If you’re looking to reduce waste and save some money on your Thanksgiving decor, what better way to pull it off than by decorating with trash? To help you deck your halls the eco way, Earth911 rounded up these five creative decor ideas made from waste items and a few natural materials you probably already have around your house.
1. Simple Thanksgiving Candleholders
This easy-to-assemble candleholder idea makes a beautiful Thanksgiving mantle arrangement.
1. To start, gather all the clear glass bottles you have in the recycling bin, take off the labels, and be sure they are clean and dry. I find that a great way to remove any stubborn label adhesive is to make a paste of soap, baking soda, and warm water. Rub your paste onto the stubborn spot and rinse with warm water. It’s worked for me on the toughest of adhesives.
2. Next, fill your jars with dried beans, rice, and spices from your cupboard, or small pine cones, rocks, or acorns from your yard.
3. Then, get candles that match your Thanksgiving table decorations and are appropriately sized for each bottle (or jar). We suggest using beeswax candles instead of those petroleum-based paraffin candles for healthier indoor air quality.
Once they’re completed, you could wrap twine around the necks of the bottles to add interest.
2. Adorable Thanksgiving Napkin Holders
This Thanksgiving craft is a fun way for your kiddos to get involved with creating a beautiful table setting.
1. First, get toilet paper or paper towel tubes from the recycling bin. While you’re there, grab some magazines and newspapers.
2. Cut the cardboard tubes into rings. We made ours about 2 inches thick.
3. Then punch out shapes from your magazines or newspapers. If you don’t have punches, have your kids cut out small shapes (circles, squares, leaves, etc.).
4. Next, begin to glue your shapes to the tubes.
5. When that is completed, paint your napkin holders with a thin coat of paint. By painting them all one color, you are making them uniform, but you also want to allow the patterns and shapes to show through. We chose a metallic gold because that color is complementary to our Thanksgiving table. You’ll have to paint one side, then let it dry, turn it over and paint the other side.
This was such a fun craft that we made more than we needed for our Thanksgiving gathering, so we decided to incorporate the leftovers into the next craft.
3. Fun Thanksgiving Garland
Using our extra Thanksgiving rings we had from the above project, we made a fun Thanksgiving garland.
To do this, we strung the rings onto a string of twine and gathered some small freshly pruned branches (that were headed for the compost bin) to add to the garland. You could use ribbon or yarn as the base of your garland, whatever you have around the house. You could also add pine cones, acorns, evergreens, and so on. You could create a fun nature scavenger hunt for your kiddos to find materials from outdoors that would fill out your Thanksgiving garland. And it makes a fun, natural addition to your Thanksgiving decorations.
4. DIY Thanksgiving Leaf Candle
Here’s another project that can start in the recycling bin. Look in the bin for a wide-mouthed glass jar, like a pickle, sauce, or jam jar. I used a candle in a glass jar I had received years ago as a gift and had never used. Make sure you remove the label and clean your jar. Next, either scavenge for fall leaves in the yard or cut out leaf shapes from newspaper or an unused book. Then Mod Podge the leaves onto your jar. If you’re using real leaves, the Mod Podge will act as a sealant so your leaves will look beautiful year after year.
When you’ve finished gluing your leaves onto your jar, let it dry completely. Then pop a candle (either real or electric) inside your jar, and you have a beautiful addition to your Thanksgiving table.
Want another candle idea? Check out these adorable Fall Colors Jar Candles.
5. Easy DIY Fall Thanksgiving Wreath
Here’s a wonderful way to reuse paper, magazines, or pages from an old book and turn them into a beautiful Thanksgiving wreath.
Head on over to Make Life Lovely for the complete tutorial on how to make this easy paper wreath.
These are just a few ways to reuse items that might have made their way to your local landfill.
“When you rise in the morning, give thanks for the light, for your life, for your strength. Give thanks for your food and for the joy of living. If you see no reason to give thanks, the fault lies in yourself.” —Tecumseh
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Originally published on November 17, 2017, this article was updated in November 2020.