Who’s up for making some eco-friendly Christmas decoration? Christmas is a time of indulgence. Too much food and drink, too many gifts and a house full of decoration. Fun times for sure, but every year tons of plastic tinsel end up in landfill, as well as other stuff like broken fairy lights, plastic baubles and other Christmas decoration. Because stuff is so cheap these days, it is very tempting to go to low cost supermarkets and pound/euro/dollar stores and fill your basket with new glittery pieces every year. I’m no saint, I’ve done it too! Because sometimes temptation gets the better of you and you think, nevermind, it won’t make much of a difference if it’s just me doing it. But it does.
Five DIY alternatives to tinsel
Today I am suggesting some alternative, fun and in most cases far more durable alternatives to plastic tinsel. Let’s get making! No time or skills or too much faff ? Find decorations at your local craft fairs or have a browse on Etsy.
1. Paper Christmas decoration
Last year’s Christmas cards cut into circles, stars or triangles make great garlands and bunting. Paper chains are easy and fun to make too. Get the kids involved on a rainy Sunday afternoon! Possibilities are endless with paper and an ideal way to kick off your eco-friendly Christmas this year. Keep it really simple or turn it into a more complicated project with folds and creases, or sew the pieces onto a string.
2. Christmas decoration with poms
Oooh…do you remember making these at school? Pom poms are so much fun to make and easy enough for little hands to help too. Use up old wool, or unravel an old scarf or jumper if you really want to go down the upcycling route. Tie them onto a string and create a fabulous home-made alternative to tinsel. Hang them in the tree or use as a garland. Read my other blog post about Christmas pom poms here.
3. Eco-friendly Christmas decoration with pine cones
For a nice minimalist, kind-of Scandi look, go and collect pine cones on your next walk in the woods. Add a bit of silver or white paint to the tips if you like for a nice Christmassy touch.
4. Fabric Christmas bunting
Bunting is easy to sew and fun to create from any scrap fabrics lying around or old clothes. Choose reds and whites to make one in Christmas colours. Another easy idea is to cut triangles out of burlap and just sew the tops to a ribbon to create some home-made bunting. Still more fabric lying around? Make a wreath!
5. Beads and buttons
For more delicate looking decoration for your tree or fireplace, try stringing beads or vintage buttons (or remove them from clothes you no longer wear – you could use the fabric for bunting or a fabric scrap wreath!) on a thread at regular intervals for a ‘necklace’. Reusing your old clothes and buttons is a great way to create eco-friendly Christmas decor.
The plastic problem is still huge and creating big problems in oceans, in landfill and just generally making the earth look very ugly. Still, I am an optimist, and I believe change is coming, not tomorrow maybe, but we are heading in the right direction. People are generally becoming more aware of the ecological impact of especially single use plastic and social media is full of posts showing ideas of how to reduce the use of it in your own household. I am still guilty myself of doing unplanned, spontaneous grocery shopping, subsequently accepting single use carrier bags. I buy coffees on the go in takeaway cups. It is hard to be consistent and strict about these things while they are still constantly offered to us.
Last year India banned all forms of disposable plastic in Delhi. Europe is proposing a ban on single-use plastic items such as cutlery, straws and cotton buds in a bid to clean up the oceans. The legislation is not just about banning plastic products. It also wants to make plastic producers bear the cost of waste management and cleanup efforts, and it proposes that EU states must collect 90% of single-use plastic bottles by 2025 through new recycling programs.
So that’s a bit about where we are at with single use plastic…but what about turning single use carrier bags into something that is usable for much longer, while they are still in existence? I am always in awe of how creative and resourceful humans are around the world. Who knew you could knit and crochet with the stuff?
Plastic bags can be incredibly versatile and turned into very strong yarn for crocheting. When choosing bags for your project, consider color and texture. Select bags that are similar in thickness to create an overall good effect. Combine different coloured bags to create a pattern of colour, colour changes and patterns.
A waste basket…out of waste! I love baskets for all sorts of uses, including toys, craft supplies, hats and gloves at the front door or yes, for paper waste. How cute is this one made out of plastic carrier bags? And even better, no crocheting required.
Want to learn how?
3. Make a rag rug out of plarn
Great for outdoors, at the front door or in the bathroom, rag rugs made out of plastic carrier bags make surprisingly great mats. Here is an upcycling tutorial on how to make them. No crocheting needed.
Today I am going to show you how to make an embroidery hoop chandelier. Create some fabulous decor pieces with embroidery hoops. Super easy, but stunning and they are very decorative both indoors and outdoors. Use them in your home interior or as party decoration. Try them as lampshades or as mobiles suspended from the ceiling of a nursery or other room. Add some fairylights for extra sparkle.
An embroidery hoop chandelier with photos
Super simple idea, but looking great: three wooden embroidery hoops in different sizes, suspended and attached to one another with thin metal wire. Glue small wooden pegs onto the hoops at equal distance. Print off your favourite black and white photos and clip them in place around the hoops.
Of course you can do this with all kinds of paper, they don’t have to be photos. Try vintage postcards or book pages as an alternative.
Create an Embroidery hoop chandelier with ribbons
You can go for the three tiered embroidery hoop chandelier for a real statement piece or keep it simple and start with one hoop. Make just a small hoop or fill a hula hoop with long strips of fabric for more impact – the latter would make a stunning center piece in a wedding or summer partymarquee too. All you need is a large batch of similar length ribbons or strips if fabrics in your favourite colours and tie them to the hoop until the circle is full.
Make an Embroidery hoop mobile with felt and paper
The possibilities are endless. You can literally tie anything to a hoop as long as it is secured and not too heavy! How about saving up those wine bottle corks? Doilies? Tiny glass bottles with fresh flowers? Origami crane birds! Paper flowers, felt balls, feathers, little crocheted animals…you name it.
Hang your embroidery hoop chandelier over the dining table, in a corner of the living room or create something cute for in the nursery. You can even hang the hoop sideways and turn it into a bohemian dream catcher… Here are some more ideas.
Disclaimer: In this post I have included affiliate links to Etsy and Craft and Create who will pay me a small percentage of what you spend if you choose to click on the links and buy craft supplies from them. This of course helps me to keep going as a blogger. Your support is much appreciated!
Are you an artist, musician, designer or otherwise creative person? Then you probably know that feeling, that no matter what stage in life you are at, whatever job you have chosen or lifestyle you are leading, if you have a creative streak in you, it just has to come out or you feel itchy. Still, sometimes you feel the burning desire to create…. but you can’t focus on anything or don’t know where to start. Perhaps you wanted to write that book, become better at playing the piano or continue to paint after you finished a great art course last year. But you didn’t. Another problem many creatives have – and I see you nodding – we all have too many things on the go but none of them are finished. And then there is procrastination. Here are five easy tips to boost your creativity and help you get motivated again!
1. Create a Pinterest Board with 12 projects for a year
Oh, I see you thinking, oh dear Pinterest, the ultimate station of procrastination! Yes, I know, we all spend too much time on it, drooling over interiors, recipes and pretty stuff. But there are some useful pins on there, really and they can boost your creativity. Try creating a brand new board and only pin creative ideas or projects on there that you know you are able to manage and finish. Perhaps a super easy sewing project, a simple printmaking technique you always wanted to try or an idea to upcycle a piece of furniture.
Choose 12 pins and give them a name: ‘Project January’, etc. That way you can focus on one easy creative task each month and you know there is a new one coming the next, which will hopefully give you enough of a drive to complete them. You know that each finished project will give you a great sense of accomplishment, so don’t be over ambitious and pin wisely.
2. Start a creative journal
Draw, stick, paint, collage, collect and write. Journals are wonderful little books to help you to boost your creativity, try out different art techniques and visualise ideas. The nice thing about journals is, is that each page offers a new opportunity, a fresh blank page. There is no right or wrong, it is your personal journal, do what you like. Nothing in your journal has to be of great quality, it is a place to dump your thoughts, your scribbles, stories, mind maps, save cut out images and other items that catch your eye, and it will be a lovely thing to keep. You can refer back to it in the future if you need some inspiration or a reminder of creative ideas or genius brain waves.
I did a wonderful workshop called ‘Creative Sketchbooks’ last year with artist Fenneke Wolters-Sinke at Fenfolio in Scotland, who showed me that you can be truly free in your journals. She taught me how using old illustrated books offer a great basis for multimedia techniques using stamps, paint, scrap paper, fabric and collage techniques among others, with the existing text and pictures making an interesting base layer. Do you have an old illustrated book lying around you no longer use? Give it a go! What is the worst that can happen?
3. Start an Instagram account
Just like a paper journal, Instagram can be your own personal dumping ground for things that catch your eye, by taking snap shots of them and posting them on your Instagram page. You can make it public or keep it private, that is up to you. Perhaps you have a love for textures, or a certain colour. Or maybe you have always wanted to do a photographic series of vintage cars? Of people? Of plants? I recently started another account myself, taking pictures of colourful street art and other things that catch my eye in Valencia (@coloursofvalencia).
Instagram shows all your images in a grid and it can give you a real boost seeing your ideas and images all together, forming an overview of your creative journey. You may find a certain theme emerging. It also encourages you to go out and take plenty of photos. If your account is public you may even get fellow creatives commenting and you could discover some other interesting accounts giving you more ideas in the process.
4. Set up a Mastermind meet-up with other creatives
This is a slightly different idea, which you may or may not like, but could be interesting to try! I have seen it work very well for women in business, who come together once or twice a month for coffee and discuss their challenges, certain topics and things that are perhaps keeping them from moving forward. Many times they end up collaborating, giving each other fresh ideas or pointing each other to contacts in their networks. I don’t see how this could not also work well for people feeling a bit stuck in their creative lives.
You could pick a topic each time or even plan a visit to local galleries to get fresh ideas and boost that creativity. Hook up with two or three creative friends or contacts you know that could benefit from a Mastermind meet-up and get the ball rolling. If anything, you’ll expand or revive your social circle, which can only be a positive thing.
5. boost your creativity by Switching off the internet and mobile phone
Hold on, not just yet! But you get it, right? And yes, I did just encourage you to start a Pinterest board and and Instagram account. Guilty! But we can all admit that we are probably spending way too much time online, wasting an enormous amount of hours scrolling through pointless posts and photos of people we hardly know on our Facebook timeline, chatting on WhatsApp, and doing really not much at all that stimulates our brain, let alone our creativity. It is a worldwide addiction that prevents us from picking up that brush, the neglected guitar or switch on the sewing machine. Even reading a real book.
Let’s all try and break that habit, myself included! Be more mindful, go for a walk to let new ideas flow into your mind. Once the wifi is off, what else is there to do that makes us happy? Yes, plenty! You can start small, by choosing one day or night a week and dedicate this to creating. I promise you, you will be proud of yourself.
Do you have any other tips to boost creativity? Please share them below or on the facebook page. Happy creating!
Almost the end of November. A month until Christmas. Who’s got the decorations out yet? Who loves a bit of minimalist Scandinavian Christmas in their house this year? Now here’s a thought. We can either find our toddlers shattering the pretty sparkly baubles on the floor, the dog eating the tinsel and discover those pesky fairy lights all still tangled up in a bag from last year – and there’s always at least five lights not working – or we leave the box up in the attic and keep it simple. Just a nice tree, a couple of branches, a wreath maybe. More eco-friendly too, especially if you were secretly considering getting a plastic tree this year (you weren’t, were you?). Boring you say? Well, let me show you a few ideas on how to create a beautiful Scandinavian Christmas decor in your home this year. You may like them.
Keep things white (and green)
Leave the gold and red baubles up in the attic this year, and go monochrome. A true Scandinavian Christmas decor has plenty of whites, natural wood and wicker, greenery and simple fairy lights. Group some lanterns together on a table, at the fire place or in the window. Use white or grey sheepskins as throws and rugs for texture and warmth.
Use clear bottles as Christmas decor
Who knew it looks so pretty to drown a little branch in a bottle of water? Gather empty clear bottles in various sizes and use them around the house as decoration. Also nice on your Christmas dinner table with candles.
Create your own Gift wrap with brown paper
Don’t forget the gift wrap in your minimalist Scandinavian Christmas adventures! Cheap rolls of brown paper, string, simple tags and some leaves will make very beautiful, stylish parcels you’ll sure impress the guests with.
Use Eucalyptus as Christmas decoration
Eucalyptus makes for great decorative branches at any time of year, so Christmas is no exception.
Twigs and branches in oversized vases as christmas decor
It’s all about keeping things simple. Find a large big vase or bottle and fill it with a few nice branches of a pine tree or something with red berries on it.
The green wreath
A nice green wreath on the door or indoors is always a winner. Make one yourself or buy one ready made. Remember, less is more to get that Scandinavian Christmas look.
A naked Christmas tree
What, a tree but no baubles? Yup. And a good looking tree doesn’t need any really, or very few. Just a nice big pot or basket and maybe some fairy lights.
It’s the season to feel festive and drink mulled wine. You snuggle up under a blanket, have the fire on and spend time with family. Then it’s also the season to be bombarded with high street consumerism. In addition to that you get stuck in traffic because everyone is queuing up to get to the malls for their Christmas shopping. How about trying something different this year? Here is your Etsy Christmas Gift Guide for gorgeous original gifts.
My family are Dutch and we mainly spend our time eating and drinking at Christmas. Presents are not a big thing (in fact, I was told this year to ab-so-lu-te-ly NOT buy anything for anyone! Can you believe it?). Of course most of you readers will probably want to wrap at least a little thoughtful something for your loved ones on Christmas day. I have therefore put a conscious gift guide together, to support the independent makers rather than the big corporates.
I would always promote buying or receiving gifts that are useful, beautiful or well made. Etsy has been my go-to site for this kind of thing for years now. I love the fact that by shopping on Etsy you support small businesses and artists, in your own town (check out if your city has a local Etsy market!) or internationally. By buying from them, you make a a hard working designer-maker extremely happy!
Handwritten thank you cards
I love the added bonus that Etsy items often come lovingly wrapped with a handwritten thank you note included. It is also a great place to find items that feel good to give, i.e. not made from plastic, which is what we should all aim for in the end really (and it gives me hope that there is obviously a growing demand for this sort of thing!). I hope you like my picks in my Etsy Christmas Gift Guide. What are you giving your loved ones this Christmas? (Or are you going Dutch this year?)
gifts For the book worm
gifts For the one wearing a shirt
gifts For the design conscious
gifts For the vegan (or anyone else who loves a good bag)
Every year it’s the same issue. What to buy the kids this Christmas? This blog post gives you some ideas for guilt-free, eco-friendly gifts for children.
We all love Christmas and we all love to give each other something nice. Most of us love a bit of festive shopping, especially when the towns and shops are so beautifully decorated. Children get all excited about Christmas long before autumn and hand you a list of stuff they want from Santa. Now I have two boys who love all sorts of plastic rubbish, including transformer toys, anything with wheels on and of course, Lego. Lego I have a love-hate relationship with, as it kind of keeps its value and gets passed on most of the time once they grow out of it. It will still end up on landfill at some point.
We can’t really get away from the Christmas shopping and we don’t want to see sad little faces because there’s no boxes to open. Therefore I thought I’d give you some ideas for your shopping list as alternatives to the usual gifts. It’s hard getting away from plastic completely, but we can at least try.
To get us started, I put this handy list together:
Did that get you thinking? There are so many things you could give instead of more ‘stuff’, to both children and adults. Below I have listed my Top Five of guilt-free, non-plastic eco-friendly Christmas gifts.
1. eco-friendly christmas gifts: Framed posters and prints
Posters! Made of paper! Amazing! Get your kid a poster for their bedroom of their favourite superhero, movie star or cartoon this year without any guilt. A world map is also a great idea if you prefer something more educational. GB Posters is a useful site to find a good selection of different posters plus they offer very affordable frames in all sizes.
2. eco-friendly christmas gifts: Wooden toys
Wooden toys are great for little hands that break stuff constantly. We have several wooden trucks and other toys in our house and I must say, they are all still in one piece – unlike many of the plastic equivalents. They are worth investing in and they make great hand-me-down gifts too in the future. These cute personalised trucks can be found on Etsy.
Or how about this adorable wooden toy food set? Also found on Etsy.
3. A personalised book – great for the older child
I often make personalised photo albums or calendars for family members and made an ABC book (in Dutch) to help my eldest son start reading, featuring lots of family photos. Everyone loves being loved and a thoughtful gift is worth more than all the plastic rubbish in the world. I stumbled across The Book of Everyone, maybe you have heard of them, which helps you create a beautiful personalised book for a loved one. I especially like the idea of making one for pre-teens/teenagers, which the site says will be “packed full of smile-inducing wise(ish) words personalised by you. Because your words might just help them make better mistakes”.
4. eco-friendly christmas gifts: Stuff to draw on
I found this amazingly beautiful online store Smallable, with gorgeous high quality toys, clothes and other stuff for kids and the home. Worth a browse. Anyway, I selected these draw-on placemats, which I think are an excellent idea for those kids who are bored waiting for their dinner or just want something to colour in. Oh, and they are of course made of paper…can go straight in the recycle bin once finished (unless your children are true Picassos, then you might want to frame them of course).
For more eco friendly toys on the Smallable website, have a look here: Eco Friendly Toys
5. eco-friendly christmas gifts: Sew a costume!
I know, I know, time is not always on our hands to get these amazing Pinterest projects realised. We’re not all talented or crafty enough to make stuff look beautiful. But if your child loves dressing up, a beautiful handmade dinosaur tail must be right up there in the Top 3 of awesome eco-friendly Christmas gifts! Go on, get that sewing machine out 😉 Plenty of tutorials on Pinterest. If you are really not the DIY person but still love the idea of a handmade costume, go and support someone who hand makes and sells them on Etsy. That way you make another person happy.
Bonus tip: Life skills!
Swimming lessons, judo, music tuition, a membership to the climbing wall or local gym, it’s all rather pricey when you add it up. Do they want do do or join something really badly? Why not give your children their membership or lessons at Christmas? Other than that it’s a great ‘experience’ gift, rather than more ‘stuff’, it also shows kids that these things are things to value and are not an automatic given throughout the year as part of the daily routines.
I hope this was helpful, I wish you all a jolly good, guilt-free Christmas! Do you have any other ideas for eco-friendly Christmas gifts that are not listed? Feel free to share them for others to see in the comments below 🙂 Thanks! X
It always takes me a little while to get into the Christmas spirit, and I still have one leg in summer really, but hey, if you want that garland finished by December, you got to get your act in gear. Today’s post features some fabulous easy craft projects with pom poms for Christmas! Yes, pom poms, those fluffy colourful woolen balls that you probably made as a child. A fun alternative to your usual decorations. They are super versatile and you can use them as tree baubles (the kids would love them!), on wreaths and even as gift toppers. If you have children, get them involved as it makes a great rainy Sunday afternoon craft project too.
First things first, let’s learn how to make a pom pom – in case you have forgotten. You can use cardboard, a fork or even your fingers, so I am sharing these tutorials with you today.
How to make pom poms
Get some wool! You may have some leftovers in the cupboard, but if not, try Create and Craft, who often have great offers on all kids of craft supplies.
This is the way I learnt it as a kid. The bigger the cardboard circles you cut out, the bigger the pom pom.
Make pom poms using a fork
This is a genius way of making pom poms. No need to cut out cardboard, just use a fork! Watch the video to see how it’s done.
Make a pom pom tree garland
A nice alternative to your plasticky glitter garlands; one made out of wool. This one used paper straws to separate the pom poms, but you can of course just tie the pom poms on a pretty ribbon or a string too.
Make a pom pom tassel
This could either be a tree decoration or something to hang on a wardrobe key or a door knob. Or even your hand bag. Very pretty and so easy to make.
Gift toppers with pom poms
Looking to jazz up your wrapping paper? Pom Poms make everything look Pinterest-worthy. Go and make some small ones just for this purpose. They will make any Christmas giftstand out.
pom pom Wreaths
Christmas isn’t Christmas without a beautiful homemade wreath. Here are three very different style pom pom wreaths, so take your pick! I love them all.
Make a Giant Hula Hoop Pom Pom Wreath
This is a gorgeous one. I love the purples and browns on it and the simple wooden hoop with some green as a base layer.
Make a colourful wreath with baubles, bells and pom poms
What a gorgeous mix of shiny baubles and colourful woolen pom poms. This would brighten up any door at Christmas. Just tie them individually to a styro-foam or wire wreath with string. And don’t be afraid to overdo it, the more things the merrier!
Make a snowball wreath with pom poms
I love this one. Just using white or off-white wool, making lots of fluffy pom poms and securing them onto a wreath for a wintery effect. Nice. It makes you want to stroke it, so soft.
First of all, thank you for your support this year! For reading this blog, liking and following me on Facebook and Twitter and of course, for your purchases of my vintage homeware and giving me commissions. It’s been an amazing year and I am looking forward creating beautiful things again in the next.
Here’s a little something for you to get stuck into during the holidays: a fabric scrap wreath. I made lots and sold them at fairs. Everyone loved them! They are easy to make and are very decorative.
1. wire wreath frame
2. about 1/2 meter of fabric
1. Cut/rip the fabric into long strips of 2cm wide.
2. Cut the strips into small strips of about 10cm long.
3. Tie each strip around the wire frame and keep doing this until you can’t see any wire anymore. The fuller, the better!
I love graphic design and creating blogs, postcards, posters, flyers, business cards and more. I also love free printable vintage tags and labels. Make your Christmas gifts and decorations extra special this year with these ideas!
Lately I have come across some absolutely gorgeous free printable and downloadable images and textures. What better looks better as a finishing touch than a customised, vintage label to go with your hand-made gift?
Here we go! Have fun and do share links to your websites if you’ve created anything with them!
free printable vintage images and textures
A great site with lots of vintage downloadable images including postcards, stamps and envelopes as well as polaroid frames, canvas textures and old sticky tape. Yum!
free printable labels
Wonderful website with lots of ideas and inspiration for weddings – but of course these great labels can be used for your homemade Christmas gifts too. Worth a look.
beautiful printable retro wrapping paper
Not free, but super affordable, is this gorgeous wrapping paper from DesignStudio51. For less than the price of a coffee you buy yourself a ZIP file with the most beautiful printed wrapping paper to make a real impact this Christmas.
free retro fonts
I found a great selection of free downloadable Retro type fonts on this website, ready to be used on all your labels, cards and other creations.