapped-around-the-bottle-on-fire trick that is all over Pinterest really just doesn’t work. They’ve taken time to perfect their craft, and have some really great smelling soy candles, too. These would be great indoors or out, but just imagine how perfect for an outdoor dinner party! 20130504-230646.jpg        20130504-230650.jpg

Slowburn Candles ships, too! Check them out their website, www.Slowburncandles.com

First… admit you have a problem.

My dear, beautiful sister was always so proud of herself for getting such fabulous deals on after-holiday items, decorations and wrappings.  Perhaps the best example was Christmas.  Every year, she would buy her wrapping papers, tissues, foils, boxes, bags, decorations on super sale after the season and put them away for the next year.  She got such fabulous savings!

When she moved from Illinois to Arizona three years ago she brought out from under the house FIVE bins of Christmas stuff, much of it never opened. Together, with hands held, and tears in our eyes, we acknowledged she had a sickness.  If you buy things and never use them, it’s no deal at all, no matter how cheap it was.

Now, I will admit, I took a lot of it…she couldn’t take it with her and we weren’t going to throw it away…it was all free for me.  But, I have to be honest,  it will be years before I actually go through it all.  Especially since I have made a vow to never buy wrapping paper and gift bags again.  Once you make a conscientious effort to save tissue, gift bags, cellophane, bows, ribbon, fillers, foils, and boxes, it adds up very fast.  People may look at you strangely at a baby shower when you are folding all the tissue into manageable folds, but you’ll be glad you did. (Baby showers are gold mines for tissue paper, by the way).  There are so many uses for tissue paper.  You can shred it and use it for easter baskets, shipping delicate products, and gift baskets. You can even wrap presents with it. You can use if for decor on gifts of plain bags, such as making tissue flowers, bows, or taking some watered down glue and decoupage-ing.

At Christmas time, I collect the ribbon and tissue and bags that people otherwise throw away. And they throw so much away! Everyone so far has rolled their eyes at the idea of shredding and composting the wrapping paper, but I hope to put that into effect soon.  I also collect small boxes and ribbons like the ones that come with all those yummy office gifts. Even if it’s too small to actually use to wrap, ribbons are great for crafting.

Occasionally my husband also has a good idea. Sometime ago he collected a handful of flight maps that the local flight school was getting rid of.  They have now become his signature wrapping and everyone remarks on how clever it is.  Repurposing things like maps, comics, your kid’s coloring book pages, instructions, newspaper, magazine pages, and tissue as wrapping paper is a great and FREE idea. Don’t forget to shred and compost after wards (I know…I haven’t gotten around to that yet, but I WILL.)