Christmas can be fun and festive without using precious resources or adding to the waste stream. Here’s how!
1. Christmas Tree To Decorate
Make this project simpler by using a stash panel of plywood, instead of buying new. Kids will LOVE adding a new ornament every day!
2. Embroidery Hoop
Here’s an Advent calendar that you can completely disassemble between holidays. Just don’t plan any new embroidery projects for December!
3. Pallet Tree
The wood for this Christmas tree Advent calendar is upcycled pallet wood. With paper origami decorations, it’s quite eco-friendly!
4. Paper Chain
The paper chain is the Advent calendar that I used most often when my own kiddos were small, and they loved it. They helped me make it, building numeracy and fine motor skills, and when kids are little, simply tearing off the next link and helping read the number of days left until Christmas is all the fun they want–no extra presents or candy necessary!
5. Picture Frame And Paper Envelope
Switch out the art from one of your large-format picture frames to make this Advent calendar. Make the paper envelopes from scrap scrapbooking paper or colorful magazine pages.
6. Upcycled Shoe Organizer
It’s like shoe organizers were made to be upcycled into Advent calendars!
Clear out the scrap fabric bin making an Advent’s worth of small stockings for this calendar.
8. Wood And Burlap Tree
If you want an heirloom-quality Advent calendar, this is the one to put your time and effort into. To make it even more eco-friendly, upcycle pallet boards instead of buying new wood.
9. Wood Clock
Paint a large wood slice to look like a clock face, and add a clock hand that you can manually adjust each day.
Make your Advent calendar do double duty by embellishing a wreath.
11. Advent Calendar From Recycled Containers
Nobody is going to notice that you’ve upcycled the compartments of this Advent calendar from old containers–not when there’s a treat inside each compartment!
Crafts For Kids
12. Baby Food Jar Snow Globes
Kids love small world play, and they’ll be enchanted with helping you make these small snow globes.
13. Button Wreath
Give kids a ton of buttons and some glue and let them make their own wreath decorations while practicing their fine motor skills.
14. Cinnamon Dough Ornaments
This is my absolute favorite kid-friendly Christmas craft. This cinnamon applesauce dough is safe enough for a baby to handle, it acts just like play dough, it smells absolutely delicious, and you can either keep it forever or compost it after the holiday. I even loved it the year that one kid made nothing but “Christmas poops” with it!
15. Kid-Painted Holiday Shirt
Don’t like the idea of buying a special holiday shirt just for your kid to wear for only a couple of weeks? Hand them an old shirt and some fabric paints, instead!
16. Macaroni Snowflake Ornaments
Kids will have a fabulous time making their own snowflake ornaments out of dried macaroni.
17. Tree Branch Paintbrush
If you cut your own Christmas tree, trim off a bit of a branch and let your kiddo try her hand at painting with a real tree branch paintbrush.
18. Twig And Raffia Stars
You make the star out of twigs, then give the kids some raffia to wrap as they wish. I promise it’ll look charming in the end!
19. Wine Cork Reindeer
After your next Christmas party, you might have enough wine corks to help kids make a whole herd of reindeer!
20. Wood Slice Rudolph
Sing the song or watch the movie, then show kids how to make their own Rudolph ornaments using wood slices.
21. Copper And Evergreen Hanging
Copper plumbing elements make a lovely contrast to evergreen and berries.
22. Felt Leaves And Berries
If you can’t decorate with real greenery, then felt greenery is the next best thing.
23. Glittered Wine Bottle Greeting
Spell out a holiday message with upcycled wine bottles. If you don’t have wine bottles, you can also use soda bottles or Mason jars.
24. Magazine Trees
Pro tip: this project also works with catalogs!
25. Miniature Wreath
Who says that every wreath has to be huge? This miniature wreath is tiny and perfect.
26. Mini Wreath Garland
Did you forget to trim your shrubs before winter? Go do it now, and use the trimmings to make this miniature wreath garland.
27. Origami Star Garland
You can use any square-format paper for this project. I think that upcycled sheet music or wrapping paper would be really pretty!
28. Product Packaging Snowflakes
Upcycle clear plastic packaging into snowflakes!
29. Toilet Paper Tube Christmas Lights
They use a lot less electricity than real Christmas lights do!
30. Vintage Button Sign
Spell out your favorite holiday message with vintage buttons.
31. Bottlecap Snowman
Here’s your excuse to drink.
32. Broken CD Ball
Cover an ornament in mosaic tiles made from broken CDs. It’s like having a disco ball on your Christmas tree!
33. Embroidery Hoop Christmas Ornaments
You could also stencil or freehand the art on these ornaments.
34. Fabric Scrap Pom-Pom
Your fabric scrap bin needs to be emptied out. This is the project that will make that happen!
35. K-cup Snowman Hats
Honestly, it’s WAY better for the environment if you simply don’t use K-cups, but if you’ve got a few, here’s how to upcycle them into snowman hat Christmas ornaments.
36. Mason Jar Screw Band Ornaments
Upcycle a dinged-up Mason jar screw band as the frame for your own artwork or a fussy cut Christmas card, picture, or postcard. Tie on a ribbon, and hang from your tree!
37. Miniature Mittens
Knit a pair of adorable mittens for your Christmas tree.
38. Miniature Pine Cone Stars
Save all of your smallest pine cones for this ornament!
39. Partial Puzzle Ornament
It’s okay that you lost a few pieces to that puzzle! Pick out the best part–at least the best part that still has all its pieces–and turn it into a unique Christmas ornament.
40. Patchwork Star
These stars are made from wood scraps. If you don’t have any leftovers from previous projects, upcycle wood pallets.
41. Pine Cone And Bow
This ornament is super simple to make, which means that you can make a LOT of them in not a lot of time.
42. Ribbon And Twig Christmas Tree
Tie scrap ribbon to a sturdy twig to make this sweet Christmas tree ornament.
43. Sheet Music Ornament
Remember that you can always substitute your favorite paper for the sheet music called for in this tutorial.
44. Upcycled Decoupaged Ornaments
Makeover a plain old ornament with decoupage!
45. Upcycled Light Bulb
Give the last of your decorative, old-style light bulbs a last hurrah in this project as you transition to eco-friendly lighting.
46. Wine Cork Angel
Here’s your excuse to drink wine.
47. Wood-Burned Snowflake
I am a big fan of my wood burner. It’s a great way to make a wood slice into a beautiful Christmas ornament!
48. Painted Wood Slice Ornaments
If you don’t have a wood burner, paint your wood slices, instead!
49. Wooden Block Photo Ornament
It’s quite possible to upcycle a kid’s old building blocks into this photo ornament. Before you buy new blocks, ask around to see if anyone has any old blocks to hand off to you!
50. Yarn-Wrapped Star
Use up that leftover stash yarn making these ornaments that are impossible to get wrong.
Do you have a favorite Christmas craft that also just happens to be eco-friendly? Tell me about it in the comments below!