Easy no sew Christmas card bunting

easy no sew upcycled bunting

I recently posted about the challenges of trying to recycle over 160 Christmas cards. I know that I can put them in the cardboard recycling box (or at special collection boxes in supermarkets) but I wanted to create something with them.

Having taken part in last Thursday’s #makedoandmendhour on Twitter and from a trawl of pinterest I picked up a few useful tips.

I had already turned some of the cards into gift labels for next Christmas, and adapted some of the rectangular ones into thank you cards from my daughters:

However I’d also heard about upcycling cards into festive bunting, so here is my guide to ‘no sew Christmas Card Bunting’:

no sew bunting

  1. Select about 20-30 Christmas Cards of complimentary colours. I made two piles: red & green and blue & white (if you like to ring the changes with different colour schemes every Christmas this is a cheap and green way of doing it).

 

red themed cards for bunting

2) Using scissors – or a small paper guillotine – cut off the back and then slice the front into a triangle:

making Christmas card bunting

3) Remember that the bunting flags will hang from the widest part so bear this in mind if you have writing or particular images on them. I don’t have great spacial awareness so got a couple of them wrong so they will now hang ‘upside down’:

upside down bunting flags

oops! Wrong way round 😦

4) When you have a collection take a hole punch and punch one or two holes into the top:

5) Then take the ribbon, wool or string (perhaps saved from Christmas wrapping?) and thread through the holes:

christmas card bunting

And, here we go – easy peasey no sew upcycled bunting!

no sew Christmas card bunting

Don’t forget you could also use this for birthdays or other occasions (perhaps if you get loads of Valentine cards?!). Now I will just have to remember where I’ve stored this bunting for next Christmas!

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Upcycling candles for Christmas

upcycled Christmas candle

You know how sometimes you have the best intentions to take on a project but, somehow, you never get round to it? Last Christmas I pinned a load of tips on my pinterest boards on how to upcycle old candles. I have some beautiful scented candles but, unfortunately, the wicks have all but disappeared, leaving me with gorgeous smelling wax that I can no longer burn.

 

upcycling old candles

So last year I decided I was going to re-make these candles using tips from here and here. I dutifully ordered some new wicks from the web and then left them in my sewing box for a whole year.

So this Christmas I decided to spend a pleasant afternoon re-making new candles from old.

All of my candles came in heat proof glasses. I gently boiled a saucepan of water and placed the candle in it.

 

upcycling old candles

The wax took about 20 minutes to melt (depends on how much wax you have left). I was able to scrape out the old wick before melting it.

When the wax had become liquid I poured it into a new glass container, with the new wick standing in the middle. Some instructions suggest wrapping the excess wick around a pencil to keep it in position but I found I only needed to hold the wick upright with my finger and thumb for a couple of minutes.

upcycling old candles

I then let the wax cool down and, voila, new candles from old! I used a white chalkboard pen to write the names on the glass jars.

new candles from old

I used jars and old candle holders for the new candles. Some recipes I had seen suggested layering different scented candle wax to create new perfumes. However I had enough wax left from each individual candle to re-make them on their own.

I also found a good use for some of the older candle jars and – after a scrub – turned them into drinking glasses. (Pictured here alongside another upcycled tumbler which was originally a Nutella jar from Italy)

re-used candle jar

The plus side of melting scented candles all afternoon was that my house smelt of a gorgeous mix of vanilla, berries and rose perfumes. These upcycled candles make a great gift idea and I’ve seen some clever tips using old teacups. However I’m far too selfish to let these candles go …. I’m just cross with myself that they have been sitting around gathering dust all year when I could have re-made them with such little effort!

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Scrapstore Halloween

Last year I wrote this post about our second-hand Halloween. Since then the decorations got damaged and had to be thrown away. Thankfully we had picked up a big bag of ‘scrap’ from Wiltshire Scrapstore in the summer and had lots of material left to make some new spooky decorations.

As you can see from the picture below, we re-used some Scrapstore netting and turned it into a giant cobweb. We made some spiders from circles of black foam and some very simple ghosts from some old white fabric.

Scrapstore Halloween Decorations

 

Last year we had to get rid of our old tent, after 12 years, but I kept the white fabric from the sleeping compartments and for this Halloween we turned it into a very simple ghost.

Halloween ghost using old fabric

I have to confess I ‘stole’ this idea from Pinterest but I think it looks quite effective. We used three garden poles and attached a stuffed carrier bag to the middle one. We draped the fabric over the three poles and used some wire to create a head shape.

'Tent' ghost

 

The giant pumpkin came from the allotment of a friend who was raising funds for Diabetes UK. I’ve tried to save as much flesh when carving it and hope to turn it into something tasty.

Hope you had a fun Halloween!

A Charlie & The Chocolate Factory Scrapstore Birthday Party

Today was my youngest daughter’s seventh birthday. She had requested a Charlie and the Chocolate Factory theme as they had been reading the book in class.

In my usual cheap way I decided to make use of what we already had at home, while also taking a trip to the wonderful Wiltshire Scrapstore. I have blogged about this great resource before. We are very fortunate to have the scrapstore (and its High Street shop) only twenty minutes’ away in the beautiful village of Lacock. At the beginning of the school holidays we took a trip the scrapstore – a great holiday activity  in itself. For just £7 I got this massive bag of scrap paper, foam, ribbon, cellophane wrapping and other odds and ends:

Wiltshire Scrapstore bag: ideal for party decorations!

 

At home we got creative, making large liquorice allsorts from black and orange foam. We also blew up some balloons to make giant jelly beans, and then hung them all from ribbon to make a sweet-themed entranceway.

oversized sweets made from Scrapstore materials

Having scoured Pinterest (of course!) for other decoration ideas I stole this idea for balloon lollipops. They were wrapped in cellophane (some scoured from the scrapstore, other sheets left over from floral bouquets) and then attached to the inner tubes of wrapping paper:

Not pictured is the purple bunting that I picked up from the rubbish bin at Cock and Bull festival last weekend. Having given it a good wash and iron it was as good as new.

We also used the bag of Scrapstore materials, and other ‘junk’ to make a couple of party games. Imagine our delight at finding the sheet of gold card, which was perfect to turn into golden tickets for both a treasure hunt, and party thank you notes.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: golden ticket game

I also used my ‘art’ skills to recreate this Willy Wonka for party guests to pin the hat on (apologies to Quentin Blake!):

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory party

The Scrapstore also supplied us with a craft set as a prize for pass the parcel:

Wiltshire Scrapstore craft set

Finally, as I may have ranted on about before I HATE party bags and all the plastic tat and waste that they create. I haven’t given out party bags for years and, instead, tend to hand out birthday cake and a craft item that the children have made during the party. This time I scoured local charity shops for second-hand Roald Dahl books. These were wrapped in the plain brown paper from an Amazon delivery, and a golden ticket thank you and small bar of chocolate was attached.

The party was small scale but everyone seemed to have fun. We’ve also got loads of scrapstore materials left over which will keep us all occupied over the summer – and I’m sure provide decorations for the next birthday party in our household.

 

 

 

second hand books as party thank yous

Sofa Saga Part Two

You may remember that last month we hastily got rid of our sofas, in the anticipation of having two new (to us) sofas delivered to us. However the sofas (from the British Heart Foundation furniture shop) couldn’t fit through the low doorframe. For the past three weeks we have been, literally, camping out in our lounge with camping chairs and a single armchair.

However last week our new sofa was delivered, courtesy of another second-hand furniture shop called Waste Not Want Not in Chippenham. I blogged about this charity ages ago when setting up the Repair Cafe. They delivered the sofa very easily and we are really impressed with it.

There is a stain on one of the arms which I will try to clean using one of the many methods I have seen on Pinterest. Failing that we may purchase a sofa cover to protect it.

New (to us) sofa

 

It’s just so nice to be able to sit in a sofa again – although I have to say it was a lot easier hoovering the floor without one!

Second-hand Halloween

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We are currently enjoying the half term holidays here: ten days off school filled with playing, making and exploring. I always enjoy the October half term as the weather can  be good, local attractions and museums are still open for us to explore with our visitor pass, and there’s Halloween at the end. Over the past 24 hours we have been getting ready for Friday evening and adding a few second-hand touches:

Picking up Trick or Treat buckets from Oxfam shop:

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We picked these up for 49p each. I know they’re made of plastic but at least we will be re-using them.

In turn I also sorted through our existing Halloween costumes and donated a couple through our local ‘Free, For Sale or Swap’ facebook page.

Decorating the house with Spooky Scrapstore

Last year we paid a trip to our local scrapstore and picked up some Halloween craft sets and other props. The black netting has proved to be a great buy from the scrapstore. I’m not sure what it’s original purpose was but it has served as a Pirate’s fishing net and, now, enormous spider’s web.

Making Halloween Treats

So I confess I have bought wrapped sweets to give out to Trick or Treaters but my six year old has also made a few cupcakes decorated with ‘blood’ icing:

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Making home-made costumes

We do have our share of cheap supermarket costumes, kindly given by grandparents, but I always prefer home-made outfits. However as the girls get older they want more choice in their Halloween clothing. This year two of them are adapting their own old clothes for a ‘Zombie’ look. I had intended to re-use part of our old tent to make a ghost outfit but I have no takers (unless I wear it that is!).

Second-hand pumpkins?

We’ve been busy carving our pumpkins and this year I do intend to save the flesh – and maybe seeds – to make some Autumnal soup. It’s so much easier to throw the scraps away, and I do wonder how good the the taste of mass produced pumpkins are.

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Green Halloween

I don’t want to go on about how Halloween has become more commercialised since I was a kid. I have to say I really enjoy this time of year. Trick or Treating is great fun where we live: it’s gentle, family friendly and over by 8 o’clock. BUT there is also a lot of waste and every year I wonder how I can make it greener for my family. There is a great movement in the US called Green Halloween.They organise national costume swap days and come up with ideas for healthier, less wasteful treats [at present it looks like their website is under reconstruction but they’re still worth a look]. Maybe this is something I should look into for next year and try to encourage a more second-hand spin to the festivities.

 

 

 

 

 

Do you give second-hand presents?

As an advocate of all things second-hand is it fair that I should give my friends pre-loved gifts too? I recently purchased this  book through the charity book buying site: Green Metropolis.

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It was on the recommendation of blogger Silver Bells and I was delighted to find a copy to give to my friend for her birthday. We usually buy each other books and I know she’ll love the story. I had been about to buy a copy on Amazon but when Green Metropolis was recommended I decided to purchase from the site. As it mentions in the accompanying gift slip:

“Your gift was purchased from GreenMetropolis.com, a company dedicated to turning read books green by encouraging its members to recycle their books…”

My purchase also included a small donation to the Dogs Trust. There are a number of charities that sellers on the site can choose to donate some of their sales to.

I still feel slightly tight as the book cost less than a full price, brand new one. But my friend is  environmentally conscious and I know she will appreciate the charitable donation, and re-usability of the gift (I hope).

In the past my second-hand present buying has been limited to my daughters (a few charity shop books at Christmas) and my husband (see here for the vinyl spin on this year’s birthday present)

However I’m still unsure what the majority of my friends and family would think if I started shopping for their birthdays exclusively at second-hand shops.

Over the past few years I have bought the Oxfam Unwrapped gift cards (especially for all the 40th and 50th birthday parties I seem to be going to at the moment).  I find these are the easiest things to get when I don’t want to give the birthday boy/girl yet another unwanted ornament.

I also keep a shelf of unopened and unused presents which my daughters have received. They do get a lot of presents from family and friends and there’s only so many craft sets a child can use. Again, I feel rather mean re-gifting these but they can also solve the last minute party present crisis.

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So I’m still undecided about second-hand presents. I will see what my friend’s reaction is when she opens her gift this weekend.

What about you? Do you give second-hand, or ‘re-gift’ unwanted presents?