10 Christmas Decorations You Can Easily Make From Recycled Materials

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Christmas is approaching fast, and as well as choosing gifts for your loved ones, it is time to turn our minds towards decorating for the festive season. Here are 10 ideas for DIY decorations to brighten up your home this Christmas.

Making your own decorations not only saves money and cuts out pointless waste, but is a great way to do something creative. Whether you are making your own Christmas tree decorations with your family, or setting up for your very own geeky extravaganza, this article should give you a few ideas to get you going!

1. Recycled Christmas Card Bunting

Every year after Christmas, many houses are left with a huge wealth of Christmas cards. While they were perfect to display around the home during the season (especially if they were custom designed for you), most of these cards end up in the bin shortly after festivities end.

Our first DIY project is a simple one which makes use of old cards, turning them into colourful bunting to brighten up your living space.

Image Credit: Emily Peckenham @ inhabitat.com

This project from Emily Peckenham on inhabitat.com requires nothing more than some string and a stack of old cards — the more colourful the better! They are so quick and easy to make that it could be easy to go crazy and cover your whole house, your pets, and your children with it.

2. Mason Jar Snow Globes

The much underappreciated snow globe is a great decoration for your home and even your computer desktop. By making your own DIY version you can switch up the contents for different times of the year! The snow globes in the link above are of course Christmas themed, and there are several ideas there to kick-start the creative process. For a more in depth view of how to make a mason jar snow globe, check out this guide from the Live Your Style YouTube channel:

The inside of your snow globe can comprise of anything, old Christmas decorations, tree branches, holly from the garden — the possibilities are endless. As well as looking great, these snow globes provide an interactive child distraction system which can be a much needed commodity during this season.

3. Origami Ornaments

Up next, Origami Christmas decorations. While on the surface that might not sound too inspiring, wait until you see Instructables user sebnibo’s design:

Image Credit: sebnibo @ Instructables.com

This fascinating design consists of only two pieces of paper, and ends up with an incredibly professional looking decoration you can hang from your tree, or use as a focal point on the dinner table. Since this design is made out of paper, there is nothing to stop you using any kind of paper you would otherwise throw out, though make sure it isn’t too flimsy or you may end up with some rather limp stars!

If you are feeling like adding a tech aspect to the build, why not follow sebnibo’s other Instructable to add lights to your origami stars?

Image Credit: sebnibo @ Instructables.com

4. Cork Wreath

Depending on your poison, you may end up with a surplus of wine corks around Christmas or any other day of the year. Instead of chucking them out, collect them for a while and make something out of them!

Image Credit: threesisterz.blogspot.de

This cork wreath combines everything we like, it’s simple, it reuses materials, and it looks good without being too flashy. Having said that — why not make it flashy by adding our Motion Activated LED Matrix project to the center of it?

For a project that only requires a ring made of wood or Styrofoam,a little glue, some patience, and a ribbon, this project sure looks good! For an extra splash of colour you can paint the corks first, or bribe younger family members to do it for you with cookies. The choice is yours.

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Since this is Christmas time, it seems fitting to give a gift. Number 5 on this list is 5 simple projects you can create yourself using basic materials. All of these builds are simple and suitable to do with children under supervision. Check out the video from YouTuber davehax for the details.

All of these projects use things you’ll likely have around the house except from the Styrofoam balls. That does of course depend on your house, owners of a dedicated Styrofoam ball room will be at an advantage here.

6. DIY BB-8

So far we have covered some traditional Christmas decorations, but we all know that the festive season is truly about Star Wars! What better way to adorn your Endorian Soul Tree than with a DIY BB-8 droid?

The above video is taken from an Instructable by inspiretomake, and shows the surprisingly straight forward process required to put it all together. Comprising of just a few baubles and printed templates, the droid can be built in minutes — though people building with children should take care when cutting the parts as a few sharp edges are involved.

If you’re are looking for something more ambitious to build this season, why not build a fully functioning droid?

7. Star Wars Snowflakes

Up now, Snow Wars! Star Flakes? Lets just call them War Flarks. Either way, for the past few years designer Anthony Herrera has been offering templates for Star Wars themed snow flakes on his website. The templates are free to download as PDF files, and are utterly stunning.

There really is a wealth of designs to choose from, encompassing every major character and vehicle in the series, along with a few less obvious choices which will cause any true Star Wars fan to make involuntary noises.

Once you have the template of your choice downloaded, you can apply it to any material you choose, and make Star Wars tree decorations, window decorations, wall decorations, bunting… basically Star Wars all the things. It’s the only rational thing to do!

8. 8-Bit Baubles

For number 8 we are going 8-bit! These baubles bring Christmas down to a level of pixilation we understand, and look fantastic too. They are the creation of Kat and Cam of the ourNERDhome blog, and the design they have come up with is as eye catching as it is colourful.

Image Credit: Kat and Cam @ ournerdhome.com

These retro gaming inspired decorations are made out of foam board and painted with simple hobby craft paint — though a similar effect can be achieved painting on scrap cardboard to make this truly a recycled DIY project. The real kicker in this project is the optional use of a finishing coat on the baubles to make them shine.

9. Mario Star Christmas Tree Topper

Christmas is a great time to enjoy the important people in your life, like everybody’s favourite plumber. This DIY Mario Star is easy to make, and will give the top of your Christmas tree that feeling of invincibility it deserves!

Image Credit: scoochmaroo @ instructables.com

This crafty project is the brain child of Instructables user scoochmaroo, and gives a great effect using simple materials. You could easily switch out the vinyl for scrap material, and you should find you have most of the bits you need to make this around the house. It’s worth adding a 100-300 ohm resistor to the LED circuit if you want you LED to last more than a day or so!

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Sticking with the Mario theme, our final project today is the ubiquitous Coin Box from the Mario series. This video from the Geek & Sundry vlogs YouTube channel takes you through the building process.

Templates for the box design can be found in the video description, and the finished boxes are really impressive. This project uses foam core, but if you do not have any to hand you can use card from packing boxes to the same effect. The finished product in this video has a slot in the top for placing items in the boxes.

A great alternative would be to stash tasty edible goodies inside the boxes and hang them from the tree for your family and guests to break open and eat. Tiny Mario box pinatas? Yes please!

Getting Into the Spirit

These few ideas are a great start to giving you a DIY Christmas with an emphasis on recycling where possible. This list is just a tiny glimpse of the hundreds of fantastic projects out there. As well as getting the perfect gift for your tech savvy family members (and the perfect gift card for the ones that aren’t), give your home the creative process treatment this Christmas. Or, if you’re too full of mince pies, perhaps just take in some Christmas movies instead!

Have you got any plans for your own decorating this year? Are you going to incorporate home made tech into it to give it that extra edge? Let us know your Christmas decorating tips and tricks in the comment section below!

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