As Christmas decorations come down, there are always items that are broken, torn, or simply otherwise trash. Figuring out how to recycle Christmas trash and finding new ways to re-purpose it can be difficult, but there are several crafts that you can do yourself or with your children to give that trash a second life.
As the twelve days of Christmas come to a close, many families around the world will be putting holiday items in storage this weekend and by January 6th. Maybe you have leftover tubes from wrapping paper, the inevitably torn gift bag, or lots of boxes that are just too cumbersome to keep all of them.
Unique ways to have a green holiday & Recycle Christmas Trash!
I adore finding ways to cut down our consumption. And wouldn’t it be amazing to have a zero waste Christmas?! I don’t think it’s entirely impossible. So here are some really fun ways to reduce your impact after Christmas is said and done.
It has been said that a box is more fun than any “real” toy ever was. I know that my daughter would love to stand on boxes just to see the world from a little bit higher or crawl inside just to hide away for a bit.
Beyond open-ended box play, there are several crafts you can do to make your boxes a highly-desired toy for your children.
We have been using some old boxes (including pizzas boxes) as a sturdy surface to paint with really watery paint. This last time, we used tea bags to paint and our cardboard box was an awesome surface.
- Practice hand-eye coordination and gross motor play by setting up old boxes on stairs or across the living room like can be seen here at Little Bins for Little Hands.
- I love the idea of making little animals and monsters out of boxes. In fact, The Educator’s Spin on it has inspired me to make a penguin box for tot school!
- Use your boxes to extend books into the craft world. Make your boxes into characters and vehicles from books you read like the Good Long Road mentions!
- Happy Hooligans made this awesome dropbox that has entertained her children for years. The best part is not that she used an upcycle box, but that the entire toy is self-contained because the pieces can be stored inside of the box!
- Red Ted Art made a really creative shield out old boxes and decorated it to make it a part of their dress up and play time!
- Mama Smiles has a LOT more ideas to give those boxes many more lives.
Thin Gifts Boxes
Because thin gift boxes like the ones for clothing can get easily torn are even more versatile! They can go either way (box or card stock) so you can use them to support a paper project or for heavy paint projects. When my toddler paints, we always use heavy card stock because she just doesn’t know when to stop globbing paint on her toddler art.
- We will be having a little tea party and decorate by making a tiny flag banner like this one at Hugo and Mathilda.
- Use it as a canvas for our finger paint projects.
- Even make your own DIY bean maze!
Tissue Paper/Bubble Wrap
I reuse tissue paper over and over again in gifts as long as it hasn’t been torn. In fact, my aunt teased me at my wedding shower that she was folding tissue paper when I could buy it pretty cheap. BUT, I have yet to buy any in all these years. The moment it does get torn, there are still lots of options beyond just tossing it in the trash.
- This post from Sugar Aunts inspired us to work on fine motor skills with old tissue paper and bubble wrap by stuff paper in bottles or simply popping bubbles.
- I love the idea of making your own paper our of used paper and torn tissue or torn pieces of tissue with contact paper on the windows to make sun catcher art like Mama Smiles has done!
Christmas cards are many times those things that are pretty to look at and you are thankful you got them from someone that cares about you… but what do you do with them afterwards? For us, we have cut out pictures of friends and family from the customized ones and put them in Eye Spy Bags & even played some matching games with them (which people “go together”?)
- You can make some cute hanging geometric shapes out of them like found at the Chaos and the Clutter.
- Mama Smiles has a great idea to make some quick and easy puzzles from holiday cards and pictures. It means you will suddenly have a lot more puzzles and they can go in busy bags and if pieces get lost, you’re not out of pocket.
Cardboard Tubes/Wrapping Paper Tubes
Gift Wrap tubes are the best of all cardboard tubes because they are so long, they can be cut to be in varying sizes.
- Use different size tubes like PlayDrMom did to make this cardboard tube castle.
- Create little people out of your cardboard tubes! You can even encourage your children to design them to look like their friends like seen here at Inheriting Our Planet.
Gift Bags and Used Wrapping Paper
Though many times, we toss out wrapping paper without a second thought, sometimes, wrapping paper can be saved for gifts in years to come. (You there’s always someone who doesn’t rip, but carefully opens). Beyond that, there are crafts and activities to use it up without just trashing it!
- Work on motor skills by letting babies, toddlers, kids rip it up into small pieces. (Make confetti out of it)
- For any of the torn wrapping paper that got used, we plan on making some fun art projects out of all of it! I love this idea from Hugo and Mathilda to make a collage. I think this would also work very well with torn tissue paper.
- Make some pretty paper heart art for Valentine’s Day with your Christmas paper like these hearts at the Good Long Road!
So as you are taking down decorations, how do you plan to recycle Christmas trash?
Kara is an author, wife, and mother of 3 children living in Boston, MA. She has her degree in Secondary Education & Adolescent Childhood Development and is passionate about connecting with and even helping other parents on their journey to raise awesome kids!