40 Awesome Upcycling Ideas for Your Post-Holiday Garbage

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Your post-holiday home may look like it has been ransacked by the Grinch. After the last present has been opened and the last family member has left, your parting gift is an enormous mess that will not only take hours to clean, but also end up adding more unneeded waste to the environment. This year, while cleaning your home, consider doing your part in keeping the Earth clean as well. By upcycling, the converting of waste materials into newer and better materials, you can become one less family that's piling an excess of garbage curbside — plus it gives you something fun to do during your holiday downtime. Check out the following upcycling ideas and turn your trash into treasure.

Wrapping Paper

You'll be surprised by the usefulness of wrapping paper, which can be converted into a variety of new and fun items.

  1. Wreath: Construct a wreath to display during the next holiday season or make one that's fit for year-round events such as parties or showers.
  2. Star Paper Topiary: A beautiful topiary can become a centerpiece of your holiday decorations for years to come.
  3. Candle Wrap: Make your candles more eye-catching by wrapping them with appealing wrapping paper that's still in good condition.
  4. 3D Paper Snowflake: Winter is far from over, so add to the seasonal decorations by creating some 3D paper snowflakes.
  5. Ornaments: If done right, you'll have some pretty homemade ornaments to add to your future Christmas trees.
  6. Origami: You can make an origami wrapping paper ornament, or search for other creative origami projects.
  7. Bow: Your wrapping paper that hasn't been completely torn up can be turned into beautiful bows that can be used during birthdays and future Christmases.
  8. Confetti: Package future gifts and gift baskets, such as Easter baskets, with colorful confetti. You just need scissors or a paper shredder.
  9. Thank You Card: After you're finished unwrapping your presents, use the wrapping paper to construct handmade thank you cards.
  10. Scrapbooking: The appropriate wrapping paper can add a nice decorative touch to your scrapbook. For example, it would make a great frame for your Christmas photos.
  11. Picture Frame Mat Cover: A great way to enhance the look of your framed pictures while preventing the glass from resting directly on your photos. (PDF link)
  12. Textbook Cover: Large pieces of seemingly unused wrapping paper can serve as appealing textbook covers.
  13. Paper Dolls: Wrapping paper and ribbon make cute clothes for paper dolls. A fun project for your kids while school is out.
  14. Paper Bead Necklace: Another activity to do with your kids, especially if you have a bored little girl.
  15. Craft Box: Wrap and decorate boxes in which you keep general crafts or holiday decorations.
  16. Reuse It: Carefully unwrap your presents on Christmas morning and use the paper to pre-wrap smaller boxes for future Christmases. A simple and obvious way to reduce your garbage output.

Christmas Cards

Enhance those Christmas cards you've been receiving from distant relatives and faraway friends and reuse them during future holidays.

  1. Ornaments: Old cards can be made into new ornaments by adding crochet edges.
  2. Improved Christmas Card: Follow a few simple steps to make your favorite card into an even better one.
  3. Mail Cards to St. Jude's Ranch for Children: Don't care for crafts? St. Jude's Recycled Card Program will gladly accept your old cards in order to turn them into new ones for next season.
  4. Gift Tags: You don't have to continue purchasing and repurchasing gift tags. Simply alter your cards and the resulting tags will more eye-catching.
  5. Holiday-Themed Placemat: Prepare to set next year's table by using this year's card to compose unique holiday-themed placemats.
  6. Christmas Card Luminaries: Another excellent craft project with a surprisingly beautiful payoff.
  7. 3D Card Star: If you have several cards to spare, then build a 3D card star. The finished product is deserving of tree-topper status.
  8. Christmas Card Box: Grab two or three cards and construct a box in which you can store future greeting cards, jewelry, candy or whatever you prefer.

Tin Cans

Holiday cooking can result in the accumulation of numerous tin cans — all of which can be used for more than just storing food. Who knew?

  1. Herb Garden: After making green bean casserole, save the tin that held the veggie and transform it into an herb garden during the following days.
  2. Lantern: A well-made lantern can provide an artistic touch to your backyard.
  3. Candle Holder: Tin can candle holders are easy to construct and if they're done right, they can be more aesthetically pleasing than typical candle holders.
  4. Easter Basket: Prepare for Easter early by making your larger tin cans into smaller Easter baskets.
  5. Wall Organizer: Compile several tin cans can screw them into the wall; the result is a convenient knick-knack organizer.
  6. Dog Robot: Your kids will love your handmade tin can dog robot, which can be walked around the house and — shown off — with a leash.

Wine Bottles

Christmas and New Year's bring out the drinkers in all of us, but it's never a good idea to get too wasted. Instead, make those wine bottles into something useful when you're sober. You can also use beer or liquor bottles for some projects.

  1. Plant Nanny: Your indoor plants will never go thirsty in the presence of wine bottle plant nannies.
  2. Vase: If you have a wine bottle, bottle cutter, goggles, a candle and ice, then you can construct an appealing vase.
  3. Hummingbird Feeder: A wine bottle hummingbird feeder is easy to make, visually appealing and will enhance the outdoor feel of your home.
  4. Lamp: Surprisingly elegant-looking, wine bottle lamps make nice decorative pieces.
  5. Chandelier: Have time? Do it big by making a folksy chandelier out of as many wine bottles as you'd like — 11 were used in this how-to.

Miscellaneous Garbage

From your Christmas tree to toilet paper rolls, you can upcycle just about anything in your home.

  1. Christmas Tree Bird Buffet: If you own a big chunk of land or simply have a big backyard where lots of birds hang out, place your tree in a strategic location and adorn it with bird food.
  2. Christmas Tree Jewelry Stand: Utilize those still-sturdy branches that were previously decorated with ornaments by hanging your favorite jewelry from them.
  3. Jar Lid Gift Tags: When you run out of cards to modify into gift tags, use leftover jar lids.
  4. Cardboard Hipster Frames: Your leftover boxes can be made into picture frames that hold your most precious memories from the holidays.
  5. Napkin Ring Ornaments: Lots of guests means lots of extra toilet paper rolls, so put them to use by transforming them into decorative napkin rings. Yet another way to prepare super early for the next holiday season.
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