Holiday Craft: Make a Leftover Rice Ornament

Who knew leftover rice could make such an adorable holiday craft? This crafty elf, that’s who! So let’s make one, or two, or three…

Holiday Craft: Leftover Rice Ornament

Every time I order Chinese food, there’s always a small box of white rice tucked inside the delivery bag. I haven’t eaten white rice in about 20 years and throwing away good food makes me nuts – so I had to really think about this one.

So one night as I was just about to give in and pitch that week-old container of rice – it hit me! I use dried rice for craft projects every once in a while, why not use my left over Chinese food for something creative? An awesome holiday craft, perhaps? Oh yes!

Related: 5 Ways to Cook with Leftover Rice, Make a Christmas Star Ornament

From trash to holiday treasure…we’re making pink Christmas trees out of leftover Chinese food! Santa will be so impressed. (I know this crafty elf is!)

Holiday Craft: Leftover Rice Ornament


  • Leftover white rice
  • Cardboard (old shipping boxes work best)
  • Glue
  • Craft paint
  • Paper clip
  • String
  • Red Hots or other small candies (optional)

Craft Stuff

  • Plastic fork and knife
  • 2 bowls
  • Hot glue gun
  • Cookie sheet pan
  • Wax paper
  • Cookie cutter
  • Scissors

Holiday Craft: Leftover Rice Ornament

Prepare the rice

  1. Spread your rice out in a thin layer onto a cookie sheet pan.
  2. Place in 200 degree oven for 10-15 minutes to dehydrate the rice.
  3. If you don’t want to use electricity for this project, let the rice air dry for 1-2 days. It doesn’t take long.
  4. When the rice comes out of the oven, break apart any clumps with your fingers.

Note: You should only use plain, white steamed rice. Toss out any portions that might have sauce or food bits on it.

Holiday Craft: Leftover Rice Ornament

Make your background

  1. Using a tree cookie cutter, trace out the shape onto the cardboard.
  2. Cut out the shape with scissors.

Note: You can use any kind of cookie cutter you want. But trees are awesome.

Holiday Craft: Leftover Rice Ornament

Let’s paint!

  1. Place rice into a bowl.
  2. Add a few squirts of pink paint. Or green, if you’re feeling boring…I mean, traditional.
  3. Mix with a plastic fork until all the grains are coated.
  4. Spread the rice out onto wax paper so the paint can dry. This should take about ten minutes.

Holiday Craft: Leftover Rice Ornament

Time to get messy!

  1. Dump 1/4 cup of pink rice into a clean bowl.
  2. Add glue. I’d say about 2-3 tablespoons.
  3. Mix until everything is clumpy and gloppy.
  4. Place your cardboard tree onto wax paper.
  5. Add your gluey-pink rice to the cardboard cutout. (This is going to be messy.)
  6. Shape the rice into a tree. A plastic knife helps push the rice into place.
  7. Let the ornament dry for 3-4 hours. Overnight is best.
  8. You can glue on Red Hots or other small candies as ornaments. But this tree is toots-cutes even without them.
  9. Use a hot glue gun to add a paper clip to the back of the ornament.
  10. Thread some string through the paper clip and hang on your tree!

And there you have it. Leftover Chinese food – UPCYCLED!

Holiday Craft: Make a Leftover Rice Ornament

Written by Crunchy Scott

I'm a self-proclaimed eco-geek. I'm also a flexitarian foodie, a crunchy crafter and an eco-journalist. And if it's awesomely 80s, I'm into it. Oh, and I wrote a kids book too! Find me on and . Wow, I'm everywhere! So come find me.


Leave a Reply

2 Pings & Trackbacks

  1. Pingback:

  2. Pingback:

Comments (Keep It Civil...)

Is Balsa Wood Eco-Friendly?

Is Balsa Wood Eco-Friendly?

Book Page Projects

Spotted: Book Page Star from House Revivals (and 11 other Book Page Projects)