With Christmas Day come and gone, getting crafty with leftover decorations and other seasonal items allows families to not only save money, but convert holiday traditions into eco-conscious DIY projects.
There are many unique ideas for repurposing Christmas staples, including holiday greeting cards, string lights and even your dried-out Christmas tree that’s taking up space in the living room. Here are a few simple do-it-yourself projects you or the whole family can take on.
Keep Reading: 5 DIY Sites That Help You Save Big
1. Convert Holiday Cards into Gift Tags
Receiving greeting cards in the mail is always pleasant, but when it comes time to take down these holiday well-wishes from the mantle, it can be difficult to throw such sentimental messages in the trash. Instead of sending holiday cards to take up space in landfills, convert them into next year’s holiday gift tags.
Simply cut out illustrations on the front of the card into shapes like Christmas trees, doves, stars and other holiday-themed silhouettes. If you have construction paper and glue handy, you can get even more creative by gluing on an additional trim or backing for a special DIY touch. Use a single hole-punch and reuse gift ribbon in place of twine. During the holidays, buying a packet of new gift tags can cost about $5, but why deprive your savings account of these funds when you can recycle holiday cards into one-of-a-kind tags?
2. Create a Christmas Tree Garland
Another way to prepare for next year’s holiday festivities ahead of time is to use your cutting and pasting skills for a colorful Christmas tree garland. Instead of wasting money on holiday tinsel and yards of beading to decorate your next Christmas tree, cut holiday greeting cards into strips, link two pieces together and close the ends (make sure the card’s text and images are facing out). The end result should form a long holiday linked garland to coil around the tree next season.
Related: 11 Things You Should Never Rent
3. Cut Out Sturdy Coasters
Your Christmas tree still has a lot of life left, even after the holidays pass. Essentially, you have raw material to work with for endless DIY projects, like a new set of rustic coasters. Many crafty sellers on DIY sites like Etsy.com sell these genius products for a premium of $10 for a set of 4 wooden coasters.
Reproducing the look is simple by taking a saw to the bottom of your tree’s trunk and cutting off 1″ disks. Before using it to hold beverages, sand down the front, back and edges to avoid being pricked by splinters. If you have wood stain available in the depths of your garage, brush on a few coats on the top of the disks for a more finished look.
4. DIY Bird Feeder
A way to give back to nature with a used Christmas tree is to convert it into a do-it-yourself bird sanctuary and feeder. During the winter months, the tree branches can be a welcomed relief for birds looking to shield themselves from harsh weather.
To set up your DIY bird refuge, simply transport the tree to the backyard and secure it in an upright position against a fence or tree. Make sure that all tinsel, hooks and ornaments are removed, then replace with bird-friendly treats like popcorn strings and bird seed medallions. In addition to protecting the native wildlife from the changing seasons, you can bird-watch in the comfort of your own home without spending an extra penny.
5. Year-Round Lighting
Christmas lights are a versatile way to illuminate more than just your tree for the holidays. When used with a bit of ingenuity these twinkling lights easily convert into sophisticated — and affordable — lighting for future events.
Some creative cuts to an egg carton easily turns into an elegant floral blossom. Paint individual flowers your desired color (pink for Easter, for example) and slip them over the bulb. A similar concept as the one pictured runs as much as $20 when purchased from a retailer — with DIY projects like these, you enjoy unique lighting arrangements for free.