Holiday Crafts on a Budget

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Andy Williams sings it best: It’s the most wonderful time of the year.

Along with marshmallows for toasting, there are parties for hosting. Families and friends are getting together for some serious celebrating, fires are roaring, snow is falling, and we can’t help but want to pull out all the stops for a beautiful season.

Even though you’re probably chomping at the bit for your next fete, there’s no denying that this is also a tough time of year on the pocketbook.

We promise the crafts below will not only perk up your holiday spirit and dress up your home, but also save you a few bucks in the process because they all use something you’re sure to have hanging out in your recycling bin: plastic bottles.

For Your Door

plastic bottle wreath by michele Pacey

This wreath and its painted version put a fresh twist on typical holiday decor. Photo: Michele Pacey

Craft blogger Michele Pacey dreamed up this ethereal wreath after a contest with her readers where words (for which she’d have to make a craft to match) were submitted.

This wreath was based off of the word “breath,” which eventually led Pacey to plastic bottles. Along with her sons, she hunted around the neighborhood and recovered littered bottles to turn the trash into a relative holiday treat.

What you’ll need:

  • Approximately 13 clear plastic water or soda bottles
  • Scissors
  • Packing tape
  • Hot glue gun

Check out her easy instructions on how to create this look. She even modified the wreath afterward by painting it so the details really stood out. We love her plastic bottle Christmas tree ornament as well!

For Your Ceiling

snowflakes from plastic bottles by Fantastic Recycled Plastic David Edgar

These snowflakes are made from an empty bleach bottle and can be hung from your ceiling in any pattern. Photo: Sterling Publishing Co, Inc.

Husband-and-wife team David and Robin Edgar’s new book, Fantastic Recycled Plastic, brings plastic crafting to a whole new level using everyday items like detergent bottles, yogurt containers and the like.

“There was a holiday time when rather than buying decorations, we would string popcorn and make colored paper chains to dress up the house,” says David Edgar, the artist behind the book’s designs. “These homemade decorations are a cool way to repurpose recyclable plastic packaging and have some old fashioned family fun. Just like in the days before the digital revolution.”

The authors were kind enough to share this lovely snowflake project from the book with Earth911’s readers.

How to make it:

  1. Cut four strips of white plastic, about 1⁄2 to 1 inch wide and about 8 inches long, from around the barrel section of a bleach bottle.
  2. Punch a 1/8-inch hole near the center of each strip, and trim the ends of each strip to a taper. Note: You can also detail the ends of the strips with pinking shears and various-shaped punches for a more decorative effect.
  3. Cut a piece of monofilament, about 10 inches long, and tie a small loop in each end to serve as a hanger.
  4. Assemble your piece on a pop rivet with one of the loops sandwiched in the middle.
  5. Alternate the orientation of the curve of each of the four plastic strips to give the piece good dimension.

The snowflakes can hang in fun configurations from your ceiling to make it feel like a light snow, right inside your home. Fantastic Recycled Plastic also contains other holiday projects such as doves, garland and a lovely wreath design.

For Your Walkway

This beautiful ice luminary project may not directly reuse plastic bottles, but they make great forms for shaping them. Instructions for how to make ice luminaries are easy to come by online, but this particular project was created by Kate Spurrell of Katopia Design. According to Spurrell, the gist of making the luminaries is to fill a larger container partially with water, then place a smaller container inside to displace the water (creating the area for your candle).

ice luminaries by kate spurrell

Ice luminaries are a lovely way to light your front yard as guests arrive. Photo: Kate Spurrell, Katopia Designs

What you’ll need:

  • Larger water or soda bottles – as many as you plan on creating
  • The same number of smaller, cylindrical containers like an empty medicine bottle
  • At least one set of chopsticks for each luminary
  • Small rocks or other weights
  • Packing tape
  • Cranberries, pine cones, leaves, etc.

How to make it:

  1. Cut the top half off of your bottles and fill them with water approximately half-way or so.
  2. If you want your luminaries to be thick with ice on all sides (you have the option of leaving the bottom open), you must center and suspend your smaller container. To do so, Spurrell filled the smaller container with rocks “just enough so it wasn’t floating too high, but it wasn’t sinking either.”
  3. To keep the suspended container centered, she taped chopsticks to the smaller containers and the edge of the larger container. “This was just the extra bit of stabilization needed to make it work!”
  4. Place any decorative items such as berries, leaves or twigs inside the water as you wish.
  5. Allow your luminaries to freeze overnight outside or in the freezer, depending on your climate.
  6. When you’re ready to use the luminaries, place the larger bottle into warm water to lightly melt and loosen the ice inside. Once you have removed the larger bottle, fill the smaller container with warm water and repeat.

For Your Walls

Plastic bottle star garland from Esprit Cabane

Cheery garland adds easy elegance to your party decor. Photo: en.espritcabane.com

Parlez-vous français? French magazine Esprit Cabane‘s online edition rocks some great green craft ideas that are conveniently translated into English, so go ahead and put your French dictionary aside for now.

“These transparent decorations reflect light from every direction and make eye-catching beaded garlands or hanging decorations suspended from a bit of wire,” the website reads. While these stars and snowflakes can be made into ornaments, we love the garland style for a simple and fun way to dress up your interior.

What you’ll need:

  • Eight plastic bottles
  • A serrated knife
  • Scissors
  • Needle or hole-puncher
  • A long piece of string with additional shorter pieces
  • Clear Beads

These are enough materials for five stars and two snowflakes. Without having tried the project, it looks like larger bottles (perhaps 32 ounces in size) would work nicely here. The instructions for this lovely garland look simple and easy to follow. Enjoy!

Plastic bottle bird feeder by favecrafts

Feed the birds with this sweet and welcoming project. Photo: Courtesy of Favecrafts.com

For Your Backyard

It’s chilly outside, and the wildlife in your neighborhood could probably use a quick break and a snack while staying warm. This cute feeder will be sure to bring in some lovely birds for watching outside your wintry window, while also repurposing a bottle, cardboard, clothespins, bark and more.

Designed by Heidi Borchers and posted on the great craft site, Favecrafts, this project’s instructions may look complex, but the step-by-step guide will make it a snap.

The instructions also provide patterns for the roof and the cute window design to save you time and make the project easier. Make sure you plan ahead and give yourself enough time for the various drying stages that the feeder requires, and don’t forget the bird seed!

Related articles
10 Items to Dress Up Your Dinner Party
Earth911′s 2010 Holiday Gift Guide
Why You Can’t Ignore Plastics Recycling

Earth911 partners with many industries, manufacturers and organizations to support its Recycling Directory, the largest in the nation, which is provided to consumers at no cost. The International Bottled Water is one of these partners. Visit our Plastic Bottle Recycling section to learn more.

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